How I Feel About #iwantmygems

How I Feel About #iwantmygems

As one half of The Duel Assessment Podcast, it would be remiss for me to not address important things happening in the game and in the community. Given I had complete control of all topics discussed on Episode 70, I was negligent in not knowing about #iwantmygems before I recorded that episode. As these opinions do not reflect that of the podcast as a whole, I am writing about it on my personal site here.

How #iwantmygems started

The Duel Island – Gladiator Beast event kicked off in Duel Links late last week. The event, which was fairly well-received the first time around, has a lottery bag reward system. Your duel assessment translates into coins, and every 30 coins will yield one reward. Rewards range from cards (UR to N), keys, jewels (UR to R), gems, gold, and keys. All prior lottery bag events had a gem reward range from 1 to 15. This event inexplicably just offers a gem reward of 1 gem.

People were outraged by this gem nerf, and duelists primarily from Brazil started the #iwantmygems movement. The demands were to give Duel Links a 1-star review on the App Store or Play Store, and basically be angry about the gem nerf, and include a hashtag (like any “movement” nowadays).

Any of the drama surrounding this event involves Brazilian streamer, Renan Sparrow, and American streamer, DKayed. They basically asked DKayed to be part of #iwantmygems, DKayed did not side with them, and said there are bigger issues to be had in Duel Links, and things escalated from there. I won’t speak much more about this particular drama as to not stoke the flames, but things got to the point that the original poster on Reddit for #iwantmygems even apologized in behalf of the Brazilian Duel Links community that was being toxic. That is pretty telling which side took things too far here.

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Another questionable decision by Konami

It seems every time Konami does something good in the name of Duel Links, they do a few things back to reverse it. This gem nerf for Duel Island – Gladiator Beast seemingly makes no sense at all. We are currently about 3 weeks from the release of the next MiniBOX, assuming something were to drop with the conclusion of the World Championships. The recent Burning Nova BOX was strife with mediocrity, and possibly did not sell as well as other boxes. Did Konami make this gem nerf in response to people only using gems to buy the box? Or is this a long-term change for all lottery bags moving forward? In any case, Konami is making plenty of money thanks to Duel Links, and such a move just looks greedy, without any potential benefit for the company. There could have at least been some sort of PR explanation, or patch note documentation for it.

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Thousands of f2p dead

Gems at stake

The average gem gains from a previous lottery bag of 10 draws was probably around 5 gems. 15 and 10 gem rewards were very rare, and you got some 5s and 1s. The average gem gains from a lottery bag of 10 draws now is probably less than 1, with the dilution of gem reward quantities. So losing out on about roughly 4 gems per 10 draws (300 coins) definitely adds up.

My question is how many people actually took advantage of past lottery bag events. There is a set number of Duel Island duels you can do at one sitting, with potions to replenish this number. Do people literally spend all day on the phone/computer to grind out these events? I know I am not the only person who doesn’t do this thanks to other life commitments, like work or school. Even someone with unlimited free time likely has an opportunity cost in getting other things like Ranked rewards in Duel Links, or even spending time playing other games. It seems extremely strenuous to just grind The Duel Island event endlessly for extra gems.

This leads to the question of PvE cheats. Are the main angry people mining PvE events, while they are inactive or sleeping? It seems like the amount of gems missed out on isn’t that big for anyone who isn’t using a PvE cheat. To really lose out on a ton of gems, you have to be doing some kind of mining of the event for gems.

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Movements, politics, gaming communities

I personally hate social media movements and their inherent ties to politics. I actively put on a lot of Twitter modifications (e.g. changing trending tweets to Norway, muting words, muting accounts) to actively avoid politics, given my disgust of current politics from both American political parties. There was a time when Twitter was your own personal space that was not muddled by frankly, crap. I still can get behind a movement, like Net Neutrality, but I am definitely wary of any misinformation from those on “my side.”

My own opinions are largely shaped by my living in Baltimore for 10 years. The riots resulting from the death of Freddie Gray and post-response by the Baltimore government changed me. The riots themselves were mostly of a mob mentality, which the Baltimore news media and government claims were started by “outside instigators.” It was a boiling over of bad tensions from Baltimore Police and the community. Despite the honest need for an outcry regarding social justice, a lot of negative externalities happen when a city experiences wanton destruction. Not only were innocent people hurt just for being around, but there were likely bigger negative impacts for businesses and economy. Post-riot, a lot of band-aids were put on, and nothing really changed that much. A lot of stuff was done to shake up the Baltimore Police Department, and then the city experienced all-time highs in homicides in the following years. So that is why I don’t care much for movements.

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Back to Duel Links! I’m sure the organizers of #iwantmygems wanted to provoke something to get the attention of Konami. Hurting the reviews of the game and getting attention of content creators/streamers work towards that. But in the way of the mob mentality come a lot of trolls who just want to see the world burn. I personally have been around long enough in the Hearthstone Reddit community to know that many gamers can literally complain about anything. When I played Hearthstone every day, I did complain a lot about Arena. I complained with many concerns the ArenaHS Reddit community had, which most of the playerbase won’t even take a second to think about. After a while, I stopped caring, and my Hearthstone-related complaints are all but gone.

