Thursday, August 30, 2018

Pirate101 Test Realm: A Tale of Three Quests

Well . . . I had homework last night. Yup. I hope I don't give away too much, but today on KI Live they're going to use my Pirate, Friendly Thomas, to explore the Test Realm, and for what they need, it will require a level 70 pirate with a level 70 Old Scratch. My pirate, before last night, was level 69 with a level 67 Old Scratch.

But I'm a good student and finished my homework! Luckily it only took an hour or so and didn't involve a lot of math. One level 70 pirate and Old Scratch are ready to go! To those ends, I now present you with . . . a tale of three quests.

BUT FIRST, do you know how I found those three quests?  With the brand spankin' new feature called The Quest Finder.

. . . oh it's been on the frequently requested list just since the beginning of the game is all . . .

I'm telling you now . . . it's beautiful and one of the most amazing features to ever hit Pirate101.

Look to the Skies
It all started with a quest from a wooden puppet named Giovanni Cassini. Well he looked like a puppet to me at the time because I had a fresh installation of the Pirate101 Test Realm and all the game assets were still downloading.

How's it feel, Giovanni, to know you're not a priority over Wand Attack Animations?

Giovanni had the need for a skyship pilot. Giovanni needed me to wrangle up a Parabolic Reflector so he could gaze into the stars. All I needed to do was to hunt down a couple Armada ships . . . for science!

Lucky Jack Russel cleaned house easily here. Sorry clockwork dude.

. . . but wait . . . there's more!  What good is a Parabolic Reflector without a Brass Setting. Giovanni set us straight to fight "The Pretender" who just happened to have "Brass in Pocket" for us. Yes, yes they made that bad pun.

I used all my arms, legs, style, sidestep, fingers, and imagination to complete this quest.

That little adventure netted me two bubbles of experience, thank you very much! NEXT!

Strike Force
Gerardo Dandini had a serious fashion problem. He had ordered Diamond Buckles from the Guinea Pig artisans in town and, gosh darn it, Grande Masque season was almost here! Since a unicorn needs his diamond buckles and didn't want to stoop to talking to "pigs" about the matter, he sent us to do his dirty work.

When you head over to the Artisan section of town you find that all the Guinea pigs are on strike because the unicorns struck up a deal with Tortellini crab mobsters that circumvented a trade agreement on creating clockworks.

What's a pirate hero to do?  That's right . . . go crack some shells and destroy some inventory!

The power of bad breath compels you!

After a quick trip over to Capo to start a small crab civil war, Giuseppe the artisan agrees to send over Gerardo Dandini's Diamond Buckles. The good news for us is that Gerardo was overjoyed and coughed up five and a half bubbles of experience for a job well done -- despite his impatience while we fought a small war over Diamond Buckles.

Due Unto Others
Ludovico Muratori is the local librarian in Florenza and he has a bit of a problem. A nobleman by the name of Luigi Vandelo has a very important overdue, and somewhat famous book that Ludovico was going to trade with the Librarian of Sivella for an equally rare volume of books . . . uh . . . you know, librarian problems . . . they're serious business.

When you head over to Luigi's house, he's super rude and sics his guards on you.

 El Toro ain't havin' none of that nonsense

. . . and thanks to an old bug . . . you get to do that fight twice!

Again . . . El Toro ain't thinking twice about that nonsense.

Luigi has a sudden surge of rememberence after you defeat his guards and viola, you have an overdue book needing return to Ludovico in the Florenza Library.

Ludovico was so happy he coughed up the remaining experience I needed to get to Level 70 . . . WOOTAH!

. . . And that's how we do it in Test Realm Town!

Oh wait . . . that's right . . . this is Test Realm and I'm going to have to do it all over again on the Live Realm if I want to do skeleton key boss fights? Not a problem. I'm up to the challenge, and I hope they have a very very successful KI Live today. I won't see you at the show, but I will be watching it with you!

Homework completed. :)

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

An Hour with Dragoz

Last night, four of the Potato League members were actually in a group together in Paladins. Gotta give it up to Eboni, Beau, and Lemonz for joining me last night. Thank you, team!

There were some general lessons learned from the exercize of playing a different game -- there are some matchmaking "issues" with this game, there are some definite differences with its mechanics (like not being able to switch heroes mid-combat), we had an AFK thrower, etc. . . . but that's not what I'm here to talk about. I was able to play Dragoz a few times and get a better feel for the character.

