Man, I don't know what to think of Gwent: Homecoming (which is what they're calling the full release patch - it's out of beta now!).
Like, it's so different! And it makes me wonder: what was the point of patching and patching and patching that beta, re-re-re-balancing everything so many times, if for the final game they were just going to basically wipe the slate clean and start from scratch? I barely recognize the game, and not just because of the improved graphics and UI (which is pretty sweet - the new 4-lane board looks awesome, and the amazing artwork is on full display, as big as possible). Every single card is completely different now, and there are lots of new rules and card abilities. It's actually a little closer to Hearthstone now in a few small ways. Many cards can attack every turn or so, and you can only have 10 cards in your hand at once, much like in HS. The "2 out of 3 rounds" victory condition is still here, but they've tried to fix the coin toss issue - the player who goes second now has a "tactical advantage" card on the board to buff a unit by 6 or something. Silver quality cards are gone - everything is either Gold or Bronze now, and each card has a "resources" cost, with your deck having a maximum amount of resources. Your leader card is represented by a fully 3D little dude standing off to the side, and they can usually use their hero power more than once (again, closer to Hearthstone).
I was prepared to have my collection wiped, but I was still surprised they did it, since the beta had plenty of real-money purchase options, and who knows how much dough some players spent. I had almost every single card before I lost everything, but they did give me a LOT of scraps to rebuild with - any card I need, I should be able to craft for a long time in the future. Which is good, because I can't seem to make a good deck to save my life! I'm sucking hard at this game right now, and there are no good websites to netdeck anymore, since GwentDB decided to close its doors. Every player I run against seems to have the perfect strategy all laid out, even at my low rank. And here I am fumbling to understand the new system, making mistakes and completely screwing myself over, often by round 2.
Honestly, I think my favorite iteration of Gwent was the patch that added the Create function, even though that was very unpopular at the time because it added so much RNG factor. But the game needs a little bit of randomness! I don't think they should go full Hearthstone, but it's occasionally fun to simply get lucky. Plus I had an amazing elves deck at the time that was really fun. I think I'll have more fun in nuGwent once I get a really nice Scoia'tael tactic laid out...
As for Thronebreaker, it's really good so far. I probably should play through it completely before I go back to regular Gwent, since I've already unlocked a couple Gwent cards with it. The gameplay of Thronebreaker reminds me a lot of Banner Saga (I still need to finish the sequels to that...) except less linear. You control Queen Meve of Lyria and Rivia, as she seeks to bring law and order back to her kingdom after leaving it in the hands of her young and inexperienced son while she was away for a time. You walk around the overland map, gather resources, spend them on cards and upgrades in your camp, make choices in dialogue screens, and play through a story in the Witcher universe. It's really neat so far, and I've barely scratched the surface. I'm still not a fan of "puzzle" challenges though, which every card game seems to have in their single player portions - where they give you a pre-determined deck and challenge you to find just the right solution to a board. They're kinda fun when you solve them, but they can be kind of frustrating and I would really rather just play the normal game with my own deck.
I can already tell there will be some fun and interesting twists ahead in the Thronebreaker story, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. Nobody spoil it for me!
Pretty sad day - Red Bean's swords and armor were the first third-party minifig accessories I ever bought - some of the first ones out there. He designed them with clay - clay! - not computers. It would be great if someone else kept making them, somehow. Armothe had some really inventive ideas too. But all things must end.
I wish he had some Neck Armor I could completely buy out... but he hasn't had any of that in stock for months and months. I'll probably scoop up a bunch of other stuff though, and make some minifigs for the shop with some of it.
