Say a prayer: Priest arena run

Say a prayer: Priest arena run

My Hearthstone Arena experience has been not pleasant of late, with most runs not getting to 5 wins even. My best classes and decent drafts have all failed me. With that, I am turning to my worst and least played class, Priest. Though Rogues perform miracles in Hearthstone, I am dire need of a turnaround.

Decklist

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Haven’t had one these mana curves in a while.
  • Card quality is pretty good overall.
  • Very little late game, plenty of early and mid game though.
  • Quite a bit of AoE, with 2 Holy Novas, Auchenai + Circle, and a couple of Wild Pyromancers.
  • Card cycling will happen through 4 discover cards I have.

Games

  1. Warlock – 1st – 1-0 – Big board fight on Turn 7-9, helped by a discovered Toshley/Sneed’s Shredder I had. Opponent played two legendary dragons in Chillmaw and Onyxia late, and the Chillmaw definitely backfired in clearing their own board. Fossilized Devilsaur was useful in this game as well.
  2. Mage – 1st – 1-1 – I was going aggro in this game, while my opponent had pure card advantage. I was up 30-4, but started down 2 secrets, likely Ice Block and Effigy. So I kept going face. I was out of cards by the end, and I had to concede.
  3. Rogue – 1st – 2-1 – Easy game, where my opponent anti-tempoed big time by playing Summoning Stone and Blade Flurry. Fossilized Devilsaur and a discovered Cairne chipped away enough.
  4. Hunter – 1st – 3-1 – The true highlight of the run. The fight for the board lasted till Turn 8, when I had a buffed 4/4 Shadowboxer and clear with Holy Nova. My opponent then fueled up with Jeeves, drawing a few crucial cards, including Gladiator’s Longbow. I decided to pick Majordomo Executus for some reason against a threatening board, and he activated when I had 15 life. Though I lose a Armored Warhorse joust, I had enough for lethal thanks for Tomb Spider and DIE INSECT!
  5. Druid – 1st – 4-1 – Really quick 7 turn game where I just out-aggroed the opponent. A board never relinquished will lead to laughers like this.
  6. Rogue – Coin – 4-2 – Rogue did Rogue things, and had a Yeti that stayed on the board forever. I was down 25-5 in Turn 8, and stuck it out to Turn 10 out of sheer desperation.
  7. Shaman – 1st – 5-2 – I had full control in this game, though the board was seemingly contested every turn. A late Entomb sealed the deal.
  8. Paladin – Coin – 5-3 – A smart opponent who knew I was holding on to Holy Novas. A slew of discovery reinforcements were not enough to save me from the big threats I couldn’t clear.
Hearthstone Screenshot 02-21-16 14.25.20
I love the Shadowboxer’s attack effects.
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A Devilsaur gains 3/3 and taunt after become a fossil.

 

