PoGo – Adventure Sync

I figured an easy weekly post during this Blapril period is to update my hiking and PoGo Adventure Sync distance:

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Pretty good, just ~6 miles less than last week. There’s more rain the forecast this week so next’s numbers will probably be lower still. Which is good, that 80+ km was an outlier. I’m planning to do 5 to 8 mi each time so 40 mi a week or around 60 km per week will be more like it. Getting above 50 km results in extra stardust and a 10 km egg that hatches from a different pokemon pool than the normal eggs.

Current buddy is Gurdurr, Timburr’s evolution, and I’m a long way from Conkeldurr. I need 50 more candy which is 250 km of walking! If I can keep up my current weekly pace I’ll get that in a month, but I’m hoping things will return to normal sooner.

Online Boardgames

I enjoy boardgames – I’ve been playing them longer than MMOs (by 2-3 years) – and am in two gaming groups. Both meet on Mon every other week, so in normal times, every Mon I’m usually playing in group 1 (which focuses on LoTR the Living Card Game), or group 2 (strategy games of all kinds). Due to current circumstances, neither is able to meet in person…

Last week, two friends (let’s call them B and T) and I tried an experiment: conference call via Google Hangouts (not sure how this is done, B set it up and emailed the link to join) and attempting to play a boardgame online.

We examined TableTopia, TableTop Simulator (all 3 of us had those in Steam), and Board Game Arena (https://en.boardgamearena.com/).

First we tried TableTopia, which appears to launch https://tabletopia.com with Steam credentials, so you can probably just go directly there and make an account. It looks great, but the problem we hit was most games required somebody to be a Premium subscriber in order to play 3 or more people. From random sampling, games allowed a 2 player free version, presumably so you can try things out, but player counts 3 and higher were locked behind a premium subscription.

I understand this model, but it makes for an expensive trial. TableTopia has 3 tiers: bronze (free), silver ($5/mo; can play premium games), gold ($10/mo; can play premium games AND also invite non-premium players).

So we went to TableTop Simulator. I believe, but haven’t had a chance to investigate, TTS has zillions of plug-ins to implement games. The model is: buy TTS, use a plug-in to play a game. The catch is the plug-ins that were in the Steam catalog for TTS cost extra.

Not to say we are trying to dodge paying, but that kind of model quickly adds up. Plus, B and myself and huge board game collectors – I have over 100 board games, and B has way more than me. For example, I own Wingspan and its expansion, in to play it on TTS costs another $8. Which I get is probably (hopefully) some money that is funneled back to the creator. Am I willing to double dip, virtual and physical?

The answer is Yes for Wingspan. It’s a fantastic game and I have other friends who aren’t local that want to play it.

So we put a bookmark into TTS. My homework in the upcoming days is to figure out if my favorite boardgames are in TTS. Currently that list is Wingspan, Spirit Island, Root, and if there’s a good implementation of Tzolk’in, Great Western Trail, Galaxy Trucker and some co-ops like Pandemic, Ghost Story, or …. hehe too many to list and that’s plenty. I’m also in the middle of some campaign style games: Gloomhaven, Betrayal Legacy, and Clank Legacy, so if those are there, I’m in. Gloomhaven is great but there is a lot of fiddly record keeping so I’m using 2 helper apps (!!) in my campaign: Gloomhaven Helper and Gloomhaven Scenario Tree.

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Anyway, we then tried Board Game Arena. It turns out to have a very generous “free” player limit – we had no problems finding 3+ player game we could play, and a very reasonable subscription fee – $24/yr, or $4/mo. That’s basically round off in my gaming budget, and much better than TT. In fact, after we played our session, T went ahead and subscribed.

In our first online session, B, T, and myself played Dice Forge, Race for the Galaxy, and 2 games of Red 7. It was fun, great to hear/see my friends, chat a bit, and game like we used to before the need to social distance.

This was all a test for a bigger session, with all 5 regular Mon evening player: B, T, myself, plus C and R. Buoyed by the success of the 3 person session we emailed instructions to C and R to make a BGA account and sent a link to a hangouts chat.

It went great! This time we played Race for the Galaxy, Saboteur, and 3 games of Incan Gold (re-published as Diamant). T subscribed in between our 3 player session and the 5 player session, but I’m not sure if that mattered. It was a success and we will game in this fashion until it is safe to meet in person.