Fight or Flight
My first thought was that this character seemed to be a Pharah clone, but what I found out after being easily shot out of the sky a few times was that . . . no . . . this is not a Pharah clone. It's basically putting giant wings on Reinhardt and sending him into the air -- you're going to get shot down, and just from practicing in the shooting gallery, it's easy to see that the hit-boxes on these characters are already exaggerated. The other difference with the flight is that you can't really hover high up like you can with Pharah. The gravity pulls you down with greater force so pulsing flight to regenerate fuel isn't really something you can do. You *will* run out of juice.

This seems to make his flight powers very situational . . . easier to get to high ground, easier to spring up in the air and get behind someone, easier to gain vantage on a situation -- use it sparingly, the other team will shoot you down.

(It was pretty handy for jumping up and grabbing the ball out of the air for the capture the flag matches.)

Mishaps with Missiles
Dragoz has an interesting ability called "Salvo" that allows him to load several missiles in his cannon and fire them in a cone in front of him with auto-aim precision. It's possibly his most powerful attack . . . but you have to load them . . . which takes time. I'm used to being able to spam an attack when its cool-down is done. It seems you can't do that with Dragoz's missiles. You have to stop firing completely, pause, press the missile button, then attack. It's not horrible, but it is "different." And different takes time to get used to.

Need to level him up to get those WYRM Jets and Reign of Terror abilities. Fun!

Ultimate Charging or Charging Ultimate
The ultimate ability is basically a charge forward that autokills a person upon impact. A very valuable lesson from last night was, you aren't invincible while it does the power up animation. I was looking down on a very skilled Viktor player last night and ult'ed on him . . . he just shot me down. So the pro-tip here is that you need to be hidden when you activate this ult. It takes about 2 seconds to fully charge up, which is 2 seconds where you're very vulnerable and unable to do anything else, but when you unleash it . . . somebody is going to die!

A Dash of Splash
Dragoz can spit out a big ball of Magma that does a pretty good bit of splash damage. It is slow moving, however, so it can be easily avoided if you're paying attention. Saving it for up-close encounters may be your best bet . . . but I don't think I'm fully understanding all of its power yet. I think that, while in my time at the practice range, eventually Fire Spit gained a larger AOE. And that's part of the difference with this game. It's more MOBA-like in that you level your powers. Lemonz was mentioning that it felt more like Smite than he had anticipated. I can see that since it's the same company that makes that game.

So there you have it . . . my big beautiful scaley boy is a flying pinata full of missiles.  I'll have to let you know if I can discover more out about him in the future.

Also something to explore in the future are loadouts beyond "default."

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

An Hour of Paladins

A few days ago I logged on to Steam and downloaded a new game to play called Paladins. To be honest, until I read their wiki page this morning, I thought this was an old game and could have sworn I watched someone play it years ago, which is kind of freaking me out. I don't know why I thought that?

Anyway, the gist of it is that it's Overwatch / Team Fortress 2 with a different skin and a different monetization system. Blizzard asks you for money up front and quite frequently holds "free weekends" so that players can give it a shot.  Vice Versa, Hi-Rez gives you five free heroes to play always and asks for money to unlock them all -- alternatively you can micro-transaction purchase heroes one-by-one and apparently for in-game currency as well? I did that with this guy . . .

Yup . . . that looks like something I'd love to play.

When you go to purchase, they put all the options in front of you.

Basically 200 gems is five bucks -- with 39 heroes you can see it clearly makes sense to purchase the pack unless they give you enough cash throughout gameplay to unlock all the heroes, which I'm unsure of yet. What I did see was that if you log in daily, they have a reward system available to you.

Aesthetically I can't help but feel like I'm playing Overwatch with Skylander toys in a way. You remember Skylanders don't you?  My kids had us buy tons of those and hardly played with them at all.  What I didn't know is that they have a cartoon now?

I may actually have to watch that! . . . I digress.

Anyway, I'm a total of 10 games in (with one scaley dragonborn character unlocked), so I can't give much of a fair review yet, and that's not typically what I do anyway here on the Friendly Necromancer. What I do is play games, tell you about it, and get your thoughts. Why? Why not?!  Amirite? So if you have experience beyond an hour in the game, let me know.

Here's how my hour went. I played a tank character named Ruckus to start. He's a little goblin dude that pilots a suit of armor.  

Notice that player in the back with Drogos? That's when I was like . . . mine!

