• Member Since 24th Apr, 2012
  • offline last seen 7 hours ago

Wise Cracker


Just some guy, who likes animated stuff. That's about it.

More Blog Posts316

  • 6 days
    Another quick look into how a Cracker's mind works.

    So with the Bastion trilogy nearing completion and the first story uploaded, I've been looking at some future options in the breaktime after an upload. I never write on the same day I upload something, after all, as it tends to get distracting and possibly contaminate the future project.

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    0 comments · 35 views
  • 1 week
    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

    I suppose it'd be in-character to steal culturally appropriate open my horizons by celebrating a holiday so many of my fellow writers and readers celebrate. You know, again.

    What am I thankful for this year? Mostly the same as last year, I guess.

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    1 comments · 24 views
  • 4 weeks
    So what's the ETA on the Bastion thing?

    First story: finished, may need one or two lines tweaked to tie it all in to the bigger picture.

    Second story: in its seventh or eighth re-write, this time only from chapter 4-ish onward, though.

    Third story: outlined, most of the big scenes are done in the concept stage.

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    0 comments · 34 views
  • 5 weeks
    Two Halloween surprises for those unaware.

    First off: new Blender short film. If you liked Laika's Paranorman, you'll know some of the character designs. If you'd like to see a horror movie with Smurfs in it... yeah, that's basically what you're getting. Fair warning: rated T. Very much not PG-rated.

    Second surprise: Ghostbusters game.

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    4 comments · 73 views
  • 15 weeks
    State of the stories, and author

    Okay, quick update. You can do this, Cracker, just stick to the points.

    My Fey Lady

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    1 comments · 114 views
Sep
21st
2016

Should You Play Duelyst? The Answer May Surprise You! (Free Stuff Ahead) · 3:24pm Sep 21st, 2016

Well, time for another click-baity blog post. After the one about quitting Hearthstone, let’s talk about Duelyst. The brief version: Duelyst is a Free-to-Play online collectible card game, where you win by killing the other guy’s General. It’s played on a board, units can move around, range is a thing, and Generals fight back when damaged, so attacks are usually not free of cost.

Now, first things first: I do play the game, I enjoy it (mostly, more on that later), so take my words with a grain of salt. I should also note up front that while I’m rushing it a little bit with this post, the reason I’m posting now is because Humble Bundle is doing a special offer: you can claim 20 classic packs for free if you make a new account, as well as claim two copies of a Legendary card called Keeper of the Vale. Keeper used to be cancerous, nowadays it’s just decent and possibly strong if it’s built around. It’s a ¾ for five mana that revives a random non-token creature that’s died this turn, effectively making it a five-drop that scales with your collection: it’ll be much better after a few months of playing. So if you’re going to start playing, now is a good time.

So why take Duelyst if we’ve already established Hearthstone, a game of the same ilk, is so terrible?

Is it the complete lack of RNG cards? No, Duelyst has those. And some of them have a very, very big swing potential as well as a wide variance range.

Is it that Legendaries don’t make up every deck? No, that happens there, too. In fact, where Hearthstone has a ‘one copy per deck’ rule, Duelyst lets you have three of each, regardless of rarity. So yeah, if there’s ever a Dr. Boom sort of card, people will be running three, not one.

Is it that competitive decks aren’t that expensive, and you can in fact reach high ranks with a budget deck? Eh… Hearthstone has successful Zoo decks, too. So while you can hit high ranks (say, rank 5-ish) with a less than completely competitive deck, it’s not the major incentive.

The main considerations for Duelyst, in my opinion, are the rewards system and the in-game information. It’s not necessarily a fairer game than Hearthstone, but it is demonstrably and objectively a more honest game than Hearthstone.

For starters, Duelyst provides more information to new players from the get-go. You start off with a set of challenges (rewarding gold for essentially free packs) that are basically all designed around telling you ‘Hey, listen! This card exists, it can screw you over big time if you don’t know it exists! Here’s how it works! Got that?! Okay, carry on!”

