Categories
Games

The Mudsdales Go Marching In

My new favorite past-time is playing Pokémon TCG with my son. His encyclopedic knowledge of Pokémon is pretty impressive. It translates pretty well to the card game, even if there are some inconsistencies with the lore vs. the balance of the game.

Because I am a game nerd, and a former MtG player myself, I also like looking at deck ideas and coming up with strategies and themes. Most of the time, they exploit obvious mechanics, some better than others. I’m also on a kind of strict budget. My wife would kill me if we spent hundreds of dollars on cards.

So, what’s a guy to do? Budget decks!

Honestly, these sort of category is one of my favorite types of deck building. It requires creativity, knowledge of game mechanics and card functionality budgeting to ensure your deck plays well. It also reminds me of the “White Weenie” decks of the past (basically: a bunch of small creatures that either, en mass or with powerful stacking buffs becomes a powerhouse).

So, on to my recent purchase! Here’s the blog article I read that got me started:

The article I got the deck idea from.

The basic premise of this deck is to cycle through your deck with search cards like “Nest Ball” and “Lady” to pull Mudsdale and some energies out. This allows you to get a heavy hitter out decently early. Additionally, since you’ve only got a stage 1 out, you’re not going to give your opponent two prize cards should he get momentum faster than you.

The deck comes out to be about $16.82, which is just shy of one of those starter decks and significantly better tuned. It has the ability to be adapted with the removal of “Cutiefly/Ribombee” with something that has faster or more consistent energy retrieval. You can also better defenses or a “Rescue Stretcher” to keep the “Mudsdales” cycling in if you have to rely on their second attack a lot.

I can’t wait to try it with my son. The “Pikachu/Raichu GX” deck I pieced together, and have been playing, on my own seems to be very draw dependent and can struggle if energy doesn’t come in quick enough. I’ll post that one later.

Any budget decks I’m missing out on? I don’t currently have very many fire-type, metal-type or fariy-type cards, so those decks seem more interesting to me.

Categories
Games

Pokémon

My son has been bitten by the bug. The massive money making, lines around the block, international juggernaut that is Pokémon. He has a book with all of the current pocket monsters names, stats, pictures, regions and more in it. Right now, he is a walking, talking Pokédex.

To that end, he was introduced to the card game through other kids at school. This was kind of exciting, because I was a huge Magic: The Gathering kid, and TCG’s are my jam. So, I started he and I out on some pre-constructed starter decks from Target/Amazon. Now he’s hooked.

Normally, I wouldn’t be excited to get my son into something this potentially expensive. There are, obviously, much cheaper games to play and ones that don’t have the same far reaching marketing machinations. However, this is something that we’re actually bonding over. I get to teach him how to play, how to think strategically and about deck building. Stuff I had to learn on my own. He also gets access to all the various accessories I’ve accumulated over the years. Things like card sleeves, boxes, carriers, etc.

Typically, I’d say that Pokémon is a game that is far too basic for someone who played Magic so heavily in his early years. However, it has some level of charm. The game is simplified and often doesn’t take quite as long as an average Magic game. There are also a really simplified set of mechanics that don’t require understanding how “the stack” works. Overall it’s just very fluid. While I generally prefer my games to be a bit more crunchy, I still find myself seeking him out to play a game before dinner or in our spare time.

Spending time with kids was something difficult for me to understand as an adult. Communication is often my biggest issue as I don’t typically understand how they’re processing the world. This game has helped me by focusing our interactions into something we can both understand and agree on, while having fun.

So, yeah. I guess Pokémon has helped me bond with my son. A sentence I never thought I’d write.

Categories
Computers Games

End of an Era

I got rid of my Linux gaming workstation the other day. The ~10 year old machine had served me well, especially considering it had cost me less than $1000 when I built it. Additionally, I only put minor upgrades into it. A generally unneeded extra 8gb of RAM and a sorely needed Nvidia 1060 6gb graphics card. The decision didn’t come lightly. I have been a gamer on some level for most of my life. I’m moving on from that, generally, now.

The decision to stop playing PC games was not one I wanted to make, but it was somewhat forced on me. As I grow older, I’m loosing out on time to more important tasks. I have schooling I’m trying to focus on, and I have a job, family and other responsibilities that I can’t ignore. Couple that with the fact that I don’t really need multiple gaming systems dividing my attention for entertainment, and that I just got a laptop that more than covers my mundane needs. I made a choice to remove excess.

