Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Lords of War – Shattered Hand and Kargath Bladefist

I always saw Kargath as a lunatic. He was crazy, but he was not anything really special. I mean, the man cut off his arm and replaced it with a blade. And then, he did the same with the second hand as well. One cannot but wonder if he didn't cut off his other arm in his sleep, when he tried to roll over on the other side, or maybe it was a pesky mosquito getting on his nerves. Imagine going to the bathroom, and having two long knives attached to your arms, where hands used to be. The handless, but bladeful orc did not have an easy life up to that point, but this story of Maraad made it possible for us to actually understand who, and what Kargath Bladefist was.

Kargath was either born as slave, or was enslaved as youth. We could speculate, but when you think of it, both options are tragic. As he grew up, he fought in the arena as gladiator. For entertainment of the ogres he was forced to fight other orcs. Life was not easy. And there was a promise of freedom. Kill hundred men, and you are free. I would dare say this makes Kargath at least as skilled as Thrall, if not more. There is the always going to be a debate about which is more skillful, to wound or to kill, but I would go with Kargath on this one.

Unlike Thrall, who escaped from slavery, Kargath sacrificed his own hand to overthrow the ogre slave masters. Mere hand is nothing in comparison with freedom, and yet most would probably think twice before cutting off their hand with a possibly sharp stone. This is the action that made others follow him. They could see he is setting himself as an example. Kargath would never ask of others something he could not, or would not do himself.

And unlike other orcish clans which have strong familial bonds, Shattered Hand has nothing. The only connection they have is their devotion to Kargath. The only thing in common they have is their dissatisfaction with the world. Members of the Shattered Hand clan are all grizzled veterans of life who know no mercy. They will not stop to think about their actions, because from experience they know waiting is what kills you in the end.

Shattered Hand is probably the only orcish clan who has every right to take vengeance on everyone. Even the draenei. Some will say that draenei had nothing to do with the ogres, and they could be right. It is obvious orcs were unable to do much, after all they were slaves. Even the clans could not do much against the ogre empire. It took the institution of Warchief and gathering of all the clans to repel the ogres last time they did it, and there certainly was no warchief around now. On other hand, there were no draenei slaves.

Draenei who settled on the Draenor chose to be the part of this world. They settled on it, and they lived there for quite some time. And all that time they simply watched what went on, deciding not to choose sides, acting only when they saw fit, and it was for their own good. This is far from the noble picture of Draenei we know. It shows draenei as hypocrites. They would fight the demons without pause, but to meddle with their own world, try to bring it to some semblance, that is out of the question. Their reclusiveness is what made the orcs attack them the first time around.

You have this strange tentacled creatures with hooves who live all by themselves in large cities and temples they built. They never fought with you, but they never extended the offer of assistance against other threats either. And now, the spirits are telling your people that draenei plan to eradicate your people. You have faced ogres, and they are just strong and mighty. But here in draenei you have an enemy that has better equipped military, as well as technology on its side. The only thing you have is a surprise attack.

But we need to take Velen in consideration. The old man has visions. He probably knew all about it even before it happened. So why did he let it happen? Was this the necessary evil in order to win the battle against the Burning Legion that would be fought decades later? Maybe. If we look at how draenei reacted when they crashed on Azeroth it could be a real possibility. Draenei on Azeroth did not waste time, they did not stand for themselves like they did on Draenor, they meddled, they became active participants. And that is scary. It is scary because that would mean, that all the lost lives, every single victim orcs killed on their rampage is on Velen's hands, because he knew and did nothing. Well, he did something. He willingly sacrificed all those people in order to win a battle decades later.

But we are getting sidetracked. The original Kargath lived long life of war, and fought for various overlords, generals and warchiefs. He met his end in Hellfire Citadel drunk on the haze of demon blood. He probably never cared much for who he fought as long as there was worthy enemy to fight against. Kargath's legacy in form of Shattered Hand lives on in the Horde though. Under Thrall's command Shattered Hand became Horde's clan of assassins, taking care of all young rogues, making sure they serve the warchief.

Also, Maraad is a lefthander, and Kargath has only one arm left to write with (for now). Can we please choose our main hand already?

#LordsOfWar #Kargath #WoW

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hearthstone: The Construct Quarter

Just one more week and we are back to the "old" "boring" Hearthstone. Now, that is not true, and as the time flies I am coming to realisation that no matter how much fun Naxxramas can be, at the end it is a simple distraction from the regular game. To be honest that is a shame, but then again, there really is no enjoyment to play against AI once you have already beaten it. There is no reason to play on Heroic mode because there is no reward beyond your personal satisfaction, but with the current state of Heroic, the satisfaction is rather minuscule in comparison to the time and effort invested.

This week the last of the four quarters was released, the Construct Quarter. From my days in World of Warcraft I remember this quarter as one of my personal favourites. Mostly because I played Paladin, and had a Divine Shield ready for all the jumps in the green river of poison and ooze that drove healers insane in the time between boss fights. I always loved being the one that took care of his own health. There was a certain pride in not being a bother to your group of healers. Another reason for why I loved Naxxramas is because it was filled with the undead. An army of undead back in the days meant that a Retribution Paladin could really shine as a DPS. We were fighting handicapped against anything that was not undead or demons.

In general though, I am getting the feeling Blizzard is betting too much on the nostalgia these days. That is seen in next World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, as much s in Hearthstone, and still in alpha Heroes of the Storm. They are spending too much reminiscing how much fun the good old days were. They should spend more time creating something new, rather than poking the long dead beast in hopes it will come to life if they only believe in it. Again, their problem. Now let us get to this week's bosses on Normal, Heroic and Class Challenges.

This week's Normal bosses did not make things difficult. All four fell under the might of my good old Paladin deck. I love that deck, and that it was able to take care of all four bosses without trouble means a lot to me. The Class Challenges were once again a bit of a pang, reminding me that the Paladin card will be the last one to unlock. On the other hand, heroes are supposed to come late, and coming to the party last, and facing Kel'thuzad indicates the hero status of Paladins. I can live with that.

Once again, Warrior and Priest fights were both easy enough. Fun and entertaining fights, and this is probably the only aspect of Naxxramas I find myself facing ever again after I beat it completely. One more detail. In Warcraft lore, Paladins came to be from Warriors who wanted to heal, and Priests who wanted to fight with soldiers wearing heavy armour. Another hint on the coming of the Paladins next week? Maybe. I will let you decide.

As for the Heroics, this is the first week after the Arachnid that I managed to clear it fast enough before I lost all will and interest for various reasons. Last couple of bosses from Plague and Military quarter could tell a few tales about that. I decided not to muck about and just used the premade decks from hearthpwn. I used Druid for Patchwerk, Priest for Grobbulus, Mage for Gluth, and Warlock for Thaddius. Honestly, it all lies in the timing. If you manage to destroy Patchwerk's, and Gluth's weapons at the right times victory is almost guaranteed. If you have, throw in Harrison Ford, it will be of great help. With Thaddius, your aim should be getting rid of his two helpers, and with Grobbulus it is just about outliving him.

The fights are entertaining, and reminiscent of the old raid fights in World of Warcraft, but I am really afraid that on their own they have nothing to offer. For every fight you need a specific deck built around specific idea. This is not why I play card games. Can you imagine playing poker by insisting to play three deuces all the time and calling all other hands insignificant? To anyone who ever played any card game, that will not be fun, it will be frustrating because it means throwing away so much other possibilities for something that might not happen. And when you play cards, it is about adapting to the situation you have, not the scenario you want it to be.

Well, less than a week, and I will have my Paladin card, and maybe finished Heroic bosses. If I find the will to revisit Military and Plague Quarters.

#Hearthstone #Construct #Naxxramas

Friday, 15 August 2014

Warlords Cinematic, Release Date, and Lefthander Maraad

After all was said and done, we have not learnt much about the Warlords of Draenor on the first day of Gamescom. Nothing really new. Most of it was only recapping what we already knew from Blizzcon without mentioning anything they cut until now. We got to see the cinematic, and could witness the first part of what seems to be an interesting animated series titled Lords of War. I will write about it as it goes on, but aside from that not much actual information. The game will be released on November 13th. This might go very wrong when we take in consideration that 10th anniversary is only a week or so after the release.

Maybe it is just the general disillusionment, but I feel this is their weakest cinematic to date for what concerns World of Warcraft. There is just too much of everything. It wants to be as cinematic as Cataclysm, as deep as Wrath of the Lich King, and as dynamic as Mists of Pandaria. It is too much of everything. And this is why it falls short. They should have decided for one approach, not trying to mash all three different things together and hoping something great would come out. Maybe that is the general impression of Warlords of Draenor as well. Trying to be something that is not. Betting on nostalgia is in my opinion a bad move on the long term.

I mean, something is seriously wrong when Garrosh is able to steal the show by just being Garrosh. That just sounds wrong. Garrosh is being the Garrosh presented in War Crimes, not the douche we had to deal with for more than two years. You know, Garrosh from the books actually has a personality, and is quite charismatic on top of that. Another pet peeve of mine is how they made Grom. Grom was always described as lean, tall, and slender. He was not feared because of his physical prowess. Yes, he was a capable fighter, but it was not the size of his muscles that made him feared even among his own race.

Grom was the devil's incarnate. He was charismatic, his scream could pierce the hearts of his enemies, his skill was close to unrivalled. There were other capable warriors among the orcs, and yet Grom stood out among the best of the best. Because of his personality. It was not flowers and sunshines with Grom, but he was not just a mountain of muscles that did what others told him to. He was ready to sacrifice all for more power, and he was conscious of how high that sacrifice would be. If somebody ever deceived Grom, it was Grom himself.

He was not the calculating mastermind like Gul'dan. No, our good old Grom was genuinly crazy. A sociopath, lunatic, or maniac are just words. They do not even come close to the true extent of what Grom was. In the cinematic though, Grom is just another orcish brute, a neanderthal ready to crack skulls and fight wars. Nothing even close to charismatic about him. Even his presence appears like a show with which he holds other at a distance instead of something that would inspire awe, fear, and respect.

I will discuss Lords of War in the following weeks. Let me just say one thing. Maraad is a LEFTHANDER! Why cannot we be lefthanders in the game? You don't believe me? Take a look at the picture. You still doubt me? Take another look at this video. And before someone tells me I am mistaken, Maraad is a Paladin. That means only things he can hold in his OFF HAND are shields and off-hand items.

In general, I expected the release in November. What I did not expect, especially after the announcement of all that would transpire for the 10th anniversary is that they would release the game just before. It seems like they want people to rush to max level. It does not really affect me in any way. I said it before, I am buying Warlords of Draenor only when new blood elf models, Tanaan, and flying will be in the game. Without that, the expansion might be the greatest there is, but it is not worth the price increase at least in my opinion. Others might disagree.

#WoW #LordsOfWar #WarlordsOfDraenor

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Free Character Recustomisation is a Necessity

With the next expansion we are finally getting new character models. And while we are getting them, Blizzard is trying really hard to convince us, they are making the new models because we wanted them, not because the game is already ten years old and dictates some firm upgrades regarding the player's characters.

Let me set things straight. We, the players want for many things. We want them to nerf mages, buff paladins, I want them to allow me to wield my greatsword in my left hand, and I want new blood elf models available at release. Guess how many of those wishes and wants is Blizzard going to adhere to? None. Why not? Because they do not have the resources. We will leave the blood elves for some other time, it is not like the next expansion will be out by the end of the next month.