Grades

  • Circle of Healing –  C+ – I pulled off the Auchenai Circle combo once in a game I was losing for sure. At other times I used it as a bait for Counterspell. Otherwise it did nothing in my hand.
  • Power Word: Shield – B+ – Didn’t get the card too often, but I used it on an opponent for cycling cards once when I was topdecking. Another time, it allowed a minion to live after trading.
  • Zombie Chow – B+ – A late game Zombie Chow provided enough life in a close game to the opponent. Otherwise, solid early game presence/trading.
  • Shadow Word: Pain – A- – Didn’t get it much, but used it to great value against a 3/5 Dragonkin Sorcerer, and clearing a 3/3 MCT in a close game that threatened lethal.
  • Mad Bomber – C- – I only played Mad Bomber once, and I killed my own minion.
  • Museum Curator – A+ – The best card of the run that seemingly discovered legendaries on every pick. The picks I played include Toshley, Sneed’s Shredder and Cairne Bloodhoof. Once I opted for Majordomo in what resulted in a very close game.
  • Puddlestomper – C+ – Nothing amazing, was played as my opening 2-drop twice and was subsequently traded by the opponent.
  • Shadowboxer – B+ – Despite having bad aim at clearing enemies, the Shadowboxer provided a solid 2/3, which traded well against small things. As other times, the constant face damage helped me quite a bit.
  • Shrinkmeiser – B+ – Did pretty good, allowing me to keep my minions alive after trading.
  • Wild Pyromancer – B – I used the Holy Nova combo a few times to good effect, but sometimes the 3 dmg was not enough. Otherwise, played for tempo a ton.
  • Velen’s Chosen – A+ – Just an amazing card that provided buffs to my minions, allowing them to stay around a while, thanks to the Priest heals.
  • Scarlet Crusader – B- – Did not show up a ton in this run, but it once became a 5/5, until it got Polymorphed.
  • Auchenai Soulpriest – A- – Pulled off the Circle combo once, but otherwise was good for spot clears of dying minions. Traded well with minions as well.
  • Chillwind Yeti – B- – The yeti did it’s job with the vanilla 4/5 stats. Nothing remarkable in this game.
  • Kezan Mystic – C+ – Pulled off a 2 for 1 trade once, but otherwise a tempo card that never got to steal any secrets.
  • Piloted Shredder – B+ – Did Piloted Shredder things, forcing trades and dropping something off. The cards I got from drops weren’t that good in this run.
  • Sen’jin Shieldmasta – A– Did a very solid job to create awkward situations, to allow me to set up my board. Used Velen’s Chosen on him a few times to create a big taunt.
  • Spellbreaker – C+ – I silenced a Nerubian Egg once, which had no bearing on a game I had easily won.
  • Tomb Spider – B – I didn’t get notable cards from Tomb Spider, but it allowed me to activate Fossilived Devilsaur twice. The 3/3 body was useful in wearing down opponents as well.
  • Holy Nova – A- – Quite devastating in a few games, with Wild Pyro to clean up. In my final game though, my opponent played around both Holy Novas I used.
  • Frostwolf Warlord – B- – Showed up a couple times to be a big threat to end games. Traded well or hit face.
  • Madder Bomber – I – Did not show up the whole run!
  • Entomb – A – Used it on Molten Giant, Fen Creeper and Force-Tank Max.
  • Fossilized Devilsaur – B+ – Surprise of the deck. Once being a big time beatstick to hit face, another time being the threat for lethal. Both times, it had taunt thanks to Tomb Spider.
Hearthstone Screenshot 02-21-16 13.23.16
I immediately thought of this deck. Huehuehue
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Anduin needed a nap during the run.

Upshot

  • My best run in 6 days or so, really with the Priest.
  • With that Priest leapfrogs Warrior as second-worst!
  • This is a deck that better Priest players would take maybe 8 or more wins. Just a great deck drafted, played by someone who doesn’t know how to play Priest.
  • Velen’s Chosen is really good. That will leave a bitter taste when Standard Play comes around.

Fixing a Hole: Brainstorming Standard Play Adjustments

Fixing a Hole: Brainstorming Standard Play Adjustments

The Hearthstone-playing community has no idea when the game will face it’s biggest shift ever, when Standard Play and Wild become established. There is an upcoming Hearthstone announcement in about 2 weeks, so perhaps the end is nigh for our current state of the game. While there are going to be changes to basic/classic cards, and a whole new expansion, let’s take a look at a deck in particular, and look for ways to fix the hole afforded by the exclusion of Naxx and GvG cards.

Reliquary Zoolock

Currently this is one of two decks I ladder with in February 2016, and I am currently Rank 9. Fairly standard Reliquary/Flood Warlock deck. It plays a little heavier by excluding a 1-drop for having both Enhance-o-Mechano and Gormok. Brann has revitalized the deck, allowing doubled battlecries that work great with Reliquary Seeker, Dark Peddler, Gormok, and most of the other cards. This deck is fast and has limited removals.

Cut list

  • 2x Nerubian Egg
  • 1x Loatheb
  • 1x Echoing Ooze
  • 2x Haunted Creeper
  • 1x Enhance-o-Mechano
  • 1x Dr. Boom
  • 2x Imp-losion

1/3 of the deck is restricted for Standard Play, so a fairly big loss!

Current replacement options (in some order of relevance)