T and I are also looking into playing One Deck Dungeon via Steam as well. That’s another game I own a physical copy of – the base game plus its expansion. It’s a simple, straight forward game and I tested the Steam version which helps me see if I got the rules correct.

If this goes on longer I may also look into multi-player games on the PS4 and Switch as well. T is an avid PS4 player so perhaps we can find some games to player together. Over on the Switch side my friend M would probably be up for something too.

Interesting times indeed!

LoTRO – Misty Mountains and the Arch Nemesis

So there I was, questing along on my Lore Master, following the epic storyline Vol 1 Book 5 Chapter 2 – Troublesome Goblins. I was in the Misty Mountains, looking for a goblin camp – which I found! – and then looking for Gurzmat, their leader.

While dealing with wargs at the Caldwell Pool, I spied a rather tall angular giant moving back and forth. It was Sútmoth, a Rare Arch-Nemesis. Basically, the hardest of all randomly appearing landscape mobs. Raid bosses are tougher but they don’t come outside. 😉

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I briefly considered my chances… me: a level 41 LM with just over 2000 morale, him: level 100 rare arch-nemesis with 1.4 million morale. Hm…

So, I took a few selfies and got the heck out of there… I went to pick a fight with Gurzmat, who was within my abilities. 😉

ESO – Leaving Betnikh

A few things have changed for me in ESO. For one, I’m now a subscriber! As I mentioned in my last ESO post, that craft bag is a huge lure. And I’m not even that much of a crafter, even though I think that ESO’s implementation is very good (one character can learn all the crafting disciplines; mechanics include more than just collect/craft/trash, etc.)

I figured, why not sub for a while in a game I’m enjoying occasionally; after all, I was willing to do that for WoW. Not throwing WoW under the bus – I had fun playing, there is nothing wrong with it, it’s just me… mostly I need a game with a heavier emphasis on solo and QoL issues, with some optional grouping too.

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Anyway, I started a Breton Templar, and am working my way along. So far I’ve finished up Stros M’kai and Betnikh, getting all the achievements for those admittedly small zones. I’m now in Glenumbra where I plan to move along the original main quest, the zone quest, and other random stuff I bump into. I’ll switch between my Nightblade, Templar, and Warden for variety when I need it.

I’m not all that far along in ESO, but the content just feels massive. I’ve got 3 chars, one in each alliance, and it doesn’t feel like the quest lines converge like they do in other games. Each zone has a fairly large number of quests and it’s own zone quest so I’ll have plenty to do.

So far I haven’t spent any of the crowns I get as an ESO Plus member. One thing I could buy are DLC’s, so I own them in case I unsub down the road. Another thing I could do is accumulate for a while in order to buy a house.

Decisions, decisions… 😉

Slay the Spire

The game I’ve been playing the most lately is… Slay the Spire. As you might have guessed from the post title.

It’s a fantastic deck building roguelike/roguelite, and a game I had for a while but didn’t play much. But I remember enjoying it enough to double dip for the Switch which is what hooked me back in big time. Having it portable over the Christmas holidays was a killer feature.

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Those 109 hours on Steam are separate from whatever I’ve played on the Switch, and of course not all from the month of March.

I enjoy this game because there isn’t any downtime, every second you are making decisions about hand management, what to play, what rewards to choose, what potions to use, how to spend gold, what to do in the random encounters, which path to take, etc. Choices are about risking more damage now to finish the encounter earlier versus defending more, selecting (or removing) cards to hopefully make your deck stronger, selecting a relic for their buff, and so on.

I love open world games and all, but sometimes there is a lot of time filler just traveling to the next spot to get something done. In StS, travel is quick – you pick the next location to go to and the encounter starts.

Yes there is luck, but like poker and scrabble, a skilled player can consistently steer things their way.

It takes a bit to understand what’s going on, especially with effects like poison, weakness, vulnerability – and how those effects work – as well as card modifiers like “ethereal”, “intangible”, etc. That’s where the Slay the Spire wiki comes in handy.

On the Steam version, I’m currently Ascension 4 on Ironclad, Ascension 3 on Silent and Watcher,  Ascension 2 on Defect, and have beaten the corrupted heart on Defect and Silent. I’m a bit behind on Switch… I need to check to be accurate, but every one there is around Ascension 1.

But yeah, I’m getting my money’s worth out of both copies I bought. 🙂

 

PoGo – Adventure Sync

In these times of staying at home, social distancing, etc. I’m trying to get out there every day and hike. It’s free, I want to exercise, I gotta get out of my house for a bit, etc.

