Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of an Era: Final Issue of Beckett's Massive Online Gamer

A couple of weeks ago I got the notice from Jason Winter, head editor of Beckett's Massive Online Gamer (MOG) that this next issue would be the last issue. MOG, to me, was not only a great news source for MMOs, but also a staple food in the Wizard101 Marketing diet. It wasn't unusual for W101 to take out large advertising spreads in MOG. In fact, Doug Kale (a past editor of MOG) had even done a voice in Wizard101. MOG and Wizard101 shared a booth at PAX East. MOG and Wizard101 were buddies! At least it felt that way to me.

So for me, it's with great pride that I hold this last issue of Beckett's MOG in my hands. It was a great run, and I will always have my freelancing days writing for this magazine notched in my resume. It's been a huge learning experience and led to a great many things for me, including a trip down to Austin where I was able to interview the fine people of KingsIsle for an article and to tour the place.

Sadly, with the passing of MOG, it really feels like print media for this niche gaming market is on its last legs. Magazines can't keep up with the speed of instant news that sites like IGN, Kotaku, 1up, MMORPG, Massively, etc. (But nothing is cooler than a print mag in your hands that you can "feel" or shadowbox and put on your wall, you know?)

This is a great issue regardless. On the cover is a great picture featuring Star Wars The Old Republic, and inside is a huge spread on this new MMO that's making all the gamers fire up their lightsabers and rattle off a few rounds of their bounty hunter's favorite weapon. (Even Stephen Spiritcaller is doing it.)

Of note to Wizard101 players, on page 6 there's the 2011 Readers' Choice Awards. Wizard101 again took the Best Kid-Friendly/Family MMO of the year.

To be expected with MOG there's a good amount of pages devoted to WoW. (You know, because, well, it's WoW . . . you can't have a magazine about MMOs without mentioning the MMO some see as THEE ONLY MMO EVA . . .)

One of my favorite articles (besides my Wizard101 article) is the huge spread on all things MMO news from 2011. It's a fun look back and definitely a good read for the New Year. As a compliment to this article, there's also some grand predictions for the MMOs of 2012. Man, I can't wait for Guild Wars 2. :)

There's a chance Wizard101 players will also really like the code from this magazine. This magazine's code will reveal one random dragon-related prize. It could be dragon wings, a dragon mount, a dragon hoard pack, a dragon pet, and who knows what else. I picked up a pretty awesome dragon pet myself with the code. Check him out!

Thanks to Beckett's Massive Online Gamer Magazine for bringing me on and letting me write about the game I love and collect a bit of money for it as well. It's been great working with KingsIsle's Marketing on these articles. Even though it could be draining (nothing quite like pressing deadlines around the Thanksgiving holiday season to make a dad of 3 sweat), I'll miss it.

Happy Dueling!

Answering Questions about Super Hero Squad Online

After my post yesterday I got a few questions about Super Hero Squad Online, so I thought I'd take a few minutes and answer those to the best I can.

First up from a long time reader, Digby Mythweaver:
Hey Friendly a couple Super Hero Squad questions for you.

1. I play occasionally and I am on the Challenge of adding a 6th squad Member. Whats the best way to raise Silver or Gold to be able to purchase another character for my squad.

2. I noticed on the Badges, their is an Badge for collecting all your characters Tokens, twice. How does that work?

Thanks, Digby!

1- The best way to raise silver and gold is to log in everyday. Eventually you'll get to the point where you'll get 5 gold per day for logging in. Also, everyday one spot of gold will repopulate on the gift wheel. Unfortunately, that's about as good as it gets for silver and gold, so you'll be spinning that wheel a lot . . . A LOT. I usually go windowed mode and watch YouTube or something while I click "spin." You'll have to earn tickets to spin the wheel, so destroying trouble bots is probably the easiest way to earn those tickets. Note that you don't have to pick them up and throw troublebots to kill them. You just have to get near them and activate your first power emote. Easy tickets.

2- Badges simply give you goals to work for. That's about all I can see for their purpose at this point. Who knows, perhaps Gazillion will make it so badges will mean something more in the future. I'm unsure. It'd be great if earning a badge would equal squadron levels!