  1. Imp-losion – Seems like the biggest blow to this deck. You are losing a token generator and the only spell removal of the deck.
    • Bane of Doom – A small spot removal, with the potential to make a bigger demon on your side. While not great in this deck, the removal + minion effect directly gives what Imp-losion did. The minion will be stickier than the imps you get, but that will depend on RNG.
  2. Haunted Creeper – Just a great value card, where you get 3/4 worth for 2 mana. The staggered effect of spiders also works very well.
    • Knife Juggler – A lot of people run Knife Juggler in the current Reliquary format, given some synergy with cheap minions. To make it work, the deck will have to get smaller, with more 1-drops. Loss of Imp-losion also works against it.
    • Flame Juggler – A sturdier 2/3, with a battlecry that could trigger twice with Brann. Another 2-drop consideration.
    • Sunfury Protector – A 2-drop that can let you taunt up big guys or Imp Gang Boss.
  3. Nerubian Egg – Another big loss, as this was the prime target for buffs in this deck, to make a 4/4 minion.
    • Dragon Egg – This egg is inferior, but can fill the same role as the Nerubian. You’re getting a 0/2 for 1 mana, so a Power Overwhelming will give the same 4 attack egg beater, and summons a 2/1. A Defender of Argus will make a 1/3, which has potential to spawn 2 2/1’s. Really the only benefit of Dragon Egg is that it costs 1 and has the potential to make 2 Black Dragons.
    • Ancient Watcher – Only has utility to be taunted up, or if you want to waste your Owl to let it attack.
  4. Loatheb – He served as the protection play to save the board, close out a victory, or just be a 5/5 for tempo.
    • Lorewalker Cho – Right now, Cho serves as the immediate “protection” from spells. This protection is more a mental stressor on the opponent, as nothing is preventing them from taking action to play the spells. Against a flood deck, playing a Blizzard, Flamestrike, or Consecration is likely well worth it getting copied by Cho. In other cases, you will get a spot removal spell, when they kill Cho. Cho also only costs 2, which is good for this deck. Also, this deck runs almost no spells.
    • Frostwolf Warlord – Can fill the 5-drop tempo hole, and has the potential to be fairly big minion (10/10) in a flood deck. The best case scenario has Brann out as well, so can become a 16/16. There are enough beaters in it though with the Reliquary Seekers and Sea Giants.
  5. Dr. Boom – Token generator and great value that fit very well in this deck.
    • Onyxia – A subpar legendary replacement, but the flood of Whelps could have a use for setting up the rest of the deck.
  6. Echoing Ooze – Just a token generator, not the hugest loss for the deck.
    • Murloc Tidehunter – A clearly inferior option, as the 2/1 and 1/1 Murlocs can be readily killed by hero power, while the Oozes were 1/2 minions.
    • Razorfen Hunter – Gives you a 2/3 and 1/1 for 3 mana, which something to think about.
    • Imp Master – Provides a steady stream of Imps, but is a little slow at 3 mana.
    • Silver Hand Regent – An infinite token generator that is a bit slow to set up for this deck.
  7. Enhance-o-Mechano – Just an RNG-dependent upside card, one that could provide a big swing with the windfury, or some protection.
    • Blood Imp – Theoretically Enhance-o-Mechano was always the budget Gormok, so he can be replaced by the “Zombie Chow” that was always in the deck. But no Zombie Chows in Standard Play. The 1-drop Blood Imp will remain on the board if you’re not facing Mage, and gives buffs to keep your small things alive.
    • Gadgetzan Jouster – While providing use with early surveillance on your opponent’s deck, the only way she wins a joust if you reveal your own Sea Giant.
    • Argent Squire – Sticky 1-drop. Very good!
    • Leper Gnome – More aggressive and likely not to make the deck.
    • Flame Imp – Another 1-drop for consideration

 Standard Version

Reliquary Zoolock

Of course this exercise is moot given the new expansion, but this is a good starting point of thinking about the effect of Standard Play on a deck like this.

Pick Your Poison: The Dilemma of 3 Bad Arena Choices

Yesterday when I drafted my Rogue Arena run, I was faced with a difficult last pick: Master of Ceremonies, Cogmaster’s Wrench, and Murloc Warleader. All three of these options are pretty bad choices that typically aren’t first, second, or third options that come to mind. While I had to make a choice to get on and start playing, my final decision ultimately paid off big time and helped me get to 9 wins. Here’s a virtual checklist I played through my head when deciding.

