Keyforge Pre-release Event at Sapphire City

Today Sapphire City Board Game Parlor in North Canton (map) held a pre-release event for Fantasy Flight‘s upcoming game KeyForge designed by Richard Garfield, creator of Magic the Gathering.

Fist, I got to commend how nice Sapphire City is. It’s the first board game parlor I’ve been to, and it is a really nice place. Good parking, nice play space. There’s a large library and large retail selection.

We didn’t get to try any of the sandwiches or other food items beyond a cookie and a coffee so can’t comment on the food. The owner was super friendly, and it seemed like a nice crowd. If you are in the North Canton area, I’d highly recommend stopping by and checking them out.

The game itself was really fun. Unlike most card games like this, there is no deck building, what you get in the box is your deck. You can’t mix cards from one deck to another. And each deck is highly unique from any other deck. No two decks will ever be the same. There are 7 factions, each deck will contain 3 of them. A computer algorithm assures that most decks are within a certain level of one another and makes sure the cards will synergize well.  What works for one deck might not work with another. There are build in systems, a mechanic called chains that is beyond this quick post, that help level decks out if a certain deck is overpowered compared to another deck.

I won’t go into full detail in this post, but leave it to say that the game is a blast and I can’t wait to get a chance to pick it up and play it more on release. After that, I might make a bigger post about the game as a whole.

My TV Died

My TV died. It’s an older LG 42LE5400 from about 2011/2012. It’s long had a line of dead pixels down the left side which was noticeable on any brighter scenes, but overall it was an okay set and served its seven years well. I don’t know how much I spent on it, on it, but reviews from the time suggest an MSRP of $1,499.99, which I think is a bit high, so I probably got it under the $1k mark. The TV turns on and gets stuck at the LG logo. I can’t even get to the input options to watch stuff on my PS4/XBox One/Switch. Seems this suggests the motherboard died. Now there is a possibility that the board just needs “reflowed” which involves either a hot air gun or putting it in a preheated oven (at about 385 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes). So I’ll probably try the reflow option using a hot air gun, then I have to face the choice, do I try and buy a used motherboard that may or may not work for $50+, or a new TV.

Obviously, this article then is on the new TV options, from high end down to lower and more reasonable choices. Now if one is getting a new TV, you may as well go 4K, because that’s the direction TVs are moving, and prices are falling across the board. The TV I’m replacing is 42″, but as 55″ is the minimum for most of the TVs I’m looking at, I’m listing the 55″ option, at least until we get to the last one. Continue reading My TV Died

My First Origins Game Fair

I have, for a very long time, wanted to go to Origins Game Fair in Columbus or GenCon in Indianapolis. Origins is the far easier one as it is only a couple hours away, and in theory, could make for a nice long day trip, or quick two-day trip. However, things never really worked out between work, money, and availability.

I had given some thought of going this year (2018) as I didn’t have the kids that weekend (though I could easily trade if needed even if I did) and I was single, so no plans… until there were plans, my first date with a new lady in 8 years, but more on that in a bit. Continue reading My First Origins Game Fair

Down But Not Out to Win in Overtime

I’m not an athlete or much of a sports fan. I’m a geeky gamer guy. Not exactly the sort of guys lots of folks would swipe right to, LOL. Still, on occasion, I can enjoy watching sports. Mostly soccer and hockey.

In my youth, I saw a professional baseball game with a group, probably church, at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium and once at Jacob’s Field on a cold opening day (not THE opening day, but one year). I saw what would become the Akron Aeros a couple times when they played in Canton at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium, including their opening game there (I’m pretty sure I saw another with a group). However, baseball is pretty the lowest of my major in the US sports interests. American style football would probably be next on that list and aside from portions of a Hall of Fame game, when I was a volunteer, I’ve never seen a game of that in person (probably wouldn’t want to as it is generally too cold). [Side note, professional football players are huge, while I’m sort of small… those guys are huge compared to normal guys.] Basketball I’ve never really got, but I’d put that next, at least the action flows better than the other two.