It should not come as surprise that what Blizzard does, it does for its own good, and what the playerbase wants rarely plays any role in this. That would be a lie. What playerbase wants does play a significant role, but only when it coincides with the interests of the company. If they were certain they would gain million new players just by giving us option to be left handed, then they would suddenly find the resources to do it. Until something like that is not a guarantee, or it does not at least slow down the perpetual leak of burnt out and disappointed, they will not do it.

Now that we established how Blizzard does business, we can focus at the question at hand. Why do we need a free character recustomisation? Why is it a necessity? And why do we feel entitled to one? Those are all valid questions that demand an honest and valid answer, and I plan to provide one.

Some people might disagree with me. They might even say that we do not need a free character recustomisation because we are already getting the new models. This is circular reasoning. A logical fallacy, and simply because of that already invalid argument, but let us go on. Let us show why this reasoning does not work. I do not want a free character recustomisation because I am not happy with the current look of my character. I want a free character recustomisation because it became obvious that the new models will not be the same as the old. They might fit, but they will not be the same. And because of that, the new face that will come with the new models will never be the same as the one I chose myself.

Some people will still disagree, and say that if we do not like the new models, we can still stick to the old ones. That, I can say is a low blow, and a shortcut for Blizzard we as the community should not be endorsing. After all this is not Blizzard's practise when all other changes to the game were concerned. Good couple of examples would be Talent changes and Cataclysm. Every time they made an overhaul of our talent trees, we never got the option to stick with the old because we do not like the new. It was in the best interest of the game that we all embrace the new talent trees. To cope with change, we got a free talent reset. We did not have to spend any gold for something Blizzard themselves decided to change. And they did this in each expansion as far as my memory goes.

Same with Cataclysm. No matter how much more we loved the old world, how much we wanted for Cataclysm to just go away, we are stuck with it. We do not get to choose, because in Blizzard's opinion once again, this is the best for the game. And I am not going to applaud them for being noble, and finally letting us choose, when there is no real choice. You have three options. Suck it up, pay for character recustomisation because you do not like the new look Blizzard forced upon you, or suffer through and continue to play with the old models. Choices come down to live with it, or pay for it. That is no choice, that is bullying.

Imagine the scenario where instead of character creation when you started to play the game, the game decided instead of you what your character should look like. And the only options you would have was to accept the look, or not play at all. That is not a choice, and Blizzard needs to realise that while it is their game, it is us who play our characters. If they can give a regular face-lift to all their beloved characters on our account, we should at least get the same treatment for our characters.

This is not the case of giving an inch and taking a mile. I am not asking for impossible here. I am asking for what should be, and is in my book rightfully ours to begin with. It is shameful of Blizzard that we must even discuss this after they continue their silent treatment of the topic. This should be openly stated, even other games that updated their models had the same policy, providing the free character recustomisation to their players.

Free character recustomisation is a necessity because no matter how much they try, the characters affected with it will end up being different characters. And if anything can really drive people away from the game, it is the loss of your character, when you start feeling that your character is not yours any more. Not what you played all those years. Not what you created all those years ago. I understand there are people that merrily use the service of character recustomisation because they do not like the look of their characters anymore. And I understand why Blizzard is charging them. After all, it is not Blizzard who is fickle in that scenario, all the blame lies on the player, thus it is sensible to charge the player for the service provided.

This is not the luxury we have with the new models. We are not fickle and indecisive. We actually like the current look of our characters. Yes, we would want the new models, but not at the cost of sacrificing what we came to recognise as our own. And keeping the old models is just a cop-out for Blizzard.

The latest showing of troll models is a perfect example of what I am preaching here. The differences between the old and new models might appear slight, but when expected up close they are enormous. The old troll face had a goofy feeling to it. The new face is simply vicious, predatory, and savage. While this might be more in tune with what the developers always wished for trolls, this might not be what the players who chose that old face wanted from their troll.

