Leader

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book of Heroes

I've been playing a mobile MMO called Book of Heroes lately.  It is the typical MMO fare, but I really like the development company, Venan, and their customer centric focus.  The game is very much active, and I highly recommend everyone take a look at it.

If you do join, look up my guild, The Lords of War, we happily accept everyone and are very laid back.

The Good:
Guild System with guild levels, challenges and the like (I believe they had this before WoW tried their guild level system).  Guilds level up based on member participation in guild raids, and each level unlocks new challenges and buffs.

Raids:  The game has their own take on raids.  Basically, a raid is a set of phases with similar encounters that must be defeated, usually with a boss at the end that has to be defeated so many times.  Up to 100 people can participate in a raid, with all but 10 or so having to be from your guild.

Valor/Token System: This one is a bit grindy, but you get a specific kind of token in varying amounts depending on how much you contributed to a raid.  These tokens are turned in for gear, gems, or other things.

Hero Tokens: Like Valor, Hero tokens are largely earned by raids, but also by achievements.  These allow you to customize your character a bit by purchasing upgrades to specific stats (e.g. I can invest my tokens into haste to attack faster, or melee to do more damage, or spread them around a bit to be more balanced).

Activity of the GMs: There are events every weekend, and sometimes through the week.  Examples are: Double raid xp weekends (for guilds), double valor reward weekends, kill 100/250/500 creatures and get free potions and hero tokens, compete in so many pvp matches and earn pvp tokens, etc.

The Bad:
PVP:  There's a collisseum, which allows 1v1 pvp, but the core game system isn't designed very well for pvp, so there's no real point.  It comes down to who is higher level and who has better gear, which is very boring.

Achievements: Normally, I'd say achievements are good, but these all feel super grindy, and some cannot even be earned anymore.  These grant hero tokens, which eventually become useless as you can cap them out.  Also since you cannot show to others what achievements you've earned, there's really no point in having them.

Dated Graphics: Yeah, these graphics aren't winning any awards, and they show the core game's age.  The benefit is that it eats a lot less battery than other MMO's I've played on mobile.

Energy System: The big one.  It wouldn't be a mobile game without the energy system.  Nothing much to say here, but it works in helping limit the amount one player can participate in a raid.  The downside is that with the ability to buy energy potions it just means if you are willing to pay in the game, you can progress much faster.

-VG

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Imperial Destiny - Page 25

     Prallan woke with a start from a horrid nightmare.  Fleets of the insect ships had just appeared around the Jinar and had ripped the smaller ship apart in moments.  It took him a few minutes before he realized what had awakened him.  An alarm was sounding on the console next to him.  Not the alarm he had set to wake him, which should be in four hours, but a summons to the bridge.  He rose out of the empty bed quickly, pulling on his uniform.

---------

      Prallan stepped onto the bridge, where Rickler and Itran were already waiting.  Through the forward viewport, another ship sat in space facing the Hermus.  It was much larger than the exploration vessel, and looked like a double helix of metal, joined at the front by a metal cone.

     "XO" Rickler said.  "I have a mission for you."  He nodded to the front viewport.  "We've made peaceful contact with these beings.  They call themselves the Ixillin, and have claims on several nearby systems.  We need their permission to continue in this direction, and their maps and trade are invaluable."

     "Yes, sir."  Prallan said.  "What is the mission?"

      "I'm sending you over to their ship to negotiate."

      "Yes, sir.  How am I going over there?  We don't have shuttles."

      "The Ixillin have provided a shuttlecraft.  It is docked at airlock two."

      "Aye, sir."  Prallan said, heading to the door.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Party Raid - Rogue and Rogue Cards

     The Rogue is the party's solution to nasty traps and other surprises.  He also does a decent amount of burst damage, but is reliant on other party members to get him into position.  He is not as much of a glass cannon as the Wizard, but also doesn't do as much consistent damage.


     Health: 12
     Attack: 2
     Defense: 2
     Ability 1: Evasion: Can attempt to evade one attack per round.  Evading has a success chance of 5% per stealth point.  Uses all stealth points, regardless of success or failure.
     Ability 2: Sneak Attack: Gains 2 damage per player attacking the same target.  Can attempt a sneak attack that increases this damage to 4 per player with a 5% success chance per stealth point.  Uses all stealth points, regardless of success or failure.  (for the purposes of this ability, a minion or creature attacking a target counts as that minion or creature’s owner attacking the target).


     Some example cards:

      Ring of Invisibility (treasure):
      Equip: 3
      Effect: Gain 1 stealth point per turn.  At the end of your turn, if you have not dealt damage this turn, gain an additional 2 stealth points.


      Denarian Triblade:  
      Costs: 2  
      Equip: 1   Effect: deal 4 damage to an enemy.  Flip a coin, if heads the triblade is unequipped.  If tails, the triblade is destroyed.

      Throwing Dagger: 
      Cost 1 
      Equip: 1 
      Effect:  May unequip to deal 2 damage.  Generates 1 stealth point each time it is equipped.