That leaves us with Soccer and Hockey. Both of which I’m what one would call a casual fan. I enjoy watching them some, but I don’t know the players’ names and positions, even for the teams I watch. Continue reading Down But Not Out to Win in Overtime

Reflections on the new digital version of the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

I love games. A casual look at this blog would probably make that obvious. I don’t talk about tabletop games too often, but I really do enjoy them. My favorites are co-op games where all players are working toward the same goal, and I can even appreciate hidden traitors in my co-op. When I play video games, I prefer Player vs Environment (PvE) over Player vs Player (PvP), and again, if co-op is in there, all the better.

Fantasy Flight Games has a few good co-op tabletop games, chief among them are a couple of Living Card Games. In Living Card Games, they function like the familiar Collectable Card Games such as Magic the Gathering, Pokemon and many others, but all booster packs have the same cards, so there is no chasing card. While I love Netrunner, it is the co-ops that I truly love. Arkham Horror: The Card Game is amazing, and captures the spirit of the great Fantasy Flight Arkham Chronicles. Then, of course, there is their long-standing The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, a game that has stood the test of time as an amazing co-op/solo game experience, rich in depth and story.

Into this world comes a new game from a new division of Fantasy Flight, Fantasy Flight Interactive, and their first title The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game. Continue reading Reflections on the new digital version of the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

Brian’s Writing Laptop Campaign – An Explanation

There have been some questions about my Brian’s Writing Laptop Campaign.

EDIT: Since this was originally written, Scrivener on Windows has achieved parity with the Mac version (or soon will anyhow), so a Windows laptop could do okay, but preserving this post for posterity.

Fist, the Why? Well, I enjoy writing, and I’d love to be able to do that remotely, that is away from my home computer. Not an easy task. With a laptop, I could write during my lunch break for example, or while I’m out of town away from my desktop… if I got a break from other activities anyhow. It also allows me to write while out with one of the local writing groups. If for some reason you can’t see the link on the sidebar, here are The Collected Writing Prompts of Brian A Thomas.

Why a MacBook over a cheaper equivalent Windows laptop, or even Chromebook? First and foremost was the software. Scrivener currently is better on the Mac than PC. Now sometime in 2018, the PC version is supposed to reach feature parity with Scrivener on the Mac, so one could argue just wait, then buy the new version at whatever the discount will be for upgrading is. More on Scrivener in a bit. Vellum is Mac only, and that is more of a down the line tool for when I’m more ready to self-publish or submit for publication to somebody.

Scrivener is far superior to Word, Open Office Write, Google Docs, and all those other general purpose word processors. It is designed from the ground up as a tool for creative writing, and non-fiction, scripts and the like as well. It has lots of tools and methods that make writing, especially longer works, far easier. I haven’t even really started to use it (mostly because I’m using the trial at the moment), but I’ve been blown away by the YouTube videos I’ve seen of what it can do.

The next reason on why a MacBook over a Windows laptop are fewer distractions. The Mac is still not a great gaming platform, while the PC is. I would undoubtedly use the Windows machine to game far more than write.

Why not a Chromebook? Because in terms of what I’m using the laptop for, it wouldn’t function well. It is great if all you want to do is browse the web and other light duties that may be easier on a laptop than your phone, but it isn’t a good productivity tool at all. You don’t want to trust your writing to the cloud. A Chromebook is a no-go. If I wanted a cheap web browsing, Netflix watching thing, it might do, but at that point, a cheap tablet would also do.

Now we’ll get into some of the other points most brought up. Continue reading Brian’s Writing Laptop Campaign – An Explanation

Dauntless – The Daunting Task of Making a Game in the Monster Hunter Genre

You always remember your first. In terms of Monster Hunter type games, that first for me was Dauntless, back when I was in the Technical Alpha, playing it under NDA. Now that it’s been out for awhile, I thought it time to speak a bit about it.

Since playing Dauntless, I’ve tried Monster Hunter Online, Monster Hunter Generations on my 2DS, and trying Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on my iOS devices (I’m probably going to give up on that until I get a good MFi controller for it, as the touchscreen control sort of hampers the experience), and I’d have to move Monster Hunter style games near second on my list of genres that get me near excited. First would be looter shooters, but Monster Hunter style games come in a close second, if not nearly tied for first.