Ocelot, reading you completely trash a crappy game that I also played never gets old. I can relate so much with all of it. I especially liked this paragraph:
None of your squad can die. They're all added to your party automatically so you can't miss them. They won't argue with eachother. They'll all idolise you no matter what you say or do. You can't actually say anything to anyone that might upset them anyway; you're literally just choosing the tone in which to express the specific sentiment Bioware has laid out for you at any given juncture. It's like the sexless, bland cast of some middling sitcom, where each one has their own single characteristic that is mined for jokes (*canned laughter every time Drack mentions how old he is*), and there's no issue so serious that it can't be solved before the credits roll. Remember when Mass Effect 1 had you get to know Saren before he turned on you, and you could talk him out of a phase of the final bossfight? Remember the conversation with Sovereign on Virmire where you got a glimpse at the real menace and never once said a meme at him? Back when Mass Effect was an RPG? Here Ryder mainly talks to the Archon in non-interactive cutscenes, and he has all the pathos and nuance of a bad Power Rangers villain, complete with the dumb outfit. He has this loop of bone on his skull that looks so much like a basketball hoop that I spent every moment he was on screen imagining dunking on him and then hanging off his head rim. Weirdly enough his gross, four-nostrilled alien mug actually has the best facial animation in the game, but it's wasted on a villain about as memorable as that guy from the Justice League movie.
I have nothing to add - I'm just quoting it to read it again.
It really is almost impressive how singularly bland they managed to make Mass Effect Andromeda. It pitches itself as "play as a bold explorer instead of a soldier, who risks everything to venture into the great unknown - an entirely new galaxy across the gulf of space!" ... but then it's literally just the same Mass Effect stuff all over again. We don't venture to completely uncharted regions like Star Trek or something; we're just fighting another epic war against another ancient evil in another galaxy populated by surprisingly humanoid aliens with technology stunningly compatible with our own - and with humans and other ME races already scattered around everywhere, like they've been living here all along. It feels like the devs were under strict instructions to simply make a poor man's reboot of the Mass Effect universe rather than try to do anything new or exciting. Unless you count "make everyone a meme-spouting young person so we can't take anything very seriously" as new and exciting.
Anyway, I've been playing a few different games, including AC: Odyssey. It's fun so far, avoiding most of the things I disliked about other AC games, and boy, ancient Greece is beautiful. The naval stuff is awesome - I can see why everyone liked Black Flag. Makes me want to go back and play that one, and try Origins too. Maybe...
But I wanted to complain a bit about World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. It's pretty disappointing in comparison to the previous expansion pack, Legion. Legion was PACKED with content. The Broken Isles were huge, with a wide variety of landscapes, and there was so much to do! Each class had a unique storyline of their own, with 3 different artifact weapons to pursue and unlock skins for, plus lots of unique armor sets, there were quests for every profession, lots of secrets and Easter eggs, and a bunch of the content had you venturing back to the lands of old expansions. Plus, demon hunters are awesome and the story was one we had been waiting for forever - the final defeat of the Burning Legion. Heck, I'd go as far as to say Legion might be my favorite of all the WoW expansions, despite my nostalgia for Wrath of the Lich King.
By comparison, BfA feels so small it almost seems like a major content patch that they expanded into a "game" to make some extra bucks. The Argus patch for Legion was at least half as big. Sure, the two islands BfA gives us are pretty huge, and there's a decent amount of variety to be found (much more on Horde than Alliance), and the story is fairly interesting so far (more on Alliance than Horde), but the class stories are gone (just faction stories instead), the artifact weapons are gone (this time we all get... a necklace), there are fewer profession quests and secret content, and they even gave up on having unique armor for each class - for the first time EVER, this tier only has separate sets for each armor type (plate, mail, leather, and cloth). And it feels Blizzard redirected some of the budget, since pretty much every quest in Legion was almost fully voiced, while the War Campaigns of BfA - a BIG part of their content - are eerily silent and feel unfinished. The Warfronts are a fun new feature, but they would be a lot more fun if they had a real PVP mode instead of being the same group scenario over and over again, especially in an expansion that emphasizes the war between factions yet only added a single new PVP battleground.
Here's hoping the upcoming major content patches really expand things. The first one's supposed to be coming soon, but it sure feels like it's taking a while...
Thanks, guys! Glad you like 'em! Especially glad you like the commission, Nightstalker!
Gotta say Scorp, unless you do some more art Manghild and Valkyrie are probably going to be my favorites from your Inktober this year. I didn't think that Manghild would actually wear Guntram's helmet, but I think she wears it very nicely.
So far the one I've put the most work into is probably Magnhild. It's hard to say though. I've spent more time on almost all of them than I'd planned when starting, haha. The gnome was the quickest.
Gonna try to get a few more days in before the month is over, so here's another!: