Thursday, 25 June 2020

MTGA: Core set 21 out on Arena today.

Magic the Gathering Core Set 21 launched today and I'm halfway through my first draft. I drafted Black/Red in the first pack but I got a Baneslayer Angel in pack 2 pick 1 so I pivoted. As a result I'm a little creature light.

In the first game I got punished for this, barely seeing a single creature as my opponent ran over me.

The next two games I won with powerful high end creatures doing particularly well. (Although as so often seems to be the case when you get a bomb Mythic Rare I have yet to see it). The expensive but Common 7 mana Gloom Sower has done the job for me twice.

I think Core sets are innately less attractive than the other sets because they miss a theme, a story, such as the delightful faerie tale themed Throne of Eldraine and because they reprint a lot of rather dull cards. This is because it's aimed to be more accessible so simpler and/or familiar cards make the game easier for new or casual players. I can see why they do it, I'm just not the target audience for a dumbed down blander offering.

That said it remains a game of deep strategy and I'm very satisfied that I made no error in the game I lost and won games 2 and 3 by making better decisions than my opponents.

Many Magic players, even some reasonably good streamers don't evaluate combat well. They will attack with a good creature into two medium creatures of which they get to kill one. That's not a good decision, it's probably better to be patient. In the last game in particular I was able to use an equipment and good defensive double blocking to whittle down a far superior army of creatures from the other side then turn the game around once I could play my 7 mana big monster.

I'm expecting to be deeply absorbed in Magic Arena for the next couple of weeks as the period just after a launch is very fun for relatively competitive players.

Rabbit season!

Saturday, 13 June 2020

ESO: Daily routine

Elder Scrolls Online rewards a well-organised daily routine which I'm finding quite an enjoyable way to pass time during coronavirus isolation.

1) Daily reward. This is a freebie and since when it hasn't been claimed yet the screen to claim it pops up it's no more work to accept it than to click and close the window. Even in terms of time it's free.

And the rewards are good. For May there's a total of

6 Crown experience scrolls
1 Grand Gold Coast experience scroll
12 Crown refreshing drinks
12 Crown fortifying meals
300 various poisons
60 various potions.
10 Crown mimic stones (allowing you to do 10 master writs without having the motifs)
4 various instant all research (knocking 19 days off if you can use them maximally)
10 Crown repair kit
10 Crown soul gem
20000 gold
Cosmetic item (pet).

These rewards are so good it's worth considering making an extra account or two for c£14 as a one-off payment at which point it does become a minor timesink to log over to the second account and collect free stuff. I decided to make one account and I'll talk more about that in a later blog post.

2) Upgrading mount skills

Quite tedious, you can learn 1 point every 20 hours up to a max of 60. +60% mount speed is pretty important. I guess in a way you get the time back as you play simply by not moving slowly. It takes me about 20 minutes to upgrade 11 characters across 2 accounts if they're all waiting at the stables.

3) Research

Researching traits is essential for a serious crafter and a nice extra on other characters who might need to respec traits at some point.

4) Crafting writs.

Crafting writs pay gold, resources, some deconstructable items, useful trait and improvement materials, treasure maps to more resources, recipes, junk glyphs,  and inspiration (crafting exp).

5) Open mail

6) Restock guild stores. I usually sell across 1-2 guild stores plus my casual guild's store if we have one up. You have to cancel orders that aren't selling and put up different stuff to make sure you hit that guild's minimum sales volume or else they'll kick you. Being kicked doesn't matter much as you can just join another trade guild (or perhaps even the same one). If you're serious about being a goblin then you'll probably focus on materials, highly used potions and foods and highly prized gold or mythic items. The cottage industry nature of ESO's economy doesn't really reward being a goblin as far as I can see so far - there simply aren't enough eyeballs on the items you're selling.

7) Inventory management. This is a major part of the game and sometimes you just have to wade through all the junk you've picked up and dispose of it in the most constructive way possible. It's good to combine this with mail and decon.

8) Deconstruction. As I play I fill up my bank with weapons armour rings and glyphs that will get disenchanted. I often combine this with my morning writs/mail and store management to set me up for a well-otganised day.

9) Daily random dungeons.

Big fat experience bonus for the first random dungeon on each character. This is my main way of levelling alts. Just log in, get their dungeon done, log out.

10) Daily battlegrounds.

These are tedious unless you're really good at pvp. So far as a newbie I've been a drag on any team unlucky enough to get me which means I quite often am on the team that comes third and misses the rewards. It's just not a good experience to get massacred and then miss out on the reward. This one usually falls below the bar for me, I tried them out when I started the game but now I don't do them.

11) Daily pledges. A pledge is a quest for group dungeon content. The rewards give you access to chests which hold part of the game's "monster sets" and give you Undaunted rep which is a pretty useful skill tree on every character.

12) Enlightenment. Bonus experience which accumulates daily but stays for 12 days. This doesn't have to be used daily but you do need to use it up every 12 days to avoid waste.

13) Daily repeatable quests. Not currently on my radar as the storyline quests pay better rewards (ie skill points). The main virtue is in collecting rare motifs by doing a lot of grinding of these quests. Perhaps the best ones to do are the Cyrodil or Imperial City ones as most players don't like pvp.