     Disarm
     Cost: 2
     Effect:  Removes one Minor trap (up to 3 converted cost).

    Disable
    Cost: 4
    Effect: removes one Major Trap (up to 6 converted cost).

    Assassinate (Instant)
    Cost: 4
    Effect: Instantly strike one opponent.  Flip a coin.  If heads, deal 4 + your normal damage.  If tails, you deal your normal damage.

    Dodge
    Cost: 3
    Persist: 2
    Effect: Whenever you are subject to an attack, flip a coin.  If heads, the attack misses, if tails, it is resolved normally.  Can be used in conjunction with Evasion.

    Dirty Fighting (Instant)
    Cost: 2
    Effect: Can only be played when an ally attacks.  Grants the ally the ability to use the Rogue's Sneak Attack ability as if he had 5 stealth points (including the +2 to damage if another ally had attacked the enemy this turn).  Does not exhaust the Rogue's stealth points.


     Looking at these cards, and the play example, its clear that the rogue tries to stay alive in any way possible, and helps the party both through removal of traps, early looting of treasure (without lockpicking, the treasure wouldn't be available until after the encounter) and burst damage.  The rogue suffers against opponents with high defenses, and can definitely use buffs and assistance whenever possible.  If an ally doesn't attack, and the rogue is unbuffed, even with boosts to his attack, he may not get through tougher opponents.  He will really start to shine later in the game, when he has some equipment and treasure to make up for these minor downfalls.

-VG

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Imperial Destiny Page 24

     The alien's body was like something out of a horror movie.  It had four arms, each ending in a claw, as well as four spined legs.  It was definitely an insectoid being, with large compound eyes and drooping antenna.  Fortunately it was only about four feet total in length, so that diminished some of its ferocity.  That, and the fact that it had been dead for several days.

      "Initial indications are that they are actually physically weaker than us individually.  An average specimen, judging by the four we have, has approximately two-thirds the lifting capacity and one half the endurance of an average Pyranid."  Doctor Vicalso said, removing part of the creature's abdominal plate.  "They metabolise nitrogen, needing at a minimum 30% gaseous concentration to survive.  From the remnants of this one's digestive tract it looks like they are omnivores, though their stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve some metals and minerals."

     "How intelligent are they, Doctor?"  Prallan asked, looking at the creature's head.

     "Definitely intelligent enough for interstellar travel and building starships.  Individually they are what you might consider below average, relatively speaking.  However, they have a mild hive mind, which can make them very intelligent in a group, moreso than a similar group of Pyranids.  However, as their numbers thin, that shared intelligence weakens."

     "Interesting."  Prallan said.  "I want a details report on their physiology.  Anything we know can help when we have to fight them again."

      "Of course, sir."  Vicalso said, removing a pair of purple blobs from the creature.  "I haven't been able to dissect an intelligent creature since medical school, this is very fascinating."

      Prallan left the medical bay very swiftly.  He was certain the Doctor was a good physician, but he also gave him the creeps.

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Party Raid - Fighter and the Fighter Cards

    The fighter is the meat shield of the group.  He's supposed to take damage and deal out melee justice, however the first role is the most important one (note: I'm debating between calling this class fighter or warrior as both represent very similar ideals, so sorry if I've interchanged the names in previous post, we're going to call it fighter for now).

    Health: 20
    Attack: 4
    Defense: 2
    Trait 1: Pay 1, intercept one attack directed at another player (spell, ability, or regular attack) and make the target of the ability this fighter.  All effects and damage are calculated as if the fighter was the original target of the attack.  Can be used once per round as a free action.
    Trait 2:  Reduce damage taken by this fighter by 1 for every defense point sacrificed.  This can be used at will.


    With this setup, it is clear that the warrior is all about buffing his defenses and intercepting attacks.  He is the meat shield and the tank of the group, soaking up damage, and letting the priest heal him and the rogue and wizard deal damage.  It wouldn't be unusual for him to make a melee attack just to give the rogue his flanking bonus.  The fighter works best when there is one or two targets, as he only gets one trait intercept per round, but has other cards that can work similarly.


    Take the Hit
    Cost: 3
    Instant - Can be played at any time.
    Effect - Counter one attack (spell, ability or regular attack) that would strike an ally.  Resolve the attack against yourself instead.

    Parry
    Cost 2
    Effect: Counter one regular attack made against you this round.  Make a free basic attack against that enemy.

    Shield Wall
    Cost 4
    Persist 2
    Effect: At the start of your turn gain 2 block.  Your attack is reduced by 2 and your defense is increased by 2 while this card is in play.

     The Art of War
     Cost: 0
     Effect: Discard this card.  Put one Tactic into play, tapped.

     Defensive Stance
     Cost: 1
     Effect: You gain 5 block.

     Broadsword
     Equipment
     Cost: 2
     Equip: 2
     Effect: Increases your attack by 2 while this card is equipped.