I will be the first to agree that even if free character recustomisation is a necessity, it also needs to be limited. It needs to be limiting in order to serve its true purpose, and avoid the chance of it being abused by the players. After all, we are arguing in favour of one free character recustomisation per character, on the basis it would change our original look without our consent. Our aim is not to change race, gender, or name. Just to update the look of our character to reflect our decisions, and not those arbitrarily made by the game itself.

#NewModels #FreeCharacterRecustomisation #WoW

Monday, 11 August 2014

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, And Basic Standards on PC

Some time ago I purchased Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I have been meaning to do so for some time, and Steam Summer Sale proved to be a perfect opportunity, considering I bought it with the money I earned from selling all those silly cards I would never have any use for myself. I call it my way of being prudent. Now, I could be writing hymns to the greatness of the game, singing praises to the idea of telling the story through the game's mechanics, but instead I will use Brothers as a cautionary tale about what should be considered a basic standard on PC.

Unlike some other people, I do not demand perfection, I do not seek excellence if the game was designed with a controller in mind and then ported to PC. I understand that if you bring an old locomotive to the new tracks, that will not make the old locomotive go any faster. I do expect of the locomotive to pull its weight when the tracks fit. What I demand of the game on PC is that if it supports the keyboard, and that it functions with that said keyboard as intended. I know, mindblowing. I will not tolerate a broken game, and I will not be forgiving when I encounter a game that is unplayable because somebody did not bother to check all the controls twice.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

10 Years 10 Questions

World of Warcraft has been on the scene for quite some time now. This November will mark the tenth anniversary of the game. Tenth anniversary that can boast, that after all this time, the game still has close to seven million people subscribed. That is a worthy boast in my opinion, even if I do hope on a regular basis that somebody will come out of the woodwork, and force Blizzard to stop mucking around. Until that day comes, we have ten questions Alternative Chat wants us to answer. If you head over to her blog post, you will find further instructions of how you can take part in this. Seriously, it is easy and entertaining, and who does not like nostalgia? So why don't we just start then?

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
I played Warcraft III and Frozen Throne. I loved it. At first I had difficulty accepting that the orcs were green, eyes of the elves glowed, and that dwarves were using guns, but the concept eventually grew on me. In those two games there were so many memorable moments, like Uther's speech of what makes a Paladin, Arthas's murder of his father, Grom taking on the Cenarius, Thrall and Grom facing Mannoroth, Muradin warning Arthas about the cursed sword for the last time, Garithos's betrayal of the Blood Elves, Arthas's ascension to the Frozen Throne, Sylvanas and her quest for vengeance. I wanted to experience this wonderful world from my own perspective, not through the eyes of the heroes, but as one of the heroes. As one of those nameless soldiers that always stood by their side, and did their job without really getting any of the credit for it.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Hearthstone: The Military Quarter

Another week, another wing of Naxxramas released. It might be too soon to say, but only two more and we will be back to same old same old. In spite of being as pricey as front seat in hell, wings of Naxxramas every week provide us with a distraction from our regular routine. And even though I know that once I finish all the heroic bosses I will not even try to do it again, I will miss new challenges coming at our doorstep every week. It provides us with a different pace of the game, even though I curse at Kel'Thuzad for having only nine deck slots available.

If anything really bothered me from the start with the Military Quarter it is the obvious lack of respect for elders. You see, I have a problem with Baron Rivendare leading the Four Horsemen. He is the Junior. He joined last. He is the replacement for late Alexandros Mograine. And while that does not mean much to those new to Warcraft story, I do have a problem with new guy taking the leadership position of the Four Horsemen. I think the First Horseman, Second, or even the Fourth Horsemen deserve this position much more than Rivendare. There's also the old dispute between Rivendare and me, and his stubbornness of refusing to part with his mount when I won our little duel, for more times than I care to admit. I'll get it one day Rivendare, and then I will let it rot in my stables just to spite you.

It is a skeletal horse, what else can I do with it? It is not like I can bury it...