Next, Strong Sorcerer asks this question:
"Hey friendly, I've always loved Marvel and have a subscription for a comic every month. I'm wondering if I should play Super Hero Squad Online. if it helps I have played Wizard101, World of Warcraft, Roblox, and a game called Fusion Fall."

Awesome! Which comic are you collecting?

You list quite a wide variety of games, so that's a good starting point for comparisons to these other games.

Wizard101, WoW, and Fusion Fall vs. SHSO: At this point in SHSO there are no quests and there is no storyline. W101, WoW, and FF all have stories and quests. SHSO is more open ended. Because of this a lot of people really see no point in SHSO. Some people feel online experiences like these are more of a virtual hang out and not a game. Fortunately, shortly before I started playing the game, SHSO introduced a challenge line of "quests" so to speak. The main purpose of this challenge line seems to be raising your squad level while experiencing all that SHSO has to offer, which is this:

- emotes (there's a challenge to perform rude emotes in a pond in three zones)
- Card Game (win 10 card games against other players)
- Arcade Games (score a certain amount of points in a certain mini-game)
- making friends (challenge to add 5 people to your friends list)
- Combat missions (participate in combat mission challenges)
- Collect Tokens
- Destroy troublebots
- visit your player housing
- etc.

SHSO is not a difficult game to play. It's easy and extremely casual. I'd put SHSO less in the ranks of W101, WoW, and FF and more in the ranks of Club Penguin or Moshi Monsters except in a 3D world (More like perhaps Big Little Bang) with all kinds of heroes from the Marvel universe.

If you watch the Super Hero Squad cartoon series, read the comic book, play the Wii game, or collect the toys . . . this is a great online experience for you.

At some point, the hope is that Marvel will release a game similar to DC Universe Online. DCUO would be more like W101, WoW, and FF, and if you like DC comic characters and want to create your own superhero with your own powers, this is the game for you.

Also, if you're into superhero games, you might be interested in checking out either Champions Online or City of Heroes. I played City of Heroes many years ago when it first came out, and I have to say that the character creator in that game is fantastic and just a ton of fun.

Now . . . Roblox vs. SHSO: Roblox is all about creating your own content and visiting player created content while running around with these kind of lego style characters. It's a very different beast all together than SHSO or any of the aforementioned games. It's a builder game, similar to minecraft in a way but completely different.

I would also love to see SHSO delve into letting players construct their own superhero experiences. That would be amazing. In fact, I'd love to see ALL GAMES have a builder component. That's part of what makes a game like Little Big Planet (which on the surface appears to be nothing more than a 2D platformer with fun graphics) a STELLAR game instead of just a great game.

If W101 ever put a builder component into the game, I think it'd just push things over the top for me. If I could build my own street and populate it with my own monsters and bosses, I think I'd be totally lost to the world. LOL. It would be a ton of fun.

So, hopefully that helped clear up a few questions about SHSO. It's casual, it's free, and it's very open ended. SHSO is a game I can play for 20-30 minutes a day and log off OR I can spend a bunch of time playing through missions with my kids, having a great time.

I like playing a lot of different games because I feel it gives me a broader horizon with what I know about games . . . and especially online games. I love 'em.

If you have other questions about SHSO, ask away in the comments. If you play the game and I've misstated something, feel free to correct me. Thanks!

Happy Dueling!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friendly vs. Super Hero Squad Online's Paywall III

Ohhhh, this is a steep wall right here that I’ve come up against. By my math, I’m going to need at least four heroes (above and beyond the 11 heroes I have now) to make it past the next paywall without paying. That’s just harsh! But it makes sense. I mean, this is a company we’re talking about here that needs to make some money. You can’t just go on and on playing this game for free can you? Well, essentially, yes. I think that’s part of what I like about it. You can definitely keep playing this game for free. It just takes time with a splash of determination—or stubbornness—take your pick.

By my calculations, if I just log in, level my heroes, destroy a few troublebots, and spin the pay wheel every day, I’ll soon have two more superheroes purchased with gold and silver by sometime next week. Specifically Bucky Cap and Mr. Fantastic.

Not the most exciting superheroes in the world to me, but definitely two relatively cheap superheroes. I like cheap!