I may have gone bananas last week, logging ~50 miles over 6 days. The trail running group I’m in was running a contest/challenge, to run or hike 10 miles a day for 3 days in a row. I did that, and decided I could continue but not quite double it.

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What can I say, I need to earn candy so I can evolve my current buddy, Timburr, on up to Conkeldurr, and 26 candy is a big chunk of the overall 125 I need. Timburr is a 5 km/candy Pokémon so he’ll be my buddy for a while yet… unless I throw in some rainbow candy.

Adventure Sync is by far my favorite feature they’ve added. It looks like more changes are coming – remote raiding, so people can play during this pandemic.

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My area has a lot of great hiking/running trails within a 30 min drive. I’m taking advantage as much as I can to help keep my spirits up.

ESO – In the Background

The other MMO I play these days is ESO. I’ve devoted far less time into it that LoTRO or even WoW which I want to change.

First, ESO has a lot of the quality of life enhancements I missed from WoW Classic. Free mount, actual fast travel, not needing to grind to money just to get the basics in the game like skills or minor (vendor) gear upgrades…

Funny thing about that – I was dirt poor in ESO for months until I was able to grab one of those 100,000 gold daily rewards. I mentioned it during Blaugfest when I grabbed my first 100K gold… and the fantastic news is that it happened again recently! Yes, that’s right, I (and presumably other players that also logged in enough during the time) collected another 100K gold and I no longer have to worry about paying for the basics anymore. I can buy gear upgrades from vendors, I can deconstruct everything for research without having to pinch pennies and sell it all, I can train my horse every day. Heck, I can train a horse on two characters!

Which is what I’m doing. My Woodelf Stamina Nightblade has almost maxed out her horse, while my new Argonian Magicka Warden is at the beginning of many weeks of horse training.

What drew me back, besides ennui in WoW, was the free ESO trial in late Jan. There are nice benefits but the main one is the infinite crafting bag. So, I did the trial just to clear out my characters and bank of crafting stuff and put it into the bag.

And it’s pretty nice… what I didn’t realize is the crafting bag is shared across all characters. That’s a huge advantage ESO has over WoW, where there is no shared storage and moving stuff between characters involves a miserable one hour delay on in-game mail. Without the sub and crafting bag, ESO at least has shared bank space and instant transfers.

I liked it so much, I re-installed ESO on my PC and did the trial there as well. I’m mostly playing ESO on my PS4 but I figured might as well plan for every contingency. 😉

My Nightblade is level 20 and done with the Summerset storyline quest, but before leaving the island and pursuing the original main quest, I have a few minor explorations to do (mostly find a few other wayshrines). My Warden headed straight out of the Elsweyr tutorial to Davon’s Watch (after doing Abode of Ignominy, the first delve) and found the hooded figure, starting the original main quest.

I have fun with my Nightblade but I want a character that would be a good healer, as in, has a healing skill line – yes I know everybody can wield a Restoration staff but my Nightblade is a stamina char for one, and I don’t want to split my skill points around just yet. Although there is only one conflicting skill morph between Umbral Assassin (the build I’m following for my Nightblade) and Blood Magus (the Nightblade healing build).

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So between Templar and Warden I decided to give the Warden a go, making an Argonian because they look cool. And, get healing skill bonuses. I’m following the Warden Initiate build, and note there are no conflicting skill morphs with Master Herbalist, the healing build. Perhaps I’ll branch off to that build later. In the meantime I’ll grab a restoration staff and throw in the occasional skill point into my restoration skill line and Green Balance skill line (warden-only healing skill line).

I really like the skill system in ESO. Armor and weapons are freely usable by all classes, every class has 5 builds (2 magicka builds, 1 stamina build, 1 healing build, 1 tank build), guilds and races have skill trees – it’s fantastic. Combat does seem a bit off compared to tab-target GCD MMO combat I’m used to, but I can adapt a bit.  Graphics are incredible, it is certainly state of the art in that department.

MMOs offer all the killing you want, and usually crafting as a side activity, but ESO also added in thief/stealth content in the Thieves Guild DLC, along with supporting game systems and a skill line. So they are already trying to innovate in the somewhat stale or more charitably described “well explored” MMO space.

I’m considering subscribing to ESO, for the crafting bag, crowns, and XP buffs. DLC access is nice too but I’m years behind in expansion storyline and zone questing already. 😉 I just figure after my WoW sub expires I might throw in to ESO for a few months.