I think the first few matches might have been us paired against bots because there's no way regular people are just going to run to point like that.  After a few matches with Ruckus, the game shifted to a 5v5 deathmatch.  I was still playing Ruckus, but then I came into a match where a dude auto-locked Ruckus and I had to go with a second option, which was Viktor (a straight DPS character who plays a bit like soldier 76).

(Sorry for the poor quality on the video btw . . . I'm a bit time crunched or I'd record it again)

I faced my first defeat after 10 matches or so when my group didn't have a support character playing with us and the other team did -- it makes a big difference. 

So there you have it . . . I'm going to be playing a bit of Drogos in this game since my motto with lizardfolk-esque characters in any game is basically "if it has scales, it's MY BABY!" I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, August 27, 2018

The new beetle = Monstrology

Yesterday The Art of Warlord streamed an hour of Wizard101 with me in our continuing quest to make our way from Wizard City to Polaris--one hour at a time. It all started back in 2015. At first we were on a great schedule, and then I got busy, and then Morgrim got busy . . . but the "WC2P" project has always been in the back of our minds.

On our very first episode we made a rule that, no matter what, if I drew a beetle card, I had to play that card. Now I have a new rule . . . if I draw a beetle card, I must immediately discard it and play instead a Monstrology summon card. Why? Beecause Tarlac is now professionally dabbling, professionally, in Professional Monstrology.

BOOM! 48 Monstrology xp! 

We had originally planned on playing Wizard City through Polaris on Saturday, but I made a dumb joke, and Morgrim took that as a cancellation. Whoops. Anyway, not knowing our wires were crossed, I logged in to wiz and noticed I hadn't done my Monstrology quests yet on Tarlac, so I thought I'd see what it was like to pick up Monstrology after Arc 1 and then try to keep it up while doing our Wizard City through Polaris episodes.

Here's the basic gist of what I did: After completing the introductory quest, I bought the triple animus elixir for 150 Crowns . . . I mean, if you're going to be grinding out Monstrology, there really is no other way to fly. Lost souls got me to level 2. Lady Blackhope got me to level 3. From here I switched over to Krokotopia and earned levels 4-6 from running through the Karanahn Palace and killing (er, extracting the animus from) all the Karanahn Deathfeeders and Karanahn Mortifers there. From here I switched to Dragonspyre and at first dipped my toes into the Pyromancer's Tomb for the Fleshless Sentry animus and then switched over to Sylvia Drake's Tomb for the Necrotic Haunter and Bone Warrior Animus.  Finally I dropped in to The Great Spyre to hit up the Soul Searchers there. 

It really only took maybe an hour to an hour and a half to raise my Monstrology to level 9 and fill my sideboard with undead summons. It made me wonder though, has anybody written up a really great guide for quickly leveling Monstrology? Let me know in the comments if you know of a good guide.

Yesterday was pretty fun playing with The Art of Warlord. We had a few people drop by the stream to say hello. It was great seeing everyone and even better playing on Tarlac again. I'm sure Morgrim will upload a condensed version to YouTube soon.  Make sure you follow The Art of Warlord on YouTube!

Happy Dueling

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Character Spotlight: Pryce Cinder-Earth

Happy Sunday everyone!  For the next few Sundays, I thought I'd take the opportunity to do something a bit different, and that's talk about each of my D&D characters a bit. I'm not going to lie, this was totally inspired by Destiny Soultamer's blog post from five months ago. It's a great read, you should check it out.

Today's character is one that I just played with a group of people last Thursday night. His name is . . .

Pryce Cinder-Earth

Pryce is a Hill Dwarf and comes from a long line of Cinder-Earths. Ancestrally speaking, members of his family have always been Smiths. A fine shield and hammer is a thing of beauty and so it was also natural for him to find those items in his possession. Unlike the other Cinder-Earths, however, Pryce was a man of the cloth -- only when dwarves are involved, it's cloth covered in armor with the mighty symbol of Moradin emblazoned upon it.

Image kindly borrowed from the Forgotten Realms Wiki entry on Moradin.

During his training with the Hammers of Moradin, Pryce excelled in his studies and learned the languages of orc and giant and also came upon some lore about the Tablets of Fate, an ancient artifact said to keep law and choas in balance. Though his fellow students shrugged off these tales as exaggeration made by humans, Pryce made it his life's quest to find these Tablets of Fate, or at least some evidence of them. 

Ultimately Pryce is a Cleric of Light, which may seem a bit strange for a Hill Dwarf. One wouldn't typically think of Moradin as a visage of Light . . . then again, when one feels the heat of a forge and feels the sparks from hammering hot steel, that thought dissipates quickly.