     The downside to fighter is that while he has a lot of good defensive abilities, most of them prevent him from becoming a powerful offensive weapon unless he has help.  As seen in the play test, after getting buffed by both the wizard and the priest, he was able to dish out a lot of hurt and stay safe himself.  He is very reliant on team support, but once he has it he is nearly unstoppable.

    The fighter's greatest weakness is the lack of any spell resistance.  Spells will rip right through his health quickly, and while he can use block to reduce the damage, it will eat through this secondary resource very swiftly.  This means he has to be selective about the damage he takes and the abilities he intercepts.  It might hurt the wizard more to take a sword to the face, but a lightning bolt is another matter.  The fighter's player must be aware of the entire situation, and play accordingly.

-VG

Monday, June 23, 2014

Casual vs Elite Gaming

     When I started playing MMOs and other online games, I was very much an elite gamer.   I sacrificed hundreds of hours of sleep and study to pursue my goals of being great at playing the games I loved.  I beat certain games over and over again until I could conquer them in my sleep.  I saw failing at something as a challenge, not a reason to give up.  It was a very different time in gaming, and the stark contrast to modern days is interesting.

    Casual today is a buzzword.  It means playing Candy Crush instead of Halo.  It doesn't have anything to do with the time commitment (my wife has put way more hours into a casual game than I have to any of my "normal" games) but skill level.  These games are easy, reward you for doing simple things and playing constantly.  They offer easy ways out, to buy your solutions.  I don't even really see how it can be fun to just buy your way out of your problems in a game....after all you are investing time to enjoy it so why pay to skip parts?

    Then I think about MMOs that exist today.  WoW has gotten progressively easier as time has gone on.  Sure, there are still challenges, but more and more of the game is user friendly, the learning curve is less steep and a child could (and regularly do) play the game.  I've seen raiders who were very young excel at the game (like my cousin's 5 year old....scary thought).  The flip side of this is that it takes longer to get the best stuff.  In order to keep you playing, WoW now (and for some time has had) long faction grinds (nothing like the original ones, though) that are more or less mandatory for raiding.  Everythign is keyed to your gear score, but you can go in the kiddy pool (LFR raids) if you want a lot earlier.

    I don't like this trend towards easy gameplay, but large time investments.  I like deep and immersive games where you have to puzzle and figure things out over time.  The EVE online learning curve is the game I want, where things are easy to start but super difficult to master.  I like games that keep you guessing, that require you to use your brain and not just show up.  However, I firmly realize that i am now in the minority of gamers.  Too many want flashy colors with no content.  Its like a cupcake, it is the sort of thing that is nice, but if you eat only cupcakes, you get no real nutritional value and your muscles and mind waste away while your waistline grows.

-VG

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Party Raid - Wizard and the Wizard Cards

     Probably the most interesting class from a mechanical standpoint is the wizard.  The wizard card has the following stats:

    Health: 8
    Attack: 1
    Defense: 0
    Trait 1: The wizard may pay a spell's cost in spellbook pages to return the spell to his hand once cast instead of exiling or discarding it.
    Trait 2: A wizard may sacrifice four spellbook pages to draw a card.


     Now, this doesn't really mean a lot unless you look at the wizard's spells.  Most of the damaging spells, except the weakest ones, have the text that they are exiled once cast.  For example, fireball:

    Fireball
    Cost: 5
    Effect: Deals 6 damage to all enemies currently on the field.  Exile after casting.

    This means that if we had 5 spellbook pages on hand, we could return this card to our hand instead of exiling it.  This means, not only can we cast it again, but we could also discard it for mana (keeping it in the graveyard so its available after a reshuffle) or even cast it again normally, exiling it then.

    The grand scheme of this mechanic is to make wizards powerful, but only if they plan their moves correctly.  Using a fireball early might win an encounter, but you may miss that fireball later, when it was exiled and you need it again.  As the encounters wear on, and the wizard casts more and more spells, eventually he will run low on good spells unless he is taking careful account and spending spellbook pages wisely.  Most of the wizard's best cards revolve around this mechanic, like time stop.  Time Stop allows the wizard to cast extra spells, so if he had a lot of mana and a hefty investment in spellbook pages, he could cast the same spell over and over again in one turn.

     Wizards have some support items too.  Scroll, for example, is like a free copy of one of your spells.  When you equip a scroll, you select a spell in your hand.  You can discard scroll and cast that spell for its cost in spellbook pages.  This would be very useful for any spell that would be exiled, as you not only get to keep it in your hand, but you pay its cost in spellbook pages rather than mana.

     Another useful spell is Master's Arcanum.  This is a 4 cost effect with a 1 persist cost.  You gain one spellbook page per turn, and can pay 2 mana to gain 2 spellbook pages once per turn.

    Finally, there is a treasure called the Ring of Wizardry.  This treasure costs 3 to equip, but once equipped you can place a counter on this ring for every turn that passes.  Once three counters are on the ring, you can remove all counters and unequip the ring to restore one exiled spell that has been played this game to your hand.

-VG