@_ReElise Kickstarter Countdown: Lessons Learned About Christian Video Games & Creating Urgency

ReElise Hip-Hop Retro-Style JRPG - A Christian Game For Everyone - Now On Kickstarter!

Fellow geeks and creatives, this is the official 48-hour countdown for the ReElise Kickstarter project.  In case you’ve missed all the hoopla surrounding this project, we’re excited because this is an ambitious project that incorporates a lot of things that we love: hip-hop, retro flava, hand-drawn graphics, JRPG mechanics, exploration, fun gameplay, and a story with lots of feels.  In an industry where metoo-ism dominates, it’d be nice to see something unique succeed and we’re all about the underdogs!

I’d like to take this moment to provide some simple opportunities to help this Christian video game project reach more people.  Here are some “quickies”, straight from the Kickstarter page:

  1. Subscribe to our mailing list – http://eepurl.com/cdfqS9
  2. Comment on anything you find mentioning ReElise – let’s show our unity!
  3. Share our art and talk about ReElise on Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
  4. Use the tags #elamaan #reelise #noroomfox to help spread the movement
  5. Share our videos on YouTube wherever possible
  6. Introduce us to bloggers, journalists, podcasters, and video personalities so we can get more reviews, interviews, and guest articles out there so we can tap into new communities and media outlets – let’s make more friends!
  7. Share our promos on your timelines regularly (but don’t spam please) and tag 5 friends that will respond to specific aspects of the project (i.e. black game dev, hip-hop, Christian themes, hand-drawn graphics, awesome sound track, JRPG)

Now, for anyone getting hung up on the Christian video game aspect, do not be alarmed.  The themes in this game are very much relatable for people of all walks of life.  In fact, we’re finding that the secular response has been far more positive than what the Christian community has been, which is rather surprising.

Below, we’ll get into some of the revelations we’ve discovered and reinforced along the way…

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How To Win On Heroes Of The Storm When You’re A Scrub Like Me!

Heroes Of The Storm - Official Splash Screen & Logo - Copyright Blizzard

Heroes Of The Storm has been in closed beta since around January 13th but, since people can easily score beta keys or buy in (not sure on the latter since the Founder’s Pack was removed), now is the time when the more toxic players and feeders come into the fray.  I have decided we NEED a simple guide for those of us that want to compete but don’t want to break out calculators or make Heroes Of The Storm a career move..  Oh, and have FUN playing the game; after all, that should be the first priority!

I will open up by saying that Heroes Of The Storm is the one MOBA I can wholeheartedly recommend to all my friends, unless they don’t like the overhead/isometric view or are graphics snobs that need bleeding-edge technology even if the gameplay sucks otherwise.  Blizzard has done it again by taking a growing space and making it their own.  Here is a MOBA/ARTS (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena / Action Real Time Strategy) game that is truly accessible and plays more like an action game than a weird, drawn-out experience of Farmville mixed with Archon: Battle Chess.  It’s fun, even when you’re losing badly..  Well, maybe if you’re not a sore loser.

This game has tons of depth without the high barrier to entry.   The tedious elements that ruin other MOBAs or make them good only in small doses have been removed.  Rather than worrying on last-hitting, denying creep farm/score (CS), or calculating your effective DPS after AC, resistances, shields, debuffs, auras, and sun-moon alignment offsets, you can actually focus on strategies and adapting to dynamic scenarios that are always exciting and intense.

As such, we’ll be kicking off an exclusive GeekyAntics series called VGB (Video Game Brawls) where we’ll compare games of similar styles and give you our verdict on which one, as objectively as possible, is the best across quantifiable categories. But, for now, I’m going to share what I’ve learned on HotS since playing in the alpha.

Heroes Of The Storm - Nova, Sylvanas, Illidan, and other heroes!

Nova, Nazeebo, and Sylvanas? YES please!

 

 

It’s NOT Pay To Win

There’s a lot of salt about the pricing structure on HotS but people forget that the game just recently went into beta.  I agree that it is pricey but it’s actually still cheaper than the ever-popular yet still ridiculous League Of Legends.  The only thing that tips the scale on HotS are the premium mounts but, still, LoL has had $40 skins sooooo…

The important thing here is that you don’t put money into this game and suddenly start winning, which is the epitome of pay-to-win.  In fact, I would recommend sticking to the heroes that cost 2K or 4K gold (in-game currency).  These heroes will be easier for newer players to get used to and eventually master.

You might see a top-tier hero dominating but don’t think it’s the hero and not the player.  The game is balanced so that every hero has a fighting chance and can contribute to the team’s effort.  So, if you want to drop mad gold on a Jaina, Kerrigan, Thrall, or whatever, you may want to hold off.  Heroes with unique mechanics like Nazeebo, Lost Vikings, and Abathur typically work against your team if you do not have sufficient experience.  Let’s not even talk about Nazeebo body-blocking his own team with those damn zombies..  Oops, too late!