The quest for the Tablets of Fate have put the rest of his life at bay. knowing that this task was too much to take on by himself, he sought to find a group of adventurers willing to plunder ancient tombs in search of "treasure." All the while believing that Moradin would guide his fellow adventurers to not only the truth of all things, but also to the Tablets of Fate.

Image kindly borrowed from the Forgotten Realms Wiki entry on Ao.

Pryce did encounter a group of adventurers and has been questing with them for what is actually only a few weeks, but what feels like a year. Early prey consisted of Kobolds and bandits as to be expected with fledgling adventurers, but what wasn't expected was a Blue Dragon disguising herself as a quest giver that sent them into a haunted church where ogres had taken up residence.

Since then, Pryce and his companions have faced many dangers, including were-beasts, slimes, and crocodiles oh my!  Currently Pryce and his companions are delving into the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, following a lead Pryce received on said Tablets of Fate.

His fellow adventurers would probably describe Pryce as being a bit "handsy," as he tends to use the Guidance cantrip for everything. His favorite way to cast this is with a gentle pat upon the buttocks accompanied with a "pop" sound from his mouth.

As a now 7th level Light Cleric, Pryce commands a powerful array of spells and abilities, Always at his side, however, are his "Spells of the Forge" that fuel his power: Burning Hands, Flaming Sphere, Scorching Ray, Fireball, and Wall of Fire.

Along his journey he's also acquired a couple of interesting magical items: a Rust Bag of Tricks and a Broom of Flying. Though he may be granted one of eight various creatures (up to 3 times a day) to assist him from his Rust Bag of Tricks, he's always secretly hoping to pull out a Giant Boar he's named "Betsy." As for the Broom of Flying, unfortunately an encounter with an acidic ooze has temporarily damaged his prized possession -- he's patiently waiting for its repair, but he will fly again!

Mark my words, fine readers, the Tablets of Fate will be Pryce's someday, and he and Besty and his flying broom will live happily ever after.

"Have ya' happened to have heard of the . . . uh . . . Tablets of Fate?"

One thing is for sure, if you happen to be in a party of adventurers where Pryce is at the table, there's going to be some Voodoo happening . . .

I think these chips are the real reason I keep getting invited back to play.

Happy Dueling!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Barovia: What the BHE is that?

I continue to play in Barovia . . . although I don't know why . . . I'm getting my butt handed to me most days and really have no business being here, but I'm succeeding "just enough" to make me want to stick it out.

Barovia is a setting that's been around for a long time hailing back to the days of Ravenloft, a 1983 Dungeons and Dragons module that borrows lore heavily from Dracula. It's a mountain valley that's a densely wooded area with cold winters . . . and lots of undead, cultists, vampires, werewolves, and gypsy folk. Sounds like a great place for a Friendly Necromancer to hang out, doesn't it?

There's one thing I know for sure about Barovia . . . I can kill a deer there!  

. . . not only "a" deer, but two deer at once! 

Yup, there's a quest to kill deer for their meat and then place the meat in front of wolf caves to lure out the alpha wolf and kill it. Check. Can do! Did that this morning in fact! What I can't really do at the moment is kill a giant werewolf boss. It's a gear check fight, and my gear and stats just aren't up to snuff yet.

That's ok. There's still plenty to do here with repeatable daily quests, which most I can do, but those witches and their Ray of sickness spell though. Wow! Can't do that one just yet!

They own me every time . . .

Ultimately Neverwinter is an MMO and the coolest things in the game are definitely multiplayer focused. My favorite of the multiplayer experiences are the "low barrier to entry" heroic events. Most can be done with one to three random people that also happen to be nearby.

There's heroic events with everything from saving a couple of merchants from disaster to defeating a large mass of undead or wolves. . .  and then there is Yester Hill. 

Looks pretty ominous doesn't it? 

I kept seeing people yelling for more assistance for a "BHE." I'm like ... What the heck is a BHE? Bad Halitosis Encounter? No? I'm checking my quest log. *Shrug* then someone (like me) asked in the world chat what that stood for. I'm so glad there are other confused people out there in the world. BHE stands for "Big Heroic Event." Duh. In Barovia the BHE is called Yester Hill.

Now it all made sense. There's a weekly quest to complete three smaller 2-3 person heroic events and the Yester Hill event. I finished mine up just yesterday by joining a group of 12 or so likeminded adventurers in downing the evil Thornspur.