Dauntless, has become a staple of my Twitch streams.

Here’s a collection of highlights Continue reading Dauntless – The Daunting Task of Making a Game in the Monster Hunter Genre

Fortnite The Quick and Dirty Post

I’ve been saying to myself I’d make a proper Fortnite post since the game’s NDA dropped… originally I was going to make an article, record a video (done), edit it (not done) and get it up, and the post up to go live as soon as the NDA dropped… I didn’t get around to it.

I did play and stream the game that first day that us testers got back into the game (a day before the regular people pre-purchasing Early Access could play), and again figured I’d get an article up soon… again, I never made it.

So now we get to today, and I think it’s time to at least post an article pointing to my recent streams (or at least highlights of such). Side note before we get into them, if you watch my stream (and some others) live, you can get special in game quests.

Without further ado, here’s some of the highlights:

First four are from the testers head start:
Fortnite – Playing the Tutorial
More Fortnight Continue reading Fortnite The Quick and Dirty Post

Why Destiny 2 Physical Copies Should Go Out Before September 6th

Destiny 2’s (Amazon link) launch date is September 6th at midnight PST, but you can preload your digital copy, at least on PS4, we don’t know the XBox One’s preload date yet, on September 3rd. 3 days early. Apparently it is about 68 GB on the PS4, so it’s a fairly big file and will take time to download, especially given how many people will probably hit the servers to get the preload started. So I’ve been thinking… I know, dangerous territory… that it makes little sense to hold physical copies back until the launch on the 6th. Destiny 2 is an online game, and having the disc ahead of time won’t let them play any sooner than those with the digital pre-load… now I can see holding the physical copies until the 3rd to have parity, and both will probably require a day one patch, at the very least to activate them, and connect let them connect to the servers.

Of course the real question is, if you pre-order from Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop or whatever, do you get a code early enough to pre-load, or is that only for those who order from Sony, Microsoft, Bungie directly, with all others getting their code at midnight on the 6th? From the looks of things, only those who got it directly from the 3 main stores (and really Bungie’s just redirect’s you to the other two) will get the preload, Continue reading Why Destiny 2 Physical Copies Should Go Out Before September 6th

Why I’m Not Upset At GGG for Selling Beta Keys

I’m not personally upset at Grinding Gear Games for selling beta keys for $10 over at Chrono.gg for the new Path of Exile… note by the time this post is actually read, odds are the sale will be over as it was for 24 hours only, and I didn’t buy one, and I’m not in the beta myself, though I wish I were.

I’m first going to say that I’m in no way judging anyone for being angry, just noting I personally not upset in this particular case at GGG.

I fully get the anger at the way there are too many developers selling beta access. I get that betas are for testing, and many people feel GGG, or any other developer, shouldn’t charge for beta testing their game for them. The problem with that though is 90% of the people who get in betas on any modern game, don’t test, just play… now I don’t have any figures to back that up, but I doubt I’m that far off. I wager that very few people who get chosen for a beta provide the quality feedback that the developer is looking for. Most test forums, at least on the NDA games I’ve done, are generally the same group of players providing feedback, and I know the playerbase is much larger. Now there’s no NDA in place here, but I still doubt that many of the people in the beta are providing the kind of feedback that helps GGG test, balance, and otherwise make the expansion as good as it can be. Continue reading Why I’m Not Upset At GGG for Selling Beta Keys

Once More With The Crew, This Time With The Boys

Two years ago, I went to My First Columbus Crew Match. Recently, I took my boys to their (and mine) first hockey game. At long last, I, thanks to help from my mother and step father, was able to deliver on a promise to take my kids to a professional soccer match… and what a near perfect day. Slightly cloudy, but no rain, humidity was relatively low for this time of year, as was the heat, which peaked in the upper 70s (F). Continue reading Once More With The Crew, This Time With The Boys

It’s Going to be a Very Long, but Fun Journey Home

So I managed to get a preview copy of The Long Journey Home (Steam Page) from the developers, and I got to say I’m beyond glad I did. I’ve fully enjoyed my time in the game, and I’ve barely made much progress on the journey home yet. The game is basically a rouge like, space exploration game along the lines of FTL, but a different art style, and what seems far more depth than what I at least got out of FTL. It also adds a bit of the old Atari Lunar Lander arcade game thrown in for good measure. Add to all this a good narrative and you end up with a fun new game.