  1. Synergy – I believe having synergy is the best decider between bad cards. My deck had no spellpower, so the Master of Ceremonies as a 4/2 for 3 mana was not really compelling. The Murloc Warleader is a 3/3 for 3, which isn’t the worst, but has no synergy with no murlocs. Further, this pick had anti-synergy, given the presence of an enemy Murloc Knight or any other Murloc. As for mechs, I had Harvest Golem, 2 Mechanical Yetis and Fel Reaver. 4 mechs in a deck of 30 is not too many, but all 4 of the mechs drafted are all fairly sticky. The Wrench also has synergy with Deadly Poison and Blade Flurry in the deck.
  2. Value – While the definition of a bad arena pick is having poor value, sometimes it really depends. The Murloc is probably the “best” value as a 3/3 for 3. I play 3/3 for 3 all the time in constructed with SI: 7 Agent. Cogmaster’s Wrench has the poorest value with no mechs, as the 1/3 weapon is worst than Light’s Justice. Though with a Mech, it has decent value, hitting up to 9 damage.
  3. Normalizing the Mana Curve – My mana curve was fine for this draft. But sometimes you just don’t have enough early game 2-drops, or your deck is too small for your playstyle. That could make the difference between 3 bad picks. Mogor’s Champion is an example of a bad pick, but could fit the big guy role.
  4. Class Synergy – Certain bad cards work better for some classes than others. Grim Patron could work with Mage for some poor man’s Inspire mechanic. Cheap cards work well with Rogue so they can act as combo enablers. Timber Wolf isn’t the worst card in the world for a deck of beasts in a  Hunter. Bad taunts like Frostwolf Grunt work better for Warlock.
  5. Something is Missing – Sometimes one of three bad picks can fill a missing element in your deck. If you’re lacking reach, you can go for something like Reckless Rocketeer. If you have no card draw at all, you can go for something like Coldlight Oracle. If you want a heal, Priestess of Elune can provide some use.
  6. Upside – I also sprung for the Cogmaster’s Wrench in this pick, because it had the 9 damage upside, along with the weapon synergy. The other cards in my draft offered no upside. When you’re picking between three bad cards, the upside pick could help you eke out a game where the odds are against you. Some examples of upside picks you may encounter include Hungry Crab, Mana Addict and Thrallmar Farseer.

One of the things I enjoy most about the arena is that you will likely get to play every card at some point in your arena experience. And when confronted with three bad picks, the chances improve that you are trying out something new. The Cogmaster’s Wrench was definitely the right pick for my arena yesterday. The pleasant surprises you get from a bad card will likely outweigh having to draft it.

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This deck was likely horrendous.

 

Syphon Filter was the best

Syphon Filter was the best

To this day, my parents disapprove of my playing video games. It has always been this way, and back in the day, we struggled to have video game consoles in our home. My sister and I finally got our hands on a Playstation around the year 2000 or so, which was given to us by our uncle. Along with the console were a handful of bootlegged games, copies with sloppy titles written on with a Sharpie. It was through this collection of odds and ends that I discovered Syphon Filter.

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“MY GOD! Syphon Filter it’s…”

What’s Syphon Filter?

Syphon Filter is a third-person shooter series with the first 3 releases coming out in Playstation from 1999-2001, and later 2 releases on PS2, and the final coming out on PSP only. In this post, I will only be referring to the Playstation trilogy.

Haters say Syphon Filter was a ripoff of a more popular series, Metal Gear Solid. If the entire theme of Syphon Filter can be summed in one word, it would be bioterrorism. Syphon Filter is a genetically-programmable virus that can be altered to specifically target specific ethnic groups and demographics. You spend most of your time in Syphon Filter 1-3 trying to stop terrorists (and others) from spreading the virus.

Syphon Filter 1-3 are known for being notoriously difficult games. With poor AI characteristic of games from the turn of the century, exact precision is required to get by various points in the game.

Contrary to probably almost everyone who enjoyed Syphon Filter, I played the games backwards. The bootleg game I got from my uncle was Syphon Filter 3. Then I got 2 and finally the original.

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No idea what’s behind this stained glass window, but I’m jumping through it.

Mechanics

All three Playstation Syphon Filter games had the same exact game mechanics. Third-person shooters give you the advantage of being an omniscient presence, who can see over the character you try to keep alive.

Weapons – You can carry as many weapons as you want. You either get them from the mission, loot corpses or open green chests. Weapons usually carry over from mission sets.

Health – There’s no way to heal between mission sets. The characters cover their wounds with fresh flak jackets.

D-Pad – Moving around – Used for moving Gabe/Lian’s sexy ass.

Driving Wheels – Walk/face screen – Once in a blue moon, you have to walk, instead of run, for stealth purposes. You basically never use the driving throttles on the controller.

L1 – Manual aim – Pretty good for getting headshots, or shooting people in the legs, to bypass flak jackets.

L2 – Left lean/strafe – Leaning is good for hiding behind walls and getting head shots.

R1 – Auto-lock – The meat and potatoes of the trilogy. Auto-lock and shoot.

R2 – Right lean /strafe – Leaning is good for hiding behind walls and getting head shots.

Triangle – Action button – The all-purpose button for climbing, taking pictures, sabotaging, untying people, etc.

Square – Shoot – Hey, your thumb is your left most finger on your right hand. That’s why square is for shooting!

X – Crouch – Crouching is important, either to crawl around for stealth, or dodging bullets.

Circle – Combat Roll – A Syphon Filter trademark, the combat roll will not only protect you from gunfire, but also moving vehicles, explosives, and letting you salamander into tight spots.

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I’m sure this was pretty high-tech in 2000. Maybe.

Syphon Filter 3

How I got the game – Bootlegged copy from my uncle.

Game summary – Syphon Filter 3 is generally considered the worst of the trilogy. The storyline revolves around the Secretary of State grilling our protagonists at a US Senate Building. He tries to pin various crimes on them, accusing them of treason, etc. It turns out the Secretary of State was in cahoots with international terrorists. Most of the game includes flashbacks, which explain how each character got involved with the Syphon Filter virus.

New things – Given that SF3 was the first I played, I didn’t know what was new. You get to use Lawrence and Teresa for the first time. There are the most advanced weapons in this game, including an x-ray carbine, a magnum, and an explosive shotgun. I find out later that this the first game where the character’s mouths move for the first time in the cutscenes.

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Syphon Filter 3 also has non-story minigames! Here Elsa contemplates buying train station cola.

Level sequences

  • Japan – Gabe is out to assassinate the leader of a Chinese separatist group. After rescuing several hostages and escaping, Gabe is called to DC to testify at the Senate building. Some highlights of this level include saving a rival terrorist to get an explosive shotgun and tasing guys across a building.
  • Costa Rica (Gabe) – First flashback missions, where you actually have a flashback to the first cutscene of Syphon Filter 1. The first Costa Rica level is boring, and the second level consists of Gabe shooting out the final boss of Syphon Filter 1 out of a plane with an automatic shotgun or grenade launcher.
  • South Africa – You get Lawrence Mujari’s testimony as he talks about discovering Syphon Filter in Apartheid South Africa. Tasks in these levels include blowing up a mine, shooting guys on a mine cart, hostage rescuing, and just shooting guys.
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Mine carts always get in the action.
  • Afghanistan (Lian) – Lian Xing is testifying now and is working for the Chinese Secret Service in this mission. She is there to spy on Russians I think, and is saved by Gabe Logan. You take a bunch of photographs, blow up weapons caches and do a whole lot of sniping. A lot of tricking snipers in this level.
  • Ireland – While Lian is testifying, Gabe Logan somehow goes out to sink a ship containing Syphon Filter virus. These levels aren’t particularly difficult, but involve a lot of running around and shooting on the run.
  • Costa Rica (Lian) – One level foray where you run around shooting people, and saving a bunch of captured scientists.
  • Afghanistan (Gabe) – Gabe is back to testify, while Lian leaves for field work. Definitely the 2 most difficult levels of this game, some of the most difficult in the trilogy. Gabe has to defend a truck that is constantly being shot at by Afghans and mortars. Lots of snipers to deal with. The second level involves blowing up a tank with C4.
  • Australia – A mission with plenty of stealth components, sniping, and avoiding detection. You collect a bunch of ingredients, make a Syphon Filter vaccine, and inject a bunch of Aborigines.
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Dude on the left is casually walking by while his buddy is riddled by bullets.
  • Montana – A bombshell occurs when Teresa Lipan, who was shot dead in Syphon Filter 2, comes back to testify. This 3-level set in Montana gets pretty meta. As an ATF agent, you start working with the NSA and fight a nationalistic militia group, a lot like those guys in Oregon who took over the national refuge. Then the NSA tries to kill Teresa, and Gabe comes out of nowhere to save you. Then you infiltrate the militia compound to save a pregnant woman and teenage. Lots of nightvision going on, fighting in caves, and protection. Very difficult and intense levels, probably the best of this game.
  • DC – The Secretary of State is exposed as being a bad guy, but gets shot dead by a main villain of a Russian terrorist chick from Syphon Filter 1 and 2. The Senate Building fight is pretty fun, as it features some new weapons, and a return of vent crawling! Eventually you get on a DC subway train, where you have to disarm bombs, save hostages, and shoot terrorists who try to swarm you. You shoot Mara in the head again, and she somehow lives.
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In a pre-9/11 world, it was pretty easy to smuggle guns into the US Senate Building.

Syphon Filter 2

How I got the game – Got it from my friend in the 8th grade. We went to different high schools and lost contact, so I wound up keeping the game.

Game summary – Syphon Filter 2 is the monster game with the most levels and 2 discs. It is all about finding a cure for Syphon Filter after Lian is injected with the virus at the end of Syphon Filter 1. The theme of betrayal is pretty big in SF2, as almost everyone in The Agency seems to be a turncoat. You run into more turncoats before a final boss of another turncoat.

New things – SF2 seemed identical with SF2, albeit the characters couldn’t move their mouths in the cutscenes. More advanced weaponry than Syphon Filter 1, a good variety of missions with stealth, timed missions, plain old fighting. Lots of vent crawling. Notably, there is very little taser in SF2, so few prolonged frying shenanigans.

Level sequences

  • Colorado – Gabe is in a plane that is shot down over the Colorado Rockies. The first mission involves Gabe running around the mountains, rounding up his men, killing spooks (official name), collecting stuff. The next few missions have Gabe on I-70, where he has to kill more guys, diffuse bombs, and throw gas grenades. Gabe famously uses a flamethrower that he somehow found against a legion of armored men. Gabe finally is on a burning train, running and gunning. The Colorado series finally ends at the plane crash site, where he fights very difficult enemies and retrieves some CDs. Plenty of tough stealth situations here, and straight up difficult fighting against headhunters and guys with explosives. Gabe appears to survive an explosion after every cutscene in this series.
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Underrated skill: Jumping out of the way of a catastrophic explosion.
  • McKenzie Airbase – Lian is captured the same time Gabe is running around the state of Colorado. A test subject, she escapes McKenzie Airbase, where she is to be tested by Agency doctors about Syphon Filter. Because the US Armed Forces are good guys, Lian is forced to stun them using a taser to not kill them. A very frustrating stealth mission. Later, Lian gets outside of the airbase, incapacitating US Armed Forces, while killing Agency guys with silenced weapons. Even though she has a deadly, incurable illness, Lian highjacks a helicopter to eventually pick up Gabe.
  • NYC (Pharcom) – A 2 mission set. The first is a stealth mission that takes place in the same center in Syphon Filter 1. The second mission is a mission where you have Teresa helping you diffuse bombs, and a big boss fight against an old Agency guy in a suit, using an M79.
  • Moscow – Lian solos 4 missions in Moscow, where she tries to find a guy named Uri Gregorov. You start out in da club, an extremely grueling mission, where you fight in a bar, in a strobe-light flickering dance room, etc. You find yourself in the streets chasing Gregorv, and into a park. Lots of snipers, moving cars, other hazards abound in everyday Russian streets. You finally have to tase Gregorov in a dark park.
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The strobe lights look cooler in real-time.
  • Siberia – It turns out Gregorov is actually in a Siberian female Gulag! A very difficult stealth mission ensues, where you have incapacitate prison guards and free Gregorov from execution. The prison escape is another super difficult mission,  where you are seemingly endlessly under fire by prison guards. Lian succumbs to the effects of her illness after resurfacing from icy water, and basically soloing 6 straight missions.
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Russians have the ability to jump into the frozen sea while wearing a t-shirt.
  • NYC (Biolab) – Gabe infiltrates the Agency Biolab and pretends to be a scientist by stealing a guy’s lab coat (after asphyxiating him). A frustrating half-stealth mission where Gabe has to walk to be quiet, and face the wall so nobody sees his face. Gabe finds a knife, starts giving Colombian Neckties. He crawls some vents and confronts the Agency scientist to get Lian’s vaccine. The second mission has Gabe facing fully-armored guys who can only get killed with explosives. Using an M79 in a lab is a pretty bad idea given the close quarters of explosions, and flying individuals coming at you. Anyways, very difficult 2 missions here.
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“Give me the vaccine for Lian Xing. NOW!”
  • NYC (Outside) – Gabe traverses the Lower East Side and is finally united with the air taser, which means frying dudes in suits standing on rooftops. He encounters a hostage situation at one point, and the whole building is blown up. Gabe teams up with Teresa in the sewers, where they fight a lot of guys. Teresa is presumably killed by Chance, the final turncoat and your friend. The final act of SF2 is using an automatic shotgun to shoot the armored Chance into some helicopter tail rotor blades.

Syphon Filter

How I got the game – Got it from my sister’s friend. It was possibly a bootleg, since the entire CD was pink, but it had the official design on it.

Game summary – The original is considered the best one, though it is my least favorite. Syphon Filter breaks out through the world, as our protagonists learn more about it, who they work for, and stop terrorists.

New things – The original is the most vanilla of the Playstation trilogy, with a really bad voice actor for Lian. Because I played the games in reverse, it just seemed like a downgrade graphically.