Whereas other MOBA/ARTS  games have characters that are easily broken to the point of being unfair or, on the flip side, picks that are almost unplayable, Heroes Of The Storm is very well balanced.  I’ve seen “never spend a dime” type players beat fully-invested players.  Pick any hero..  It all comes down to skill and which team plays best together.

Heroes Of The Storm HD Wallpaper - Arthas, Thrall, Kerrigan, and Illidan - HDWALLPAPERS.COM

Dat Kerrigan booty, doe. Who wins the booty contest: Jaina, Kerrigan, Nova, or Tyrande? [Source: HDWallPapers.com ]

Don’t Get Stuck On Kills

Contrary to popular belief, the Takedowns stat in Heroes Of The Storm refers to assists or participation in kills.  There is no formal KDA tracked in HotS, certainly not on an individual basis.  Kills also represent a smaller XP gain when compared to taking objectives like destroying enemy structures, clearing lanes, and taking mercenary camps.  Even when the kills are worth more, one must consider the time lost while other things happen..  Like your base being overrun (yes, this happens..  TOO often).

Killing enemies and dominating the opposing team is always fun but it mainly serves the purpose of creating opportunities, whether it’s pushing lanes, capturing mercenary camps, or taking map objectives (e.g. tributes, spider gems, and dubloons).  The respawn timer prior to level 13 just isn’t long enough to make pursuing kills truly worthwhile when there are objectives that will push towards victory faster and more consistently.

The #1 mistake I think players make on any MOBA/ARTS game is that they get tunnel vision and focus on kills too much.  This leads to frustration and missed opportunities.  It’s very easy to lose sight of the objectives on any given battleground/map on HotS so don’t worry about falling behind on kills or even levels.  In fact, when you fall behind on levels, it’s best to avoid team fights until it’s absolutely necessary.

 

Master The Mundane: The Basics Of MOBAs

You may hear die-hard MOBA veterans talk about how players should focus on the fundamentals.  Practice more, play against bots, L2P, etc.  But what does this all mean?

The basics are the things you will naturally get better at if you are aware of them and gain more experience.  It includes…

  • Map Awareness – Everyone struggles here to some degree.  You have to train yourself to notice the minimap and see if any enemies are unaccounted for..  And possibly doing something that could hurt your team.
  • Timing – Play a MOBA enough and you start to get a feel for when an attack will happen, objectives refreshed, or you should fall back/regroup.
  • XP Soak/Laning – Most MOBAs require that you stay in lanes as much as possible to soak up XP as enemies die but in HotS there is no formal laning phase.  Some might say it’s up to when you reach level 10 but that’s more a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule.
  • Positioning – Fighting a battle at multiple fronts rarely ends well, especially when your squishy damage dealers are singled out, leaving the rest of your team somewhat helpless.
  • Rotating – This ties into positioning and laning.  Basically, when you rotate, you see a teammate change positions and you swap with them.  This ensures there is always proper XP soak but, more importantly, it helps against mis-matched lanes situation where a hero keeps getting picked on.  Rotating when taking objectives is key so that you maximize XP.
  • Disengaging – Knowing when to back out of a fight is something that few people have mastered 100%.  You have to make snap decisions and sometimes they will be the wrong ones but, ultimately, any fight you can walk away from is a good one.
  • Initiating – When the fight looks promising and everyone is in position, someone has to take point and intiatie the fight/engage.  This is usually the tank/warrior’s job since they can likely take a lot of lumps and live to tell the story later.
  • Skill Shots– Abilities that require aiming are tricky because sometimes you have to lead shots and account for projectile travel speed, as well as likely jukes/pathing and obstacles.

For many, positioning and being aware of what is going on off-screen is easier said than done.  I would say it all comes down to confidence in yourself and, more importantly, in your team.  In my experience, losing streaks happen when teams get deflated and sloppy as a result, and not vice versa.  You won’t ever be perfect at the aforementioned but practice will improve your performance.  Until then, don’t beat yourself up over mistakes because once you start hesitating or doubting, things only get worse – TRUST! [Read more…]

Are Live Giveaways [On Twitch] Worth It?

Oprah Winfrey LOVES giving away free stuff!

This article is one of many follow-ups to our most popular article, The Honest Way To Succeed On Twitch And Social Media – if you love it, please leave comments.  We are considering doing video, eBooks, and other content to help everyday folks really figure out social media..  Give us the creative nudge we need and share this forward… Or leave some thoughtful comments to keep the discussion going (to may have mentioned this already)!

Giveaways are something everyone has dabbled with on Twitch.  They’re a fairly common practice yet few really know what they are doing.  This is not a jab at Twitch streamers, bloggers, or anyone doing business and creating online.  Social media is something you just never fully master, even if you have formal education and extensive experience.

A debate I’ve had with many Twitch streamers, including our pals Link & Lily over at Linkwall, is this:

Are giveaways even worth it?

That’s a loaded question because, if giveaways didn’t produce results, people would never do them.  So the real issues here revolve around whether giveaways are right for your brand and how you should go about doing them.