Right now, I’m siting here, looking at all there is left of that system. A stack of Corsair RAM, several HDDs/SSDs and the 1060. I can’t help but wonder if it was the right decision to make. I’ll miss out on Doom: Eternal and probably the PC port of Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne. I find that I don’t care, though. I’m well enough entertained and the future is bright as far as the Switch, 2DS and iOS gaming goes. Maybe when I retire I’ll build myself a gnarly-ass rig and go all out — I doubt it, but it’s a nice thought.

Here’s to you, old PC, you got me through more than my fair share of downtime.

Categories
Games

DDLC

Warning: The game I’m about to talk about is not for minors, people who aren’t up for handling intense themes or really bothered by suicide and self-harm.


Doki-Doki Literature Club (henceforth “DDLC”) is a “visual novel” game that appears, at first, to be another game following the “Dating Sim” trope. Released in 2017, it has been a cult hit and free-to-play. That all being said: It is not a dating sim game, it’s cleverly packaged computer/horror.

Suffice it to say, if you’re not into it, you can read a summary of the game and the various acts it goes through on this wiki, or watch any of the playthroughs on YouTube. Honestly, you’re not missing much “gameplay” by doing so. I will be discussing spoiler like material, so if you want to play blind, read no further. Otherwise, it’s a almost three-year old game, get over it.

One of the biggest shocks, and painful moments of the game (and there are many) is the death of Sayori. While I’m sure not everyone who plays the game is sympathetic to every character, I identified with her especially.

You see, Sayori is depressed. Deeply so. She hides it behind a carefully designed mask of cheerful aloofness. This throws people off, even if she lets the mask slip (on purpose, or by accident). Her behavior of sleeping in, clumsiness and desire for others to be happy is a really clever cover and one that I identify with. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to see through it. As the kids say: Game recognizes game.

DDLC even goes so far as to drag you into a false sense of relief as you “end” her segment of the game, making you believe that, while not better, things are on the up-and-up. Only to throw it back in your face. I know I was warned. Still, I felt it.

Obviously the game begins to slide right off the rails into surreal horror/computer spookiness, subtexted by realistic people issues. The Yuri character enjoys self harm, which is something people suffer with every day. Natsuki is the child of abuse and neglect and offers up a tough front because of it. All of these characters are sympathetic and probably why the game is so popular. Additionally, the developer did some neat behind the scenes stuff with files in the game directory.

Overall, I really enjoyed the relatively short play through. It’s packaged as a type of game that I’d normally avoid, on principal, but recommendations and mild spoilers directed me otherwise. If you’re not bothered by some of the material in the game, then you’re in for a treat. It’s got more depth than it has any right to, and delivers real emotional stuff in a genre rife with the direct opposite.

The best part is that the game is free to download and play. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux and if you’re so inclined, the developer has some extra special stuff in the $10 DLC.

Categories
Games

Humble Bundle

A long time ago, I used to be a Mac guy. Because of that, I participated in several app bundle stores in order to get great deals on the (relatively) expensive Mac apps. All of these discount stories have gone the way of the Dodo. I even still have some licenses hanging around that reference them.

It seemed like these sort of discount stores were a thing of the past, and for many years that was the case. Until Humble Bundle showed up and started giving great discounts on collections of games. At first they were just indie titles. The shtick was that in addition to the games, you could gift part (or all) of the sale to the charity that was being represented, and that these games would be DRM-free, allowing you to play them whenever and wherever you could get them to run.

Eventually, they expanded to include digital books, comic books, desktop applications, mobile games, and more. Additionally, they now operate a proper storefront and host a monthly quasi-mystery box program where you get a collection of games for a small monthly fee of $12.

While the DRM thing didn’t quite last, they were soon purchased by publishing giant IGN, which cooled a lot of their public goodwill. Soon, though, people forgot about it, as Humble Bundle was being run as a subsidiary and generally untouched by their parent organization.

It’s nice to see a model for discounted and bundled offerings that doesn’t undercut their users by offering them low-value shovelware or being predatory with offers and upsells. The price is the price and you can adjust how much of each component goes where. This honest transparency is nice to see and goes a long way in making sure customers feel comfortable paying.

I’ll continue using their service as long as they keep up-front about their deals, give great options and provide great customer service. Not an easy act to balance, but one that keeps me coming back to check out whatever it is they’re selling.