Level sequences

  • DC – You go around shooting terrorists, and running around with CBDC agents (guys in yellow full-body ensembles) trying to defuse viral bombs. This takes you to the subway, where more bombs are, and you encounter a lot of flaming hazards. Eventually you run around subway tunnels to stop the main Russian terrorist trick, while dodging trains. You go to a park to save some hostages and diffuse some more bombs, Finally, you have to kill this pyro French terrorist named Girdeux.
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Don’t kill the guys in the funny yellow suits!
  • NYC – You attend a gala to try to track down Phagan, the head of a pharmaceutical company. These missions require some stealth and sabotage.
  • Somewhere cold in Europe – Not sure what is going in these levels, but you’re somewhere cold and dressed in white. You need some stealth moves to avoid detection and shoot out search lights. Lian gets captured in these levels, and you wind up fighting an attack helicopter as a boss.
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Gabe takes out a helicopter. Why couldn’t he do this in SF2?
  • Ukraine – Gabe finally learns about Syphon Filter by now and is dropped off at a cathedral, where you go around shooting guys in red cloaks. You shoot chandeliers onto people at times and have to kill some scientists.
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Stopping bioterrorism also involves vaccinating test subjects.
  • Kazahkstan – After saving Lian and temporarily joining forces with the terrorist Russian chick, you’re off to Kazahkstan where a big fight is going on. It’s confusing, but you have to tag boxes of bodies. It all culminates into stopping a nuclear missile and killing the final boss with gas grenades. All very difficult missions.

Conclusion

Syphon Filter on Playstation was just the best. While the game may or may not have future releases, it has developed a cult following over the years. Through the horrible voice acting and controller-hurling difficulty, the game made it’s mark in gaming history. This was a long overview of all three Syphon Filter games on Playstation. They’re pretty cheap online if you’re interested.

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This scene really makes no sense in retrospect.

Bold predictions for Hearthstone’s next expansion

It’s going to be one whole month before Hearthstone has it’s next big announcement, which is likely about the next expansion. With that in mind, let’s make some stupid predictions for this expansion!

  • Windfury + Charge – In TGT, we got the Silent Knight, the first to combine Divine Shield and Stealth. While Mega-windfury and Charge are present in VOLTRON, that card is going to be impossible to pull off in 2016. I expect this combination of mechanics in some form. Maybe a crazy Shaman 5 cost, overload 5, 4/1 with windfury + charge. Or some weak 2/1. Windfury + Charge is going to be an aggro staple, if implemented, and will likely need to be heavily overcosted or too weak to play.
  • Enchantments/Towns – Continuous spells/enchantments are a common TCG feature, and Hearthstone tested it out with the Fate Brawl. Seeing as how that went smoothly, I wouldn’t be shocked to see these come by. I can see the subject of enchantments being a town in WoW, or some important character’s blessing/curse. I also see them being anti-tempo, expensive cards, which could be Epic or Legendary.
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I expect enchantments to be a little more creative when they’re out
  • War Golem becomes 7/8 – We know that Dr. 7 is off to the showers in 2016, and the standard cards may be altered. There is no reason to not make War Golem a 7/8. It’s still not going to be played in constructed play. I do expect a 7/8 to come up in this expansion, and it will be pretty good in the arena.
  • Smaller magic eaters emerge – Loatheb has the unique ability to make spells expensive. With him out of the picture, this entire mechanic is gone. Because Malygos is virtually unaffected by Standard Play, Hearthstone could really become Wizard Poker. I expect smaller scale Loathebs emerge, making spells cost 2 or 3 more.
  • Warriors get something scary – It’s been a while since Warriors have struck fear in my heart. These armoring up guys and do nothing and armor up some more are not as pugnacious as I like. I expect some new minion that is destructive, and will be very anti-Control Warrior. They do need a new guy like this after the Patron nerf.
  • Paladins getting something OP – Sort of a running gag, but Paladins are taking a big hit with Standard Play. I fully expect them to get something OP to make them top dog in Constructed Play. Maybe a Divine Shield + 1/1 for 2-mana spell? A secret that gives them a random same-cost mana card that the opponent plays? A 5/4 divine shield minion for 4 mana?
  • Rogue gets a stealth weapon combo – Rogues haven’t received a new weapon since getting a damn Wrench. Without Tinker’s Oil, Rogues are in need of a new win condition. I can see some weapon having a combo effect of stealthing something.
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Dang ol trees
  • Druids get magical – It seems the Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo finally got the attention of Blizzard, and is getting changed significantly in some way. Druids currently have some tools to deal spell damage, with some powerful spells and Jungle Moonkin. Throw in Innervate, Malygos, Thaurissan, you might have something. Expect some spellpower help or more damage spells in the expansion.
  • Murlocs and pirates – With standard play, we lose two decent Murlocs in Puddlestomper and Siltfin Spiritwalker. Expect a new Murloc. Pirates also have been in the discussion of getting more help. Some tribe is going to have to pick up the slack after Mechs are banished.
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More cannons?
  • Land destruction/cloggers – I’m not sure where Blizzard has stood on the 7 minion board spots, but it would be a viable strategy against some flood decks. Maybe some minion that occupies 2 minion spots when its alive. Or some minion that summons 0/8 Can’t Attack guys on the other side.

Maybe none of these things will happen. In any event, I’m ready for the next reveal, and collecting dust/gold in the meantime.

 

Hearthstone and Football: The “Sports” of eSports

A holiday of sorts is coming this Sunday here in the States, as it will be Super Bowl Sunday. Though the National Football League only has their teams run 16 games each season, American Football remains the biggest sport in America, and the biggest moneymaker. And Super Bowl 50 is a particularly hyped affair, given the 2 quarterbacks leading each team.

Hearthstone is a bit of an emerging entertainment sport, as are all eSports. While firmly entrenched with gamers and other shades of nerd, Hearthstone is trying to branch out to the everyperson to get more players.

While there isn’t much in common between Hearthstone and football, there some similarities. Let’s try this futile exercise!

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MCT is also involved in Deflategate.
  1. Decks/Teams have distinctive qualities
    • The Super Bowl this year features the Denver Broncos vs the Carolina Panthers. The Broncos are a team that rarely scores 20 points nowadays, and is known for a smothering defense, which wins its games. This is basically what the Grinder/Freeze Mage decks do, persist forever, while hiding behind a tough exterior defense. Control Warrior is another good comparison for the Broncos.
    • The Carolina Panthers are solid defensively as well, though somewhat leaky. They are known for controlling their attack, and can be quite explosive, with good burst. Ramp Druid?
  2. Taking turns
    • Easy comparison here. In football, teams take turns playing offense and defense. In Hearthstone, one player is making moves each turn, while the other is waiting around.
  3. Fun to watch
    • Football is not my favorite sport, but it might be the most entertaining/exciting to watch. Hearthstone happens to be watched much and often on Twitch, and is a very watchable video game.
  4. MCT = Turnovers
    • Turnovers happen in football when the ball is intercepted or fumbled (typically). Though losing the ball is never good, some turnovers are a lot worse than others. Losing the ball on your opponents side of the field is a lot better than losing the ball on your side of the field. Losing the ball with a big lead is not as bad as losing the ball in tie game. MCT is the same. Your 1/1 could be stolen when your opponent is nothing on the board. Or it could steal your 9-drop, with no clear board advantage on either side.
  5. Brawl = Fumble scrum
    • When a ball a football is fumbled, there is a mad scrum to fight for the ball. This is basically what happens when Brawl is played, all the minions fight in a mad scrum. Also the side with more players is more likely to win possession of the ball/board.
  6. Aggro Decks Blitz
    • A blitz in football is a defensive play, in which you try to take the quarterback down quickly, by sending more guys than your opponent defense can handle. And usually guys who blitz can run fast. Imagine your last loss to a face deck. Yeah looks like staring down a blitz.
  7. Cam Newton plays his whole hand on lethal
    • The Panthers’ quarterback, Cam Newton, is a polarizing figure. Outside of being a freak athlete, he celebrates everything, from big time touchdowns, to just getting a first down. This rubs a lot of people (not me) the wrong way, who believe he shouldn’t be showboating all the time. So, Cam Newton is the guy who just plays his entire hand, when he clearly has lethal on the board.
    • Playing all your cards on lethal is more like bat flipping in baseball. I have heard from Asia-server Hearthstone players, that playing the whole hand is more acceptable, to show your opponent what you had. Obviously in the NA server, this is seen as annoying and other disrespect. In baseball, bat flipping (showing off after a home run) is common in Korean Baseball, and in Latin Winter Leagues. In the MLB, bat flipping could get you hit with a fastball next time.
  8. Miracles happen
    • Extraordinary things happen in football. Unbelievable comebacks, missed extra points, Hail Mary’s. Extraordinary RNG happens in Hearthstone. Rag’s hitting face for lethal, the perfect Confessor Paletress spawn, getting that Sinister Strike in a miracle draw…
  9. WWE Storylines

Richard-Sherman-Promo