There are seemingly innocuous minions like Chakri Avatar (a two-drop that gets bigger with every spell you cast) that demonstrate their power in these challenges, or spells that work like Unleash the Hounds in Hearthstone. The game warns you about these things, tells you who can run them, before you go to Ranked, you’re not just browsing the collection and going ‘Oh, so that works like that? Is that a thing?’ Besides the noobie challenges, there are daily challenges, which score you five gold a pop, and usually involve some puzzling with cards. For clarity’s sake: in the challenges, you get to use cards you do not own. Kind of a big deal in a game where crafting is a thing, and evaluation of investment can be important. A card might look fun, but not be worth it. That’s not to say it’s a perfect system: you still have to look up what exactly is meant by ‘random Battle Pet’, and if you don’t know what a Mechaz0r is, hoo Nelly, you’re in for a surprise the first time you get it against you. I’m hoping the creators make additional regular challenges so new players can spot these sorts of thing, but it’s still significantly better than Hearthstone’s attitude of learning to fly the sparrow way.

Secondly, there’s the ‘Watch’ feature. That is a nicely developed feature, and integrated well with the interface. Just think: the game’s main menu says ‘Play’, and below that it says ‘Watch’ as an option. Perfectly streamlined, couldn’t be clearer.

You can watch matches in Duelyst of any of the major ranking groups, which is a major source of information for evaluating cards, especially minions. You can pick out of a list, and check the icons of the Generals used, as well as the minions summoned. You can literally go ‘Huh, I wonder if Snow Chaser is any good right now,’ and go see if anyone is playing Snow Chaser, see how they use that card, see what synergises with it. And you can do all that from within the game client. Without having to go to YouTube or Twitch. Without having to add people as a friend. Though, if you do, you can check their match history, just like you can check yours. Did I mention you can check your match history? You can re-watch your games, check what you did wrong, what cards the opponent used. The game gives you a lot of information, is what I’m saying.

Then, the rewards system. Every Quest in this game, every daily, counts games played and not wins, with one exception: the daily ‘First Win of the Day’ bonus. Other than that, no pressure. You get a bonus fifteen Gold per two wins, and that sounds more generous than Hearthstone, but remember the three-copy rule. It’s not necessarily more generous in the grand scheme of things. It is, however, a lot more enjoyable, and I’ve argued for this system for a while now.

Think about it. You roll a Quest for a class you don’t main. Your rank is decent, but you don’t care about keeping it. You can’t lose ranks once you pass a certain threshold, anyway (so once you’re on Rank 5, you’re staying that high, no matter what losing streak you’re on). So, not being obliged to run the most competitive deck ever imagined, you toss together something that works, but isn’t going to win any championships soon. You can make a troll deck for your dailies, or an experiment. And you don’t get punished for it. If you only want to play four games, you can do that and collect your reward.

So, with all that said, should you play Duelyst? If you’re looking to get your online card game fix, sure. But you do have to put up with the occasional Aggro decks, or OP Legendaries, or randomness screwing you over (especially if you’re a Vetruvian main). And don’t think that just because you don’t have to win, you can farm up a full collection quickly. The first milestone for your collection will be getting all the Sworn Sisters, which are unlocked when you get all the class Rares (one Sister per class, and not all of them are equally strong) and six neutral ones (for L’Kian, kind of a random card generator). Getting all the Legendaries, or even the essential Epics, will be just as much of a grind as it is in other games.

What about gameplay and community? Well… the fact that wins aren’t what determines your Daily Quest success can have some odd effects on your opposition. People play the weirdest shit in this game, and sometimes the element of surprise can wreck the other guy. There is definitely room to be creative, within certain bounds. Netdecking is still a thing, but it’s not as prevalent, certainly not on the lower to middle ranks. A casual session of Duelyst is really just tossing together a deck and playing four matches for fun (if you concede too soon, the game doesn’t count it, incidentally). A serious session is taking the same deck and playing it ten times over, or more, and taking notes. The meta can shift in a matter of hours, and what worked like a charm yesterday can get absolutely crushed today.

I can personally attest to these statements, having gotten to Rank 5 on the back of a, err… well, a Kara deck with Sworn Sister Maia. You can almost hear the ‘Oh crap’ on the other end of the line when they realise the 2/1 Snow Chaser I suicided into them last turn is coming back as a 4/3 (that means they have to hit it twice to kill it again, taking eight damage… from a one-mana minion. It makes sense if you play it.)

But it is a frustrating game, and not one for the faint of heart. Because it involves a game board, positioning is key, and you can win or lose depending on whether you remember to place your dudes one square to the left or not. Disconnecting really sucks, too.

So should you play Duelyst? Maybe. It’s definitely not for everyone. But even if you don’t play it, you can still watch it in-game.

Comments ( 1 )

I'll stick to Faeria.

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