Mimicking Monkey Men: Why I didn’t get past my first Overwatch match


It’s not you, Overwatch, it’s me. You taught me something about myself, even if we were only together for half an hour.

I did your tutorial. It taught me extremely basic mechanics that I would have figured out by myself and not much else. But that was ok. I figure, it means that the veterans will be relieved that’s it’s over quickly, and the noobs will not feel left behind. It did misfire and would not let me move on before I had taken out all the target dummies even though there were none left. So I had to restart it but that was ok because, as I said, it’s short. I ended it thinking, those are some very basic mechanics, Overwatch, I wonder how you will teach me your actual game.

I was then gently nudged towards either a real match or a match with bots. I can’t remember which I picked. Somehow your UI confused me and with no previous experience of the game, how do you tell the difference? Avatars monkey about, be they real monkeymen or fake.

We were let loose on a scene and I though, what now? Everbody else jumped, ran and were generally off to the races. I stood still, thinking, pondering, asking questions, not moving. What was the goal, what was I there for? Was there a team or was it all against all? How could I tell the difference? Was it indiscriminate murderizing from the get-go or would there be a signal? Should I start moving? I probably should but why? I stood there for a while. I guess you’re expecting me to tell you that somebody ended my reverie shouting “You think too much, therefore you aren’t” before blasting me in the face. In reality, everybody else were much too busy and away and I quietly saw myself out.

You didn’t give me an answer to my questions, Overwatch, and I think I know the reason. Aping. You want me to learn this game by aping the other players. They jump about, I jump about. They shoot, I shoot. I won’t quite know why or how at first but I’ll figure it out as I go. For now, I should just do what everybody else is doing.

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In defense of Captain Blackheart’s Treasure


I just got my 30th win in this week’s Hearthstone tavern brawl, a repeat of Captain Blackheart’s Treasure. That’s a lot of games in a game mode that is widely derided as being mere box opening, i.e. RNG for RNG’s sake. So why bother with it to that extent? Is my curiosity for the insides of boxes really that insatiable?

The easy explanation is of course that everybody likes to win and my win rate in this week’s tavern brawl has been ridiculous, tending towards 80%. Which is easily explained by three im-not-a-genius factors, i.e. 1) like in Arena, mage is by far and away the queen of this format but most people use the brawl to clear out dailies for other classes, 2) unconstructed brawls tend to attract more beginners, 3) I played so much that I began to know what cards I could expect to choose from.

However, I think there’s more to it than that. Captain Blackheart’s Treasure requires tactics and forethought but adds – at least for a while – more fun and creativity to the mix.

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Delivery or Deliverance


I have just requested a refund for my 2013 Kickstarter contribution to the development of Kingdom Come: Deliverance from the Czech developer Warhorse Studios. I’m conflicted in doing so but I think it’s the right thing. Here’s my reasoning.

Warhorse promised support for Windows, linux and OS X in the Kickstarter but has since failed to put out a linux/OS X beta and failed to meet a self-imposed deadline at E3 for signalling their intentions regarding platforms. That is to say they were supposed to tell backers and the public whether the promised platform support would be abandoned.

Instead Warhorse studios no longer advertise linux/OS X support on the website and their community manager has recently stated that support “might unfortunately not happen on day 1 of release, but we don’t know about any details yet”. Which can be read pretty much any way you want. That support will eventually happen, will happen but be broken as f**k or will not happen at all.

If I were of a more cynical and angry disposition I might make allusions to a scene from the film of the same (sub)title (no, not that one; that one) But I think that would be stretching it. Linux users aren’t getting viciously shafted here even though it feels like we’re up shit creek without a port. Still, I don’t think Warhorse deserves my money anymore.

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Junk Legendaries: When Christmas sucks


As a free-to-play Hearthstone player, getting a legendary is surprise Christmas. You don’t know when it’s gonna come but you know it only comes once a few times a year.

As a seasoned free-to-play Hearthstone player, you are probably also familiar with the big legendaries with a capital L: Sylvanas, Ragnaros, N’Zoth, etc.The ones that whole decks get built around. Like a child imagining Christmas you see yourself cracking open a pack and lo and behold, there’s Tyrion Fordring!

What you’re probably less familiar with unless you scrutinise expansion lists, are the junk legendaries. The Acidmaws, the Captain Greenskins.

The Gruuls. Oh good God, the Gruuls.

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Playing Around Touchy-Feely Stuff or How to Apply Hearthstone Lessons IRL


The dating app conversation started well enough: He said I looked good (I’d paid a good photographer), I said he looked good (he did, from most angles), and soon we were talking about meeting up. More photos were exchanged to mutual satisfaction.

The he told me he was a virgin and asked me if that changed anything. I told him it didn’t and wrote a minor treatise on how I thought it was kind of endearing and we didn’t have to force anything he wasn’t comfortable with and I’d be perfectly fine with just making out if that was the extent of it. Okay, so it was like seven or eight lines but in dating app land that _is_ a treatise. No response and next day I couldn’t see his profile anymore. Missing, presumed blocked.

I didn’t write anything inappropriate or offensive or downright bad. And I’m not even sure it was anything I said that made him block me. Maybe it’s just the modus operandi of someone who’s not out and still a virgin. Cold feet, delete, block, erase. Start over again in a couple of days.

The reason this is on a games blog is because I realised that the only reproach I had for myself felt so much like that sinking feeling of having filled a board with 2-3s as you hand turn 7 over to a mage. You don’t know if your opponent has it but you should probably not play into it. I had overcommitted to the board and this was the dating equivalent of a flamestrike.

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I greet you


Do you greet your opponent in Hearthstone?

As I have climbed the ranks it’s hard not to notice that people who do are fast becoming few and far between. Me, I used to start every matchup with a Greetings and end all with “Well played”. But I get why many players opt out. It’s kinda ritualistic, unpersonal and pointless. And so I too have stopped spamming the button. Still, I have found an occasional use for the greeting.

Get on a bus and observe the driver. Does he or she wave enthusiastically at everybody else on the road? No. Does (s)he tip heris cap at lorry drivers? Nope. They greet their own and only their own and only by the very smallest of gestures. They raise and an index finger slightly from the wheel and nod almost imperceptibly.

I think this is a good fit for Hearthstone. My paladin enjoins other paladins with a hearty “Well met!” and has nothing but silence for shaman (shamen? shemen? shamanni?) whereas it feels entirely in its place for Thrall to call his mirror image “Friend” (I don’t actually know any WoW lore so please feel free to correct me here) Sometime I get an answer, oftentimes I don’t.

Is this a thing? Probably not. I wish it were, though.