 

My Fun (And Not So Fun) Experience With Giveaways

Once upon a time, I was a partner and part owner over at Social Prize, a company that was poised to take the social media world by storm.  Me and Spathizilla turned the platform into something worth talking about.  On the surface, it was a giveaway platform like Rafflecopter, Woobox, Offerpop, and whatever else you can think of, but we were building it to be more than that.

Sadly, our vision would take time to bring to life and we came into the business after the company had pissed money away.  It’s no fun building up a company when it’s recovering from serious debt and really piss-poor missteps..  But that’s another story for another time.

Being a part of Social Prize and involved with countless giveaways as a publisher, consumer, and product manager made me realize that giveaways really do work..  But most people on social media, Twitch in particular, are doing them wrong because they don’t have that background.  There are legal risks, hidden costs, subtle strategies, and much more to consider beyond the simple tactics and tech of merely executing them.

Let’s explore some of the nuances of giveaways together…

Fat Business Man With A Cigar

Legal Poop About Giveaways, Sweepstakes, And Contests

First and foremost, it is very important to differentiate contests from giveaways because they are NOT the same thing.  People often use the terms “giveaway” and “contest” interchangeably but, the bigger your brand, the more dangerous this faux pas becomes.  Here’s why:

  • Giveaways [and sweepstakes] are supposed to be 100% random or luck-driven.  Any performance piece or “purchase” could put you in the dangerous territory of illegal gambling.  At the very least, labeling a contest as a “giveaway” would be a failure at managing expectations.
  • Contests are performance-driven so the time required to succeed in them is far greater than what you’d see in giveaways.  It’s also more easily understood that it’s not a “set it and forget it” proposition for publishers and participants alike; that is, people know there is a need to put in continued effort.  Conversely, the notion of daily entries on giveaways often eludes people.

In addition to the aforementioned distinctions, there are legal risks with giveaways, contests, or any sort of social media or marketing promotion.  Twitch continues to update their Terms Of Service but this is what they have to say about promotions (i.e. self-promotion and sales/marketing) in general as of March 26, 2015.  You are not allowed to…

make unsolicited offers, advertisements, proposals, or send junk mail or spam to other Users of the Twitch Service, including, without limitation, unsolicited advertising, promotional materials, or other solicitation material, bulk mailing of commercial advertising, chain mail, informational announcements, charity requests, petitions for signatures, or any of the foregoing related to promotional giveaways (such as raffles and contests), and other similar activities;

Yet people do giveaways on Twitch all the time.  As with any legal jargon, you have to read between the lines.  Twitch has been known to say things like “we are in the progress of updating our terms of service” and “we have discretionary power [to do whatever the hell we want]” so be wary of this.  There are always rules and laws on the books that don’t get enforced until you ruffle someone’s feathers.

The key to any sort of marketing is making sure you represent your brand properly, manage expectations effectively, and avoid misrepresenting your offerings.  In other words, don’t bait and switch people or you may find yourself in the midst of a legal battle.  With regards to Twitch, you want to make sure the brunt of your activity is gaming-related (non-gaming content can get you suspended like we did on GeekyAntics TV) and serves their best interests first and foremost; namely, you want to keep their users happy and on their platform.

No Purchase Required.  Make sure your giveaway has an easy entry method and an alternative for those that may not be able to get in via conventional means.  The bigger the prize, the more important this is.  While people are paying with their time and money, make sure they are not actually spending money to earn an entry.   There are also rules that vary by state and country regarding the prize value, tax liability, and the like but that information can be found online or via an attorney for little or no money if you’re smart about it.

 

[Read more…]

HorsePLAY! Marvel Puzzle Quest Strategies With CaptinChaos & Yogizilla

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign

In keeping with the #RetroFriday spirit, EP20 of HorsePLAY! LIVE delved into the simple little games that have us addicted.  Are games like Hearthstone and Marvel Puzzle Quest the real next generation of gaming we’ve been waiting for?  We think so.

Here are some of the highlights of the show before we jump into some Marvel Puzzle Quest strategies.  We did not quite get into Hearthstone as heavily as we wanted in the episode but don’t worry: we’ll be revisiting the game lots..  Yeah, I know: we talk about it lots here at Geeky Antics – we’ll convert you yet!

Obligatory News:

  • ARS Technica Steam game library usage and ownership stats.
  • Microsoft announces XBox Originals Channel.  New video games..  Sure, we’ll have those too..  Eventually.
  • Bungie veteran, Marty O’Donnell fired without cause.
  • Hearthstone Fireside Gatherings a flop so far… or are they?
  • Twitter changes have been rolled out – hello Facebook Junior!

Opinions & Discussions:

  • Dear consoles, please focus on GAMES…  We have junk to consume as it is.
  • How Marty discovered Bungie years ago.
  • Remember the precursor to Halo?  Neither do we.
  • Macs have games too!
  • Imagine if Halo was an Apple exclusive..  YUCK.
  • The state of the gaming industry is pretty sad now BUT…
  • Tabletop gaming and indie games are on the rise – YAY!
  • Twitter, if you become craptastic like Facebook, FUCK YOU!

Don’t forget: if you want to join the conversation, perhaps disagree with our points or shed some light on things, leave us voicemail at (206) 415-4987.  Keep it simple and sweet, por favor – we will play them during our shows and discuss!

So, during EP20, we hit upon a lot of key strategies for newbies and players having trouble in Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign.  The idea is to prevent endless grinding and dropping money, which sucks unless you have tons of money and time to throw away.  Here are some of the things Chip Cella (a.k.a. @CaptinChaos)  of The B-Team Podcast, our resident MPQ ninja, suggested to keep the game fun and help you PWN (without making it into a lifestyle game):

  • Save Hero Coins for roster spots.
  • Focus your ISO on maxing your top characters, rather than leveling them all up evenly.
  • Keep “Fishnet” Black Widow or Amazing Spider-Man in your to keep your teammates healed.
  • During PvP events, farm newbies instead of going for difficult targets – use the skip button to avoid needless knock-outs.
  • If you’re just starting out, grind the campaign and AI battles to get easy ISO and Hero Coins..  Farm newbies too.
  • Do not waste Hero Coins on health packs – they regenerate once you go below a five count.
  • Remember: this is not Candy Crush..  MPQ is the match-three puzzle game for strategy lovers and deep thinkers!

Here are some other tips that I have found useful.  I will preface these tips by saying I avoid any scenario where I am playing for several hours at end.  I love this game and want to avoid burning out on it and making it a grind like I did with my previous mobile game of choice, Rage Of Bahamut (a.k.a. Mobage’s relentless money grab).

Original Black Widow (a.k.a. Fishnet)

Fishnet & The Support Crew

Original Black Widow, affectionately called “Fishnet”, is easily one of the Top 5 characters in Marvel Puzzle Quest.  She compliments any team you add her too, especially against teams that need black, purple, and blue matches to activate abilities.  Her abilities can best be described as follows:

Heals and steals.

Ideally, you want to place her alongside a higher-level, tankier (high life/hit points) character(s) with same-colored abilities.   This will prevent her from taking too much damage, which is good since she can be one-hit by certain characters (i.e. Wolverine).  Some good teammates for her include…

  • Storm
  • Moonstone
  • Venom
  • Bullseye

For heavy grinding sessions, I find the combination of Daken, Fishnet, and Moonstone/Thor/Wolverine works really well.  Daken adds stacking damage and tanks incoming damage while the third character provides the burst damage and “bigger body”.  Your preferences may be different depending on how aggressive you want to be.  Admittedly, Daken takes time to build up damage with strike tiles but his self-healing ability makes him great.

Marvel Puzzle Quest - Amazing Spider-Man - Spidey

Fishnet Black Widow is what I would call a support character.  If you don’t have her, there are other options for mitigating damage, whether you are healing or blocking damage.   Amazing Spider-Man is likely your next best bet since he can stun AND heal.  Here are some other solid picks:

  • Modern Black Widow
  • Bullseye
  • Yelena Belova Black Widow
  • Captain America
  • Iron Man Model 35
  • Iron Man Model 45
  • Magneto (ALL)
  • Loki
  • Moonstone

Support roles go beyond healing and stealing.  Characters like Yelena Belova (evil Black Widow), Loki, Magneto,  and Bullseye can create and manipulate special tiles, which can be devastating against opponent teams that rely on them.

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Captain America VS. Moonstone

Between Captain America and Moonstone, I feel Moonstone is the best pick.  Captain America feels like an under-powered Iron Man Model 35.  Here is why he sucks:

  • His powers/abilities take too long to ramp up.
  • His damage output is poop.
  • He is balanced and, by extension, not very good at anything.

Captain America does have more HP than most support characters.  He also has a stun ability plus the ability to cycle abilities but, if the countdown tiles get removed, his effectiveness is negated.  Cap is just not good for aggressive wins and, thus, using him becomes a grindfest…  Meh.

Moonstone, on the other hand, can manipulate the board, do massive burst damage (based upon how many red tiles are in stock), and she can stun opponents.  She is amazing yet she doesn’t get nearly enough love.  I love you Moonstone.

Ms. Marvel..  Or Is That Moonstone?

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Hearthstone PAX East News With The B-Team PLUS More Previews & Core Concepts

The B-Team Podcast - Blizzard Interview About Hearthstone

For several weeks on HorsePLAY! LIVE and in the GANG community, we’ve been predicting the release schedule for various killer features that will keep Hearthstone on our playlist and get more of our friends on-board.  In our previous article on how to get the Hearthstone iPad app now (and get started right), we shared how to get rocking on your Apple device NOW but it seems the need for the work-around is quickly fading away.  The B-Team Podcast has confirmed that the window is currently within a week or so.  I am guessing before my birthday this Saturday, April 19th – that’s great news, everyone!