Anyway, the stretch from Paywall II to Paywall III (or raising my hero squad level from 100 to 200) was pretty fun actually. From all appearances, the most awesome challenge of the bunch happens right here!

It’s win 10 card games against another player. OH YEAH, TIME FOR SOME HAPPY DUELING!

I did it! (But only after going through a number of decks until I found my awesome pinkish purple death deck.)

The PvP card duel in Super Hero Squad Online is an interesting one. The best way I found to win this challenge (without spending too much on booster packs) was to organize a deck that is evenly balanced with blocks and heavily geared toward one type of damage. (I might be a little light on yellow blocks)

That and a little patience with the cards were my recipe for success.

I'll be honest though . . . I'm about ready to surrender to the paywall and subscribe for a month. Unfortunately my kids have lost interest in the game. They do that though, and if they see me playing with a subscription account, they'll come running back. :)

I still like this game on a personal level because, well, there's a part of me that loves these characters and comics in general. See! I even have a few old Captain America comics in my collection.

I can't wait to play my Bucky Cap character for a taste of Captain America! After looking at my issue 305 of Captain America though, I want to play as Captain Britain now! (Dang comics were a lot cheaper back then: 65 cents, wow) Of course, Captain Britain is not to be confused with Lord British . . . I wouldn't mind playing as Lord British either. I'm ready for an Ultima/SHSO cross over game, but is the world? ;)

The next post about Super Hero Squad Online you see from me very well may be as follows: Friendly Surrenders to the Super Hero Squad Online Paywall.

Hard to tell. :) It all depends on how stubborn I'm feeling.

Happy dueling!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spell of the Week -- Insane Bolt!

The Spell of the Week this week is one of those that you hardly see used because the risk just doesn't seem match the reward. On the other hand, it can sure make things happen quickly either way because of its impressive power. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the . . .


As you can see from the spell card, it's a storm spell that deals moon damage, making it a very unique beast from the get go. It's a flip of the coin--1000 to your enemy or 10000 to you. When someone plays the Insane Bolt card, it's do or die time.

The spell is typically earned by Storm Wizards when they are 55th level through completing a spell quest in Wintertusk where you have to battle it out with a particularly nasty Grendel named Skabrok, a rank 10 storm boss with 8,000+ hitpoints. The rest of the populous have access to the Insane bolt card through treasure cards in the Bazaar (these drop liberally in Zafaria) and a crafted necklace.

Good luck using this spell, you're gonna need it!

I asked the readers of the Friendly Necromancer to try and capture the Insane bolt in action. They responded in droves! Check 'em out.

Kristen Willowshield:

Fallon Ravenshade:

Haley Earthcloud:

"That hurt....alot :)"

Micahel Bearleaf:

Elijah Lightthief:

Michael Soulslinger:

Ronan Drakeblade:

Methinks Ronan and Michael were in the same battle circle O.o

Fallon Seagem:

Alric Dragoneyes:

John Mistthorn:

"Happy new year everyone! Yea i thought the spell was gonna hit the other guy, but it hit me. So i got into a conclusion: Storm guy with 85% storm damage + Insane Bolt = terrible.
Tip: If you're casting that spell, be sure to ALWAYS have a storm shield."

heh. See comments below on why using a shield doesn't work (it's moon damage).

Terri Spell:

"P.S. Die little mander o.O"


Andrew Goldriver:


"I bet this would be too much for akilles eye!"

David Spiritblossom:

Ronan Shadowhammer:

Nathan Goldenshield:

Destiny Soultamer:


"Luckily I had ten in my sideboard from Celestia mobs and such. ;) Hope your Christmas was wonderful!"

It was thanks, Ben!
Ebony Titanfist:

Steven Dragonspear:

"Steven here! I hope you like my screenshot! It took a long time to create the amulet for this then I found out there were some treasures at the bazaar lol."

LOL! Well I hope that amulet comes to some good use. Thanks!
Luke Shadowblade:

Austin Swifthorn:

Seth Hunter:

"i was wearing my pigswick gear but i was a few seconds off."

It appears your intuition was right!

Ryan Lifegarden:

"Luckily, for the first time I cast it, I didn't get hit :)"

IKR! Gratz!

Elijah Stormheart:

Tara Darkgem:

"Here's the spell of the week! ;) btw late Merry Christmas!!! To you and Bailey!!"

Merry Christmas to you too!

Thanks to everyone who sent me a screenshot! Those were some great pictures (I think my favorites are the ones where it's the caster getting blasted lol).

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays . . . Whoa Boon Tree Gives Pets!

So, I harvested my elder Boon Trees, and guess what? Not only does the Boon Tree give Snowman decorations, but it also gives snowman pets as well! That's right, the Boon Tree is one of the only plants to EVER give a pet as a reward (The Holidaisy has a chance to give an ice elf pet).

Since I planted four of these trees (yeah, I was feeling festive), I ended up with a couple of Ice Elf pets, a Frostman pet, some rank 8 (lower end) mega snacks, a lot of Christmas housing items, four candy cane 7-day mounts, and a metric ton of Happy Holidaisy plants.

In fact, overall, I'd say that the main payout of the Boon tree through regular harvests and the elder harvest is the Happy Holidaisy. Unfortunately, I've never been too fond of the Happy Holidaisy plant. :/ Perhaps one of my pets would like to eat them though (I don't know if you've noticed, but it seems that feeding your pet crown items can result in a few points of experience for them).

. . . and for me, with the harvest of the Boon Trees this morning and with relatives vacating our house, it feels like the holiday season is almost over. :/ At least I have my virtual Christmas decorations to keep the season going in a room at some random house LOL.

It's been a fun Christmas at our house. The kids got a Kinect and a 3DS this year from Santa and a few other games like Disney Universe and Skylanders. Diapermancer has been going nuts with the Skylanders portal of power lol! He loves that thing.

Santa even left a game for me! Yup, Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword was poking out of the top of my stocking this year. woohoo!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, or whathaveyou! As I briefly mentioned over on my previous post, please let me know if you got (or gave) any fun gifts for the holidays! I love hearing about the loot! :)

I'm thankful for a lot of things in the real world, mainly my awesome family and all of our blessings. I'm so thankful for the great community of Wizard101. You all make this game fun to play.

"Happy Dueling to all and to all a good night!"

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Call for Spell of the Week

This is a bit late due to the holidays (hope you all got lots of Christmas loot--Let me know what you got!).

This week, let's take screenshots of the Insane Bolt Spell! It doesn't matter if the spell is striking you or your opponent, let's just see what you got. :)

Me? Yeah, I'm unlucky.

Send a screenshot of you casting the Insane Bolt to by tomorrow night (28 December 2011), and I'll post your picture on my blog on the morning of 29 December.

Here's a mailto address link to get you started: Click Here.

Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Happy Dueling!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Woot Legendary Artisan! (hmmm, what to do about gear . . .)

Crafting is so much easier these days now that you can swap reagents through the shared bank, isn't it? Well, it is for me. I had been a little stalled on crafting my final conga drum to finish off my final Spiritcaller drum for about a week. To make matters worse, it always seemed like my "secret" spots for farming stone block reagents weren't so secret after all. Every time I logged in to farm, someone else had beat me to the punch.

I started to resort to hitting the entrance way to Malistaire's over and over until I realized . . . hey wait a second . . . I probably have gobs of reagents in Myrna's pack! I logged on Myrna, did a little transfer transfer action, and BOOM, Spiritcaller Drums crafted. (Now if we only had a shared bank space between our entire family of accounts. That would be amazing!)

Check it out, here's Thomas sporting his new badge, riding on his Chrismoose LOL.

The first thing I did with that new badge was craft myself a level 66 death robe. It's wayyyy better than what I was wearing, but we won't get into that. hehe. (I never did get my waterworks robe)

The only problem is, of course, I'm looking a little wanky now.

I haven't looked much into the other level 66 and level 68 gear, but I need to. From what I understand, many people consider the Waterworks gear slightly better than the level 66 and 68 gear, but I'd like to understand it better myself. I long for the days when Ironhawk was making his illustrated guides over on Central. He did such a great job on those (and they were completed FAST too).

What do you all think about the level 66 and 68 gear? KingsIsle once told me that the crafted level 66 gear rated just slightly higher than Waterworks gear, but I'm still not sure. I'd love to hear your input.

Happy dueling!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Super Hero Squad Online Raffle Winners!

Time is now up for the Super Hero Squad Online Raffle and has chosen our winners.

Thank you all so much for playing.

Grand Prize winner of 1,000 Silver is . . .

Jacob aka World Daring Wasp!

Runner up winners of 500 silver each are as follows:

- Pyro Ninja Pig
- Alexander Fire Blade
- Alex NightFlame

Congratulations winners! Hero up and Getdown! I'll be sending you your codes for Super Hero Squad Online silver shortly.

Happy dueling!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spell of the Week--Helephant!

Q: What do Kingsisle Employees give each other for Christmas?

A: White Helephant gifts!


Ahhh, the Helephant card. I remember the first time I saw it cast. I was a lowly necromancer running around in Marleybone when a fire wizard who was higher level than me accidentally got sucked into battle. (The sidewalks in Marleybone used to be a lot trickier than they are now.) He pulled out the Helephant card, and I was definitely wow'd.

It's a six pip Fire School spell that most Wizards obtain at 42nd level. There are treasure card versions around, but it's hard to obtain. You can also cast this when in the Draconian Polymorph (as one of my readers used).

I asked the readers of The Friendly Necromancer to supply me with a screenshot of them casting a Helephant up, and got some awesome responses. Check 'em out below!



He adds: "You must like Fire spells, that's 3/4 Spells of the Week that're Fire! Between heartburn, and back pain, this Helephant seems to be having some real trouble."

Almost true! The Mander Blast was technically a balance spell, but you're right heheh. I do like the look of the fire-y spells.




Ebony Titanfist:

Ebony adds: "I was battling The elf prince since my friend lended meh this helephant treasure! I wish ya like it!"

Thanks! I do! And thanks to your friend too. :)


Austin Swifthorn:


Alexander Fireblade:



Ben adds, "I don't even have a fire wizard yet, and I don't have a secondary school of fire, AND those treasures are pretty hard to find! But I managed to snipe a couple from the bazaar! I wanted to try some with captions, and some with just the spell itself to capture the excitement and such, y'know what I mean?"

I know what you mean! :) Thanks!

Nathan Goldenshield:

Nathan adds, "I really hope you like it and again Happy holidays :D !!!!!!!!"

Thanks, Nathan! I do and back atcha!

Alric Dragoneyes:


Savannah Blueriver:





Flash says, "I have my helephant pet on as well as the blacktusk transformation on"

OH yeah! I see that . . . nice, it's a helephant spell while wearing a helephant pet in elephant tranformation casting on a helephant. That's freaking awesome! LOL!

Ryan Lifegarden:

Ryan adds, "Here you go! Since I didn't have the original spell, I just polymorphed into a Draconian and used it. Looks like the polymorphs I trained are starting to come in handy! How's the Legendary Artisan quest going? When I realized that I needed the reagents for 4 conga drums, it wasn't very fun, as I had only gotten the required amount for 2 drums. Which meant that I had to fight over 32 more fossils and 8 more pieces of aether. All in all though, it wasn't too bad because I started out with around 109,000 gold from selling all that Zafaria gear"

Awesome! I'm very close to finishing that legendary Artisan quest, but like you . . . I'm stuck on fossil collecting. I'll have them soon enough though. :) thanks for the entry!


Fallon Ravenshade:


Talon Nightshade:


Tara Darkgem:

Tara Adds, "Heya Friendalee! I got the picture of me casting the Helephant! (I almost died in that battle cause I had to discard here and there to find the spell, as you can tell by how much health I had left in the picture haha) So here you go :p. Also I just wanted to ask you one thing, is (with dots between) and (without the dots between) the same emails? This might seem like a dumb question but i'm just double checking O:"

EEK! YOU DIED FOR THE CAUSE OF THE HELEPHANT! :) You know, good question about the e-mail. I seem to be receiving both, so I guess the periods don't matter. /shrug


Jason Thunder:


Amber Fairyheart:


John Thorn:

Hmmm, why *would* you use my storm trap? hmmm? ;p

Michael Spiritblossom:


Joe Thunderhammer:


Paige Daisypetal:


Thanks everyone for the great Helephant pictures! love them!

Happy dueling!