Odds are it will take several runs to make the journey home. Each time you have to restart from scratch, but you keep your knowledge each run. The basic story of the game is that you were on the first jump capable ship, on your way to Alpha Centauri, when your jump drive malfunctions and sends you far from home. Now you are on your journey home. You’ll have to upgrade your ship and lander, and meet aliens, and work your way home. Continue reading It’s Going to be a Very Long, but Fun Journey Home

First Two Hours of The Surge

As I noted in my article about Bloodborne, Bloodborne – Frustration Triumph, my very first experience with a Souls like game, was Deck 13 Interactive‘s Lords of the Fallen, “which turned into one of my biggest game purchase regrets ever.” Indeed I was turned off the Souls like games by the experience, but then read that it was a poor example, and I did have a good time with Bloodborne. Despite that poor experience, when I saw they were developing a new Souls like game, The Surge, but based in a sci-fi setting, I still got excited for the possibility. I for one am willing to give a developer several chances to show they can do well, and so the question became, would The Surge impress.

I’ve done a couple hours now. I was out of town for the weekend, and my first day to play it I was busy with a game that’s under NDA (that one will get coverage once it drops), plus I was watching my kids for a few hours, all of which meant not much time yet with it. Still, I have to say, based on the first couple hours, I am far more impressed with this than Lords of the Fallen… it’s in all honestly not as impressive or smooth as Bloodborne was at the same point, but so far I have to say it has been fun. The game doesn’t shortcut and cheat, and mistakes are generally my own, like a proper Souls like game should be.

UPDATE: I’ve made it to the first boss… and I’ll detail more at the end of the article. Continue reading First Two Hours of The Surge

Well… At Least There Was a Fight

I’ve taken my children to their first professional, of any level, sporting event. While I had planned on that being a Columbus Crew game (MLS soccer), I decided, “Why not Zoidberg?” err… “Why not hockey?” I myself have never been to a hockey game, and the tickets for the game were cheap enough, especially for the seats… a bit cheaper than the soccer tickets will likely be later in the year. I’m a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and by extension and location, their AHL affiliate the Cleveland Monsters. The AHL, for those who may not know, is the American Hockey League, it is the professional league right below the NHL. The Cleveland Monsters won the AHL championship just last year, a short while before the Cavs brought back a major league win for Cleveland. The Monsters haven’t been as great this year…

Anyhow, the boys and I arrived in Cleveland, parked and made our way to the arena, a bit of a long walk, only to discover I didn’t have my wallet. I had left my wallet in the car when I paid parking. So back to the car, then back through the mall and the walkway to the arena. It was now a bit past 7, so we missed the introductions and the start, but it was still the first 5 minutes of the game.

I think our seats were actually pretty nice all things considered.

Our end was the end the Monsters came to first and third periods. Continue reading Well… At Least There Was a Fight

Hopelessly Addicted to Oxygen Not Included

You know you are in trouble when you’ve played a game for a couple or few hours after work and now it is a bit after 10 PM and you decide you’ll stop in a minute so you can wrap things up for the night and get ready for work early the next morning, then the next thing you know it is midnight (if not near 1 AM) at now you are going to have just a few hours of sleep, and you are going to regret it in the morning. Such a game is Oxygen Not Included, the newest title from Klei, perhaps most well-known for their Don’t Starve series. The game is coming soon to Steam Early Access (you can get super early access via this Oxygen Not Included thread for $19.99 USD, and price is expected to go higher later, though they haven’t set a price yet).