Gettin twiggy wit it

The gist of the encounter is that you need to defeat 50 twig blights who are trying to give Thornspur damage resistance and also defeat a "draggle of druids" (you like that? I just came up with it) who are giving Thornspur additional health. Pro tip: just follow the crowd and kill everything.

Kill all the things!

Eventually Thornspur himself rises up and you burn him down ... End of the Yester Hill BHE.

Low barrier-to-entry events like this I have no problem with completing. It reminds me a lot of the fun world events in Guild Wars 2. Those were always a good time and pretty easy to beat as long as enough random people were gathered in the same area.

My next goal in Neverwinter is to actually go on some 3 person hunts in Barovia. That takes the scariest thing of all . . . interaction with other gamers. *gulp*

Till then ... Happy Dueling!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Look at the Puppers!

While we were in the Beta phase of Animal Cove, I managed to score Stripes the Zebra, which I believe is everyone's first pet. Yesterday, I was able to unlock this little cutie named "Scruffy!"

 I miss that about dogs

In real life our family owns a cat and a bird (no they are not named Sylvester and Tweety . . . they're named Zoodles and Sweety.) Unfortunately our real life dog was killed by the neighbor's dog several months ago. But that's another story for another time . . .

The only thing cuter than Scruffy

Well if you can't have a real dog, virtual dog it is! (IMHO It's a much better option than dropping $3000 on a robot dog.) To unlock Scruffy you had to complete a gauntlet of six levels. Fail one, and you go back to a checkpoint and try again.

Running the baby puppy gauntlet is CUTECORE!

Finish all six levels and you'll have unlocked a new baby animal!

What would happen if you never tapped to continue? What kind of monster would do that?

After this you're rewarded with a fun, new friend who wanders the island and interacts with its denizens.

I feel you, Winston. I feel you.

Pets are now slowly rolled out each week. Most likely all the players who earned Stripes are going to be seeing Scruffy next week. It's great to have something new to do in Animal Cove, week after week, even if you've finished all 300 levels.

I hope everyone is really enjoying playing Animal Cove. The team has worked hard and is still working hard on new stuff to add to the game! Thanks for playing. :)

Happy Dueling!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

High (Ho) Silver, Away!

Overwatch's 11th Season of Competitive Matches has five more days until it's over. I don't know what that means for you, but what that means for me is that I need to finally get these placement matches out of the way, so I can get a spray that I never use and earn a few more points toward this golden weapon thing that I will never obtain!

You see, the Austin Potatoes just don't do a lot of comp matches. We generally like the more laid back atmosphere of quick play and tend not to extend ourselves outside of that. That's what potatoes do. That said, we'll always give placement matches a go at, like, you know, the last minute.

To be honest, Vanessa MythDust and I were rocking those matches over the past couple of days. 

Curse you random disconnect!

(That one loss pictured above was actually a disconnect that counted against me.) And sure . . . we ended up losing those last two placement matches, but I'd say it was pretty great overall for us. 

Back in January, I did my first ever placement matches and ended up mid-gold with an SR of 2372 -- this was back in my days of playing Pharah all the time. After that I had switched to a Reinhardt main and did another round of placement matches that didn't end so well and my SR plummeted to low silver. Since that time we've been working our way back up -- just through placement matches mind you, because that's how potatoes do -- and this time I ended up with high silver.

 So close to gold!

After placements, I stuck it out for another tragic loss and both Vanessa and I were both done with placements for Season 11. Here's how we're looking for that, team.

Don't worry my friends, I am your shield. 

Pretty 50/50 between Rein and Doom with some Pharah and Junkrat sprinkled in for good measure.  I had an excellent round as Pharah, scored 33 elims, and was able to play my rocket air guitar emote a few times, which is the most important unrepresented stat in that picture above.

The end result was that Vanessa and I felt better about Comp Matches! They typically are a cess pool of taunts, disparaging comments, and utter discouragement, but we didn't get that this time through.  I'm sure if we played Comp enough, we'd find that behavior again, but one week before the season is over, it sure felt full of more people just like us -- generally chill peeps who just want to have a good match . . . and win! (And not just throwing a match on purpose to get into bronze; I realize that happens.) I may end up doing more comp matches in the future if it stays this chill.  I'd much rather be earning points toward a golden fist or hammer than not.

And while you're here reading about Overwatch, you might as well also see the latest Animated Short if you aren't one of the 3.6 million people that haven't caught it yet.

What do you think, is this a set up to learn more about the guy with the hover bike? I sense future hero!

And also check out this Reinhardt Karoke from the Overwatch play test server. I will absolutely be doing this when it comes to the live game.

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Gaming with the . . . kids these days!

As some of you might know, I have three kids. On this blog I've referred to them by three names:

- Amber DeathSong (now 17 years old)
- Kyle SkyStaff (now 14 years old)
- Diapermancer (now 9 years old)

We might as well keep those names going, and it's been a while since I've talked about this amazing trio, so I snapped a few pictures yesterday as they were playing games and thought I'd talk for a bit about what they've been playing lately.

Amber DeathSong
It's all about the SPLATOON! Lately she's been playing Splatoon 2 (Octo Expansion) on the Switch.

There isn't a day that goes by lately where she doesn't comment to me about how much she loves playing Splatoon and listening to the Splatoon soundtrack. I'm all about that awesomeness.

Outside of Splatoon, she's also knee deep in a D&D campaign, a Starfinder campaign, and I don't even know how many GURPS games she's embroiled in currently, but I hear tales of her roleplaying a character named "Gef Dalby," a paranoid mongoose who's "really good at computers." Her gaming group is made up of artists like her, so they draw each other's characters, like this!

Kyle SkyStaff
Kyle has been playing a metric ton of Katamari Forever lately. I'm not sure why, but it's back in a big way. I was digging for a trailer for the game and found one, but you have to see this other (but related) trailer's intro for "Touch My Katamari" for the PS Vita.

Amazing. No other words can describe that.

This ball of goop has been rolling around on our TV for days!

So . . . Diapermancer really only has one game of choice, and that's Roblox. This kid is a die hard Roblox player -- he's played it for . . . as long as I can remember . . . and I understand why. The variety of experiences and games you can find on Roblox is pretty intense, plus it's online, and as we all know here on The Friendly Necromancer, multiplayer online experiences is where it's at! He's a kid after his own father's heart.

Can you believe he's grown so much? And to think this kid's birth was announced on the Wizard101 launcher back on the day.  Wild.

He's invited me to play Roblox with him a few times, and I always have fun playing with him. Cops and Robbers is good one we've played together. 


Anyway, these three have always had interesting game choices (outside of Roblox). Honestly though, I'm just waiting for the time that Paper Mario 1000-Year Door comes back into all of our lives. :) You know it will! It always does!

Happy Dueling

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Let's talk Overwatch?

Listen, y'all.  It's The Art of Warlord's fault . . . straight up . . . that I play Overwatch. Make no mistake. I would have NEVER given this game a shot if it wasn't for Morgrim hounding me to play this game so much.

There was a Twitter spat and everything.

Then I finally caved and started playing on a free weekend last November, dubbing the game "Junkrat" instead of "Overwatch" because that's the only character I played for the first couple of weeks. Watching my first ever highlights reel video is hilarious now. It consists of me spamming at the enemy group, using riptires out in the open, and I think the final clip is even from a medium bot match.

Since then I've clocked 370 hours of game play and fallen in and out of love with various heroes, but what I've mostly found is that no one really wants to play the tank . . . so that seems to be where I fit best with Reinhardt.

That's 93 hours playing Rein -- not quite the 100 hour mark, but I'm getting there. When I still had my beard growing, I kinda even looked like a Reinhardt main.

Don't worry my friends, I am your shield.

I also switched my main DPS to Doomfist from Pharah because I play a lot with "Elik" from work who mains Pharah. I need to make a more up to date Doomfist highlight reel, but here I am in all my "punchy guy" glory:

I'm curious to find out how many of my followers play Overwatch. It's totally different from the usual game I write about here on TFN because traditionally I'm a super passive PvE playin' type of a guy. I mean, you "could" technically play Overwatch as a single player game, but that would be pretty boring ultimately. If only they made some kind of practice bot match somewhere in between Medium and Hard? (I mean, look at a game like Dota II and they've got their bot difficulty tuned pretty perfectly. I'd play bots on Dota II all day and still feel like I had a good challenge. It's probably intentional . . . I doubt they want you playing bots all day.)

As it is currently, I mostly queue for quickplay matches and mystery heroes either by myself or with the self-dubbed "Austin Potatoes" group. We're the potatoes because . . . that potato aim though!

Outside of this, I've recently had the pleasure of playing a bit of Overwatch with Miss Courtney Olivia. She plays an amazing Junkrat btw . . . So if you tune into her Twitch channel you may even catch me there from time to time? Maybe?