B-Team PAX East Blizzard Interview Key Take-Aways:

  • Blizzard qualifies this as CCG, not a TCG, which means we should not hold our breath for trading or auctioning of any sort.
  • Hearthstone is the CCG for everyone.
  • They’re prioritizing creating a great game over the obligatory “merchandising bonanza” and cross-promotion.
  • The iPad experience is the same as on PC and Mac.
  • There are no pay gates or pay walls.
  • One of their core philosophies is balancing the game so you can be competitive without spending tons of time or money.

All this is great news and should encourage newer players or anyone who is on the fence.  I was surprised that there was no indication about spectator mode from any PAX East coverage.  Blizzard has said it is a “top priority” but I reckon other components and features are the focus.   I really feel that Blizzard is focusing on the more casual competitive community before catering to the hardcore eSports type players  I’d say too much of a focus on eSports features which would make Hearthstone more exclusive and scary for the average gamer.

Our own Stan Faryna cited concerns with matchmaking and the new player experience, by extension.  Blizzard confirmed that it is something they will keep fine-tuning.  Hearthstone is the game many Blizzard developers have wanted to play themselves so they want it to be fun for everyone.  During the B-Team interview, they briefly summarized how each of the primary gameplay modes handle matchmaking differently:

  • Casual – As Stan says, casual play can be frustrating.  I find that early in any season, the competition is most fierce due to a smaller player pool and sample data to work with perhaps.  I do win most of my matches here unless I start experimenting too much.
  • Ranked – This ladder mode looks more at stars and current rank so it’s easier to find a close match, in theory.  This mode seems to be the most fair mid-way through any season, with the exception of smurfs and fast-tracked/pay-to-win players.
  • Arena – This uses a completely different system.  Blizzard is unclear (“shocker”) on what this means.  I still find arena truly levels the playing field and rewards the most skilled players.  Luck of the draw when building decks is an issue here, however.

Blizzard assures us that the client-server model, as opposed to peer-to-peer, so cheating should be minimized.  The only issue Blizzard has encountered often is with trolls milking the timer.   Never fear – they are working on improving that!  Unlike their parent company, EA, I have faith Blizzard will commit to their promises and support this game for many years to come, much like they have with Warcraft III and Diablo II, two of my all-time favorite games.

Blizzard also confirmed during the PAX East interview what many of us have already noticed: [two of] the top Twitch streamers have gone up the ladder to Legendary rank within a week or two without spending money.  I believe TrumpSC is one of them.  Of course, if you want to see how NOT to play Hearthstone, watch me on Twitch or check out the NEW! TwitchPlaysHearthstone, which is similar to the newbtastic, cringe-worthy experience on TwitchPlaysPokemon.

Joystiq has a quick-and-dirty Hearthstone PAX East cheat sheet that does a really good job of highlighting the big things we can expect this year.  The biggest details revolve around the upcoming Hearthstone expansion, affectionately called CoN.

Hearthstone - Adventure Mode - Curse Of NaxxramasCurse of Naxxramas is slated for Summer 2014 but I would not be surprised if the first boss encounter or episode is released within a few weeks as I write this.   I reckon Blizzard wants to control the release of new cards so that newer players can avoid feeling overwhelmed.  I think that is fair.

Jesse Cox reports from PAX East - Hearthstone Curse Of Naxxramas!The first CoN corridor or wing (Arachnid) will be FREE but, as we see in arena, a buy-in will be required for new runs.  While this expansion brings tons of singleplayer content, the addition of 30 new cards will certainly spice up PvP quite a bit.  More seasoned duelists like myself, Sworen, and ObioneX2 are eagerly awaiting new cards but, honestly, I think the current card set is fine.

What’s really important here is that Adventure Mode will give newer or lesser-skilled players the opportunity to test out new strategies in a more controlled environment since bosses will use pre-constructed themed decks.  With less room to blame external circumstances or luck, players can actual train and improve!  I know Stan will love what this expansion means for the game.  For me, the fact that I have gamer ADD means that I need more variety and Blizzard is delivering so THANK YOU!

Hearthstone Curse Of Naxxramas Adventure Mode #paxxramasQuite a few cards have been revealed but let’s discuss the ones most of us find interesting.   First and foremost, you’ll see that they are committing to the deathrattle mechanic quite a bit; however, there are still no signs of new classes and archetypes.  That means no elf, unicorn, dragon, or orc synergies…  Perhaps that would make the game less accessible..  Sorry but it’s true.  If you want over-complicated game mechanics, consider Scrolls, SolForge, Magic The Gathering, or Yu-Gi-Oh!, where the possibilities are endless..  almost to the point of utter frustration just keeping up with the current meta and most viable strategies.

Okay, okay, here are the cards: Undertaker gains a +1/+1 when minions with deathrattle are summoned.  Baron Rivendare will cause the deathrattle ability to trigger twice, which will certainly shift the meta and make for some interesting video highlights.  I can’t wait!  We wonder if this will replace Murlock aggro/rush decks as the new over-played core mechanic.  Deathrattle is already sexy but now we will see it as a theme around which decks will be built.

Dear Blizzard, you *NEED* to add more deck slots.  Hell, you can even monetize and bundle it with big-ticket purchases to justify expediting feature.  Really, additional deck slots would be a value-add just because it would allow players to compare different builds with their favorite heroes/classes.  Deck and class-based  stats could then be introduced, too!  We’d play a whole lot Hearthstone with these features in place.  Currently, getting attached to a deck is not possible so naming them is almost arbitrary and pointless.  Just sayin.

Shade Of Naxxramas is a 3-cost minion who starts at 2/2 with stealth and gains +1/+1 at the start of each turn.  Shade sounds like a stronger Jungle Panther, since this minion has the ability to stick and scale.  That means she will have the opportunity to get more damage out, which is HUGE.  Dancing Swords is 4/4 3-mana card.  It’s deathrattle effect gives your opponent cards, which makes this card questionable at first but…

We have seen a rise in Priest  with heavy card draw mechanics built right in.  The guys at The Angry Chicken say that milling (making your opponent run out of cards) is not a viable core mechanic or strategy but I beg to differ.  I’ve had opponents bleed out when they got too greedy.  What’s more is that Priests have the ability to mass dispel (silence), so they can theoretically play Dancing Swords without the penalty, which will likely make them more aggressive and popular.

Enough about the cards…  What about RNG?

RNG, known to game developers and designers as Random Number Generator, refers to the random seed process and algorithms that work behind the scenes.   Any element of random can be attributed to RNG.  In a deckbuilding game, you can express this as a fraction.  For example, you have a x/y chance to draw a card from a deck.  X is how many copies of the card you have and Y is the deck size.  Don’t forget to simplify and, if you prefer percentages, divide the numerator (the top number) by the denominator (the bottom number).

Kids, be sure to tell your parents you learned something useful today.  Math is OP.  For realz.

The big question about Hearthstone and other deckbuilding games is whether random elements trump skill.  I still say “NO” with regards to Hearthstone.  There are popular streamers that consistently get to the top tier of rankings so, logically, it can’t be all about random luck.  Give SolForge a try if you doubt this.  I love SolForge but it is much more of a grind for players trying to avoid dumping money in.  SolForge refreshes your hand every turn so you may never get the right card you want, even if you run multiple copies and incorporate lots of card-draw combos.

As we will often find, the key in any TCG/CCG is mitigating the random elements rather than waiting to top-deck the card you really need or hoping your opponent makes a mistake.   You need to be deliberate and aware.  Here are some core concepts to note:

  • Card Draw – Many decks run out of steam late-game, which is why Priests, Beasts, and Warlocks are very popular – they have tons of ways to draw more cards.  The more cards you have in your hand late-game, the more options you have.
  • Play Order – One of the things we often take for granted is the order in which cards are played.  The wrong order can cause unnecessary damage to your own minions or accidental enraging/buffing of enemy minions, just for starters.
  • Wait & Combo -Just because you can make a play on a turn does not mean it is the best play.  Consider the combos and potential value of a big play later.  Leaving a single minion to the slaughter is rarely a good idea, especially if they
  • Two For One – The simplest rule of thumb is the most basic math of efficiency: any action that can counter an opponent’s (or cause them to take) two or three actions is a solid play.  This would indicate that minions with abilities are particularly useful but sometimes it’s about preventing repeat use from opponent plays (like that one minion that keeps snake biting you).
  • Trade Or Face? – This is the question you’ll often be faced with.  Do you do damage to the face or trade up with minions?  It all depends on the threats on the board and what you suspect your opponent has waiting for you.  The main thing to consider is how likely it will be that minions you spared this turn will be buffed somehow, which means continued value for your opponent…  And potential damage to YOUR face.
  • Premature Ejaculation – It’s easy to blow your metaphorical load on Hearthstone.  You maysee the opportunity to remove a minion and forget about the other threats your opponent may have.  Board clear is very good but be wary of opponents with full hands..  They are likely trying to bait you to waste your counters.

These concepts apply to just about every card game but Hearthstone is arguably the easiest to get into.  Now, we can talk about the strategy all day but it really comes down to the basics: patience and experience.  If you get frustrated and forget to have fun, nothing else really matters.  Find a deck build that you enjoy and focus on that a bit.  Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.  Streaming on Twitch certainly welcomes advice, warranted or not.

Hearthstone: Deceptively Simple, Insanely FunHearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft truly is deceptively simple (yeah, it’s not just catchy marketing copy, guys).  It’s easy to get into but, like with any other deckbuilding game, there are many layers of depth and strategy.  Experience goes a long way so, if you want to build up an early advantage, it may be best to jump into the game right now and learn the ropes before new cards and game mechanics are introduced.  The meta will inevitably shift with every tweak but the game is stable and balanced now.

So what are you waiting for?