Oxygen Not Included is a space colony simulator, similar to Rimworld and a couple of others, but with a fun cartoon art style from a 2D platformer perspective. It is early Alpha stage at this point, early even for Steam Early Access (which is why the normal Steam page doesn’t include a way to buy it), but is very playable, and a bit overly addictive. I’ve managed to avoid playing too much the last two nights… never mind that I was out-of-town away from my computer one night and busy with chores the other… Continue reading Hopelessly Addicted to Oxygen Not Included

Bloodborne – Frustration and Triumph

I’ve never played a Dark Souls game, nor Demon Souls, or pretty much any game like it prior to Bloodborne… well, there was a brief flirtation with Lords of the Fallen, which turned into one of my biggest game purchase regrets ever. However, after recently playing the free to play Let it Die on my PS4, and growing interest in the idea of the Souls games, I delved into seeing which game to get, and based largely on the story, I went with Bloodborne.

The result? Lots of F bombs from me to the game. It is a constant frustration to die so often. Going in, I knew this would be the case though, and I’m working on it. So far, I’ve pretty well enjoyed my time in Yharnam. Continue reading Bloodborne – Frustration and Triumph

Conan Exiles – Early Alpha Thoughts

It’s early alpha. Keep in mind it’s early alpha.

FunCom has recently released into Steam Early Access their new survival game, Conan: Exiles. I’ve been trying the beta off and on this weekend (it’s been a busy weekend with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands (not as overly exciting as I had hoped, but shows promise and I’ll get it on a good sale and I don’t care if it doesn’t have PvP) as well as Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 (okay but buggy on my system), I was hoping to try Decksplash, but didn’t get into that alpha this weekend, and I have the kids this weekend, so a busy weekend.. Anyhow, back to Conan. I’ve dived into the alpha (in the interest of full disclosure, provided by a PR firm, not directly from the developers) a bit off and on this weekend, and so far I have mixed feelings on it. Now note, this is based off a very limited time with the Alpha so far, and later articles may delve deeper.

It’s early alpha, not even beta really, so the bugs and the like, I can deal with for the moment as I’m sure they’ll work out some of the lag issues (from watching streams and the like, it seems the more housing and the like on a server, the more it lags, even if you aren’t near the housing and aren’t rendering them on your client), clipping and other bugs. The server lag is a big problem, and one they are working hard to solve, especially for official servers which went down while they search for better hardware.

The game is very difficult. As in harder than ARK, and this is even on PvE mode, I can’t imagine the nightmare on PvP. Continue reading Conan Exiles – Early Alpha Thoughts

Visiting the Ancient Ruins in Elite Dangerous

When Frontier Developments should a trailer of the new 2.2 Guardians update to Elite Dangerous: Horizons, they showed some ancient ruins. A player managed to figure out where those ruins were from the stars and nebula in the background and triangulated their way to the ruins. How he did that is far beyond me or the scope of this article. I had just arrived at HIP 10716 to get ready to do some Imperial rank grinding (HIP 10716 and Wu Guinagi Imperial Rank grind) and it was only a few hundred light years away, so I decided to hold off on the grind and visit the system. It would be my first time landing on a planet without a station (I’ve done plenty of station landing on planets), and first time using my SRV.

From the featured image above, you can see my SRV looking at an apparent alien obelisk.

I used the Radio Sidewinder Ancient Ruins Visual Guide to help guide to the me where to land once at the system…

As I got near, I decided to stream it. The stream went down a couple times, but I managed to get a couple good highlights in. Continue reading Visiting the Ancient Ruins in Elite Dangerous

My Suggestion for Elite Dangerous PVE Player Griefing

Elite Dangerous is a huge open sandbox MMO. And with open sandbox this usually means player can kill other players. The consequences very from game to game, and right now Elite Dangerous doesn’t do much to punish player killers. There is no PVE server, so many of us PVE players join up with a private PVE group. The other day I was at the ancient artifact grounds (Visiting the Ancient Ruins in Elite Dangerous), and left, but apparently some griefers were out there killing other players in the private PVE group, and this got me thinking that we need a solution in game. Within the groups Facebook page, there was a discussion about a PVE option, and punishments for players who grief PVE players, and that inspired this blog post.

The problem is there is no punishment for griefing players. A small bounty, but that is paid easy enough. In real life you go to jail, and that is where this gets to. Continue reading My Suggestion for Elite Dangerous PVE Player Griefing

Random Musings of Father, Gamer, Author, and occasional YouTuber, and Twitch Streamer, Brian A. Thomas.