I've been kind of wanting to try another Team Fortress 2 / Overwatch knock off game called Paladins. If you have some experience with that game, please give me your thoughts in the comments.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Weekend at Pedro's

Saturday morning I was out early mowing my front lawn when all of a sudden I saw a grey "thing" moving right in front of the mower. I'm glad I caught a glimpse of it because I was able to stop my mower in time to not run over a little, grey bird dude.

At first I just tried to shoo it away, but soon discovered this little guy couldn't fly, despite his efforts to get away from me. In fact, one of his wings looked in pretty bad shape.

I ran inside and asked Uber Wife to grab a box and come see this bird. At first she brought out a shoe box, and I'm like . . . ok, this will do for now.  We scooped him up into the shoe box and then transferred him over to a bigger box.

We own a parakeet, so I put some seed and water in the box and I snapped this picture and sent it out to my follower buds.

As you can see, the responses I got were fantastic, and I really didn't know what to do with this guy.  He was pretty chill though and I was kind of taking to him at this point, so I sent out a second picture and dubbed him "Pedro."

My followers were on point, as to be expected . . . Pedro was quickly identified as a birb . . . most likely a dove birb . . . and most likely a fledgeling mourning dove birb.

I put Pedro in a safe, warm place underneath the trampoline at our house at this point because Jeff Toney was headed over to play another session of Althea and company's ongoing D&D Game. You might have read a bit about our adventures on my sub-blog about it (which is now sadly out of date). It was a great session on Saturday where our characters finished up a quest chain in the Feywild and took a portal back to the Neverwinter Woods. It involved hunting a pre-cooked pig and partaking in some "intrigue" at a party in honor of Princess Buttercup of the Summer Court . . . but that's a story for another time . . .

We leveled up to 6!

After the game I did some quick research on the Internet and found out that you could feed Fledgeling Mourning Dove's the same stuff you use to hand-feed more domesticated birds, so I ran down to the local Petco and picked up a packet of this stuff for $10 and tweeted it out because Pedro had become the weekend project. I was now fully embroiled in the story plot for A Weekend at Pedro's

Feeding Pedro wasn't easy. I took that yellow mush and sucked it up into a syringe and then would drizzle it down to his beak. At first he wasn't interested at all, and then suddenly I saw a little light go off in his birdy head, "Wait a second . . .  you want to help me?" I'd squirt a drop of food on his beak and then he'd nibble it a bit. After he got a taste of it, he started really working that beak, sliding it back and forth along the edge of the syringe like he was trying to figure out how to really feed from this thing.  So I kept that up, drizzling a bit on his beak and letting him nibble a bit, drizzling a bit on his beak, nibble, etc.  It was a messy operation, but got the job done.

After his first feeding he let loose with a really cute and soft satisfied chirp. OMG PEDRO IS ADORABLE!  You gotta play this two-second clip I tweeted out

By this time it was night time, so I tucked his box away in my stuffy, yet perfectly safe, garage. And muddled over what to do with Pedro. 

When I woke up on Sunday, he was still doing good, so I fed him his mush again, and Uber Wife (being "uber" as she is) committed to taking Pedro down to the Austin Wild Life Rescue, per Leala's excellent suggestion on my Twitter Feed. Uber Wife sent me pictures of the whole drop-off and even staged a great pic for me of his box near the drop-off sign.

No, we didn't actually just drop him off at the foot of the sign . . . Uber Wife took him inside the building, filled out a form, left the baby formula as a donation, and Pedro was finally being cared for by some professionals. As cute as Pedro was, it ultimately was better that he was left with the center. They were going to x-ray his wing, see what could be done, and do a better job at feeding him.

I just want to give a big thanks to my Twitter followers for their excellent suggestions and for joining us for a Weekend at Pedro's. I'm glad I can count on my Internet buddies to help with my wildlife mishaps.Thanks for the hand!

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Revisiting Neverwinter 2018

Several weeks ago, I saw one of my new friends from Overwatch (Oh Hai Eboni! Everyone visit her Twitch channel, she's awesome) playing Neverwinter. I hadn't thought about Neverwinter in forever! In fact, the last time I talked about Neverwinter was back in 2016. And before that, the last time I actually played Neverwinter was back in 2014.

It was that dang Foundry system . . . it pulled me back in! I reinstalled just to see if it was still a thing and if I could play my Dragonspyre tribute dungeon again. What I found out from the Neverwinter Forums was that no, the foundry system wasn't in, but yes, it would make a return in the future! I guess this is a thing. After every major update to Neverwinter, there's a huge lag time (we're talking months) and then the Foundry system quests get published again, and then a few days later after that, the entire Foundry system once again is available.