Tell us what’s keeping you from playing Hearthstone TODAY..  Or maybe what you love most about it.  It’s all good in da hood, y0.  If you’re still unsure about Hearthstone, I’ll sell you on it yet!  If you have questions or concerns, share them with us – don’t be shy!

See you in the comments section!

 

How To Get Hearthstone On iPad Now & Get Started RIGHT

Hearthstone Heroes Of Warcraft Title Banner

GREAT NEWS, everyone: Hearthstone is now available on iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPoop)!

While many of us are rolling our eyes at the fact that this is a soft launch in test markets and the Android app is still months away, those who happen to have a Crapple device can now enjoy Hearthstone on the can..  See what I did there?  We are going to share how you can join in on the action while also looking at some upcoming features, tips and tricks, and other goodies.

First and foremost, there are two ways you can get the Hearthstone app on your iPhone and iPad.  The easy way is to live in Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.  The hard way is moving there just to get your Hearthstone fix wherever you go.

No worries – there is a third way to get Hearthstone on your iPoop device!

What you want to do is switch your Apple App Store region to Canada and trick your device into thinking you are there.  I’m not sure if you have to even have to change your address but this is what I tested successfully:

  1. Go into Settings then iTunes / App Store and tap your Apple ID.
  2. Click View Apple ID and then change your region to Canada.
  3. Agree to the terms then edit your profile.
  4. Choose “none” for payment.
  5. Copy and paste a Canada address from a public listing (i.e. apartment listings).
  6. Choose “none” for payment.
  7. Open up the App Store and download Hearthstone.
  8. Launch Hearthstone and play a match or two – ENJOY!
  9. Receive your FREE “expert pack” after playing one match.

After you test that Hearthstone has successfully installed, you can revert back to your original settings.  The trickiest part is finding an address that is publicly listed.  I recommend using something buried in the search engine results so we’re not all living in the same place (LOL).  Apartment listings, retail stores, and bank addresses are all public domain so it should not take long to find.  The specific steps thereof may vary if you have not upgraded to iOS 7.x yet but it is very easy to figure this out.

Poking The Hearthstone iPad / iOS App

[ source: Hung Tran Nguyen ]

There are two big reasons why the iOS test launch of the Hearthstone app are huge news:

  1. This means the bigger updates are right around the corner.
  2. Deckbuilding games lend themselves well to mobile devices.

I know lots of you geeks and gamers out there have been holding out for Hearthstone to come out on their preferred mobile devices.  Some are just waiting for Blizzard to polish the game further and balance everything out.  Blizzard opted to do a rather soft launch for Hearthstone but I reckon now may be the best time to jump in, unless you rather wait a two or three months for the Android app.

If you are hesitant about trying out Hearthstone, perhaps some thoughts from our own Stan Faryna may provide some  perspective for TCG/CCG newbies:

Assuming the average fight takes 10 minutes…

If you win on average one out of 20 times, that’s 3.3 hours to get one win. And not necessarily any gold in that time with the exception of possible quests and level-ups.

Where’s the “good” game play for the free player?  If you win on average one out of six times, that’s one hour to get to a win. You are unlikely to make gold to buy a pack of cards (or do the arena) with two or three hours of play.

Where’s the “good” game play for the casual player?
What kind of game play should a free player expect?
What kind of game play should a casual player expect?

 Hearthstone is without a doubt the TCG (Tradeable Card Game) for non-TCG/CCG players.   Is there a pay-to-win element?  Sure but what free-to-play game doesn’t have that (the answer is NONE)?  Are there balancing issues?  Absolutely but online games are almost always works in progress.  A look at the development road map may help you appreciate just how much Blizzard is committed to casual and hardcore gamers alike.

Let’s look at a few key points here.  I want to sell you on Hearthstone so we can have Geeky Antics / HorsePLAY! game nights.  Please keep an open mind…

 

Blizzard Has Mastered Mass Appeal

Between the familiarity of their intellectual property, the mythos and universe they have weaved for over two decades, and their accessible (not watered-down) game mechanics, Blizzard has mastered creating mass appeal for their properties.  Virtually everyone has heard of Blizzard, even if they’re not a gamer..  Or they’ve at least heard of World of Warcraft..  Remember that game?

Hearthstone Cameo On World Of Warcraft

Hearthstone is already becoming quite pervasive.  Even before we lucky gamers got into the closed beta, the game was teased in World of Warcraft.  That was back in 2012 and Hearthstone is popping up in more and more conversations.

What’s amazing is how people that would otherwise make fun of deckbuilding games or actively avoid them are enjoying Hearthstone.  For some, it’s the lore and mythos behind the game but, for everyone, it’s the balance and relative ease that makes Hearthstone appealing.

Blizzard has had a fantastic track record bringing niche genres into the forefront and pioneering fresh video game concepts.  Starcraft and Warcraft made RTS games more mainstream than ever, paving the way for eSports.  Diablo made hack-and-slash lootfests a thing.  World of Warcraft got everyone on the MMO bandwagon and introduced billions of gamers to the Warcraft universe.  Now, Hearthstone is bringing TCGs to a much wider audience than Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic The Gathering combined.  Let’s not forget Heroes Of The Storm, which is positioned to make the MOBA/ARTS genre even more of a mainstream activity.

 

You Don’t Have To Do PvP

Expert Mode bot battles should be coming back.  During the Hearthstone beta, you could battle more difficult bots for better rewards.  For some reason, Blizzard gave this feature the axe but there is still Practice mode if you really hate losing or just don’t like PvP.  I get it: no one likes to lose all the time.

Adventure Mode will change things up quite a bit by providing a story-driven single-player experience.  According to the Gamepedia unofficial Hearthstone development wiki, the first installment/episode is set to follow the iOS app release.  Assuming the test launch does not count, we should be about six weeks away from this, likely sooner.

My recommendation is that any new player avoid any PvP matchmaking and stick to friendly duels with friends and Practice mode.  You want to at least grasp the core mechanics and unlock the basic cards for your heroes of choice before diving into more competitive play.  Doing otherwise will lead to unfair expectations and quick judgements.

There are plenty of players out there that do strategy streams, podcasts, and videos.  I am also more than happy to coach new players.  Add me – my BattleTag is Yogizilla#1722.  Hearthstone is definitely meant to be enjoyed with friends.  The community as a whole is friendly so it’s a great place to connect with new geeks!

Learn the basics and the game suddenly becomes more fun..  And you lose less, regardless of the cards.

Hearthstone - Board Layout & Basics Diagram

If you jump straight into human matches, you’re just asking for trouble.  The forced tutorial does a good job of introducing the board layout and basics but a little practice makes PvP much more fun.  You want to at least unlock most of the heroes and core decks before you can find your sweet spot and WIN!

 

Wait..  Is Hearthstone A Pay-To-Win Game?!

Hellz to da NO!

Certainly, the pay-to-win element is there.  I have to reiterate that this is just how free-to-play has to be.  The 20% or so will always make it possible for the rest of us to play for free or on the cheap.   Let’s not forget that video games have business interest and have to make money like everyone else.  It’s only when the pursuit of financial interest over-powers player skill and fun that I would say a game is truly pay-to-win.

We’ll be highlighting EP17 of HorsePLAY! LIVE here on Geeky Antics to dig deeper into the issues of pay-to-win, pesky paywalls, and weak core mechanics.  For now, suffice to say that Blizzard has balanced Hearthstone quite well.  They’ve made it so that skill and fun are still the focus, though paying with time and/or money still give you an edge.

I would say that, compared to other deckbuilding games, Hearthstone has the most diverse meta.  I’ve seen tons of different types of decks and combos.  More importantly, every player has a fighting chance if they are patient and learn the strategies behind it all.

Archmage Antonidas - Legendary Card For Mages In Hearthstone

Now, there is the matter of legendary cards.  In some deckbuilding games, expensive and uber-rare cards are almost auto-wins and insta-adds for any deck.  I don’t find that is the case in Hearthstone, though they help without a doubt.

I have not spent any real money on Hearthstone (yet) and I have beaten plenty of uber decks.  I slacked quite a bit during the beta and it’s only now that Season 1 started that I am really doing my time – in a good way!  In my case, I am familiar with the game mechanics of deckbuilding games as a whole so that helps but I have brought new players into Hearthstone and they picked up the game rather quickly.  That proves that it’s not about the cards you own or even how much time you put in.

To me, any game that requires too much investment of time or money is not fun.  You should be able to pick up a game and enjoy it right off the bat.  If it’s a competitive game, time spent mastering the game should be rewarded but new players should also have the opportunity to compete in a fair and balanced environment.

 

Arena Gives You Bang For Your Buck

I totally recommend this game to anyone curious about what makes a deckbuilding game fun.  I will say that it is best to stick to Practice and friendly matches.  Once you unlock the basic cards (one per hero level for a total of 10 unlocks), your deckbuilding options really open up and you’ll be able to try out new strategies.

I would say after at least a week or 12 hours of solid gameplay, you may want to try out Arena Mode.  If you can win at least three matches, you’ll usually get a better deal than buying just one so-called “expert pack”.  The buy-in for Arena is currently 150 gold whereas a card pack costs 100 gold, both around or under $2 USD.  To put this into perspective, you can earn around 300 gold daily in a reasonable amount of time without it feeling like a total grind.

Hearthstone - Arena Mode - 10 Key Levels

Arena is essentially a survival mode where you duel random players until you lose three times.  You can have these matches at your leisure and retire whenever.  Each run can last up to a maximum of ten wins, as you can see by the keys in the image above.  Realistically, you can expect to win two matches at most when you are just starting off.  To date, I have only won about four matches at most on Arena and I am a fairly competent player.

Overall, I think Hearthstone is great right now and will only get better.  This is one of those games I want to play with my friends and our Geeky Antics community.  I have no reservations recommending this game but I do hope this mini guide helps you get started the right way.   Give it a try and look us up.  We’d love to play with you!