Anyway, when I came back to Neverwinter, the Foundry system was offline thanks to the new Ravenloft expansion to the game, so I decided . . . what the heck . . . let's give this game another shot.  My character, Dr. Philgood, was level 30-something and all I needed to do was get my character to the new cap of level 70.

This free purple Owlbear mount offer from Twitch Prime was a nice encouragement as well.

My leveling up experience was . . . interesting. What I discovered was that all the leveling up areas kind of played in the exact same way. You go to a hub, you solve all the problems in that hub, culminating in a solo instance adventure, which then leads you to another hub, where you solve those problems and go deeper in the zone . . . wash, rinse, and repeat that three times and you're ready to move on to the next area of the game. Wash, rinse, and repeat that exact same thing in the next area -- only this time with different monster types. (Now that I think about it, that describes most MMOs, doesn't it?)

But in how many MMOs can you kill a beholder in . . . 2 . . . maybe 3? Still cool.

It was a little boring grinding out to max, but that's actually when it became a bit better. What I discovered was that Neverwinter has a gear rating system similar to DC Universe Online, which is a game I've played MORE than my fair share of. To level your character, you undergo "campaigns."  Campaigns lead to permanent character boosts, which equate to higher gear rating.

Oh good . . . you're still reading this blog post . . . I thought for a second all that talk of leveling and gear rating would have scared you away by now.

Long story short, the game gets a lot more fun post-70 when you're doing campaigns rather than grinding out the leveling areas.

Yes, I run from T-rex's . . . standing very still didn't work.

Just last week the Foundry system was put back into the game and I discovered that I had unpublished my "Dragonspyre" adventure in the hopes of fixing it since it was a bit buggy.  I went ahead and republished it with the bugs still in it, and after a day or two it showed up as an available quest! It was exactly as I remembered it only a lot easier since my character is a lot more powerful now.

Now for the good news for returning players in Neverwinter who want to experience Ravenloft but have bad gear ratings . . . what I also discovered was that any character that can make it through a relatively easy intro-quest to get into Ravenloft, also gets a free set of gear that boosts your character's gear rating up to a nice new minimum.  You can't beat free gear. It won't be quite enough to really demolish things in Ravenloft, but you can survive a few quests.

Barovia is a nice place once you get past the gloomy forest and deranged cultists.

And that is, in a nutshell, where I sit currently with Neverwinter.  I think my current plan is to keep logging in daily while I still have VIP membership and grind out some of these older campaigns to get my character a few more boosts.  When I reach a certain gear level, I'll be able to survive a bit better in Chult and Ravenloft, which are kind of the end campaigns in the game currently.

I'll let you know how it goes, and if I'm feeling brave enough for the challenge, I might take my hand-written D&D 5e dungeon and try to recreate it in the Foundry system . . . we'll see.

Happy Dueling!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Medulla Conquered at Long Last: Thanks Cat Club!

You know what's amazing?  People . . . uh, gamer people . . . uh, famous gamer people like THEE Blaze Lifehammer and THEE Tara Dawnbreaker and THEE Marcus River.

Just look at this team. We're gonna do great!

That's right! That's us standing tall in Sepidious after a successful run at Medulla that was streamed last night on Tara's Twitch Channel. Tara was kind enough to also put up a YouTube highlight of the run as well:

I couldn't be happier with how smoothly this thing ran. These guys have this down so good it was absolutely the best time I've had in Wizard101 in a long time. Big ups to the Big Names in Wizard101! They've totally earned their reputations. Quality peeps.

As part of the benefit of working here, KingsIsle employees get a stipend of Crowns to spend each month, so I took advantage of that and blew all my KI Employee Crowns on the second chance chest at the end and ended up with a full set of Cabalist gear . . . banner and all. :)

Oooo! glowing green eye of doom!

Looks pretty cool, but I think I'm going to need to stitch that to my traditional Friendly Necromancer outfit because, yo, that's my jam.  The Friendly Necromancer needs to *look* like the Friendly Necromancer . . . um, I'll just need to wait until I get my Crowns stipend again. *whistles*

Something I don't need to stitch is this adorable Tara Dawnbreaker MERCH!

Adorable! amirite?

I do need to wash it though. ;) (pulled that out of the laundry bin for the pic -- still need to get out that new shirt vinegar smell)

Happy Dueling!