The #iwantmygems movement cares about Duel Links, too much maybe. I can see truly f2p players feeling shafted, losing their biggest funnel for gems. But at the same time, when you band under a hashtag movement, everyone starts pushing their own agenda, it becomes a muddled mess. Throw in the mob mentality of people just wanting to fuck stuff up, and you have the added toxicity that the world can do without.

Gems would be nice… but

As pointed out by many, the #iwantgems movement is a bit mislead in staking this as the biggest problem in Duel Links. It is a short-term solution that ultimately is a drop in the ocean of gem-spending demand. Just a little fix that can get you high for a couple hours in a multi-year span of drug addiction. Here are some known problems with Duel Links.

Extremely expensive

Truly f2p players have to be very selective in what they buy in order to be competitive. I was able to play Fur Hires by spending 6400 gems and $1.99. And that was being lucky with the $1.99 SR to get a 3rd Beat! That is almost a maximum supply of gems spent for a f2p deck. To play any deck with 3 of BOX UR is extremely expensive.

Useless economy

Keys and gold are useful resources up to a certain point. I remember being out of certain keys when farming gate duelists, and even being low on gold at one point. Once you hit a critical mass though, they become almost useless. To the loyal fanbase that has logged in for hundreds of days straight, the fact that these comprise a good percentage of duel or lottery rewards feels bad.

Lack of options

As suggested by Timmy Chiew on our latest podcast, there isn’t another game mode once you have hit King of Games on Ranked. Fighting standard duelist is basically a slow mining operation, and any events are basically the same but for new cards. There isn’t another game mode to invest time in.

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Harmless suggestions to fix Duel Links

Gambling system

Almost every digital card game today has a secondary resource for crafting cards. You can disenchant cards you don’t want or extras, to add towards building any card of your choice. Yu-Gi-Oh! seemingly has never had this system. And frankly, I am okay with them not having a crafting system, just to be different. I would like something to get closer to that, without being that though.

In the earliest datamines for this game, there was a D.D. Trader who was hinted to function in this regard. That idea was scrapped, but something can still be done. If there could be a system where you trade in a SR or UR from a box, throw in some resources, and get a random other SR or UR from the same box, it would be like a gambling system to work towards the card you want. While RNG will definitely screw people over, it is something to work towards. It is a way to make useless cards have some value. Also, it is a way to encourage people to buy a box to obtain those SRs/URs for transmuting.

More dream tickets

Dream tickets should be more available, at least once a month. They should be tacked on as a Ranked reward at 150 wins, which would encourage people to actually play Ranked duels. These are probably the one resource in the game that saves people most gems, without being too backbreaking to the company making money.

Draft mode akin to Hearthstone Arena

Draft mode is always difficult to balance, and it would be very difficult to do so in a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, given the gazillion archetypes and network synergies involved. Still, a useless spell/trap still has value in being set as a decoy, and a monster still has stars/attribute/type/attack/defense to be considered a monster on the board. So it could work!

As mentioned, I was really into Hearthstone Arena. In fact, I played so much Hearthstone Arena that I have too much dust. So I made enough resources for Hearthstone, just by being a little above average as an Arena player. In Hearthstone, you pay 150 gold or $1.99 to play Arena, and you roughly break even at a 3-3 run, where 0-2 wins would be a net loss. Anything 4-12 wins will net some profit. Duel Links could charge a similar fee, by doing draft mode at the cost of 100 gems, guaranteeing just a pack (50 gem value) at a 0-3 run. This would not only provide a challenge new game mode for draft fans, but also reward better players with some gem economy.

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Stream of Consciousness: Fun and Relaxing

The following details a regular night with my rotation of games.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

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I’ve actually had this game opened 5 different times during the course of the day, doing the auto-dueling and PvE events and whatnot. But after a layover of about 12 hours, I’m going to grind some of the PvP ladder! Geargias are such a good deck in this meta…

First opponent is Archfiends. Super difficult matchup, with all the milling and removal. Of course, you had your Archfiend’s Call not milled. That Wild Tornado tech to destroy your Archfiend Cavalry to get Archfiend Emperor at 3000 was pretty neat. Tough game, I wish I had the cards to play that deck.

Amazoness next, this is the archetype is making PvP fun again, for sure. Amazoness Princess down, Onslaught set. Hit, banish, special summon. Repeat a few times. Baby Tiger dead. Baby Tiger back. That was a close game, but just not enough. If only I had more than 1 Ties of the Breatheren.

Sylvans next, I thought this was the Masked HERO meta? My Geargiattacker, Pulse Mines, and Forbidden Chalice are down. I negate Komushroomo, but can’t do anything about that Guardioak. Carrot excavated, toss Rose Lover, I lose. I hate Sylvans. Back to Legend 1 I go.

Ah, a guy who hasn’t gotten more than Legend, this should end my losing streak. Fire Formation – Gyokkou, Tensu, Raven, Fire Formation – Gyokkou, Peryton, Sphynx, Beatdown. RIP.

Extra, Extra Mill/Stall Pegasus next. I can’t believe these stupid decks are back! I just wasted 10 minutes…

Oh right, here are some Sylvans again. Why did I take out my Memory Loss? I thought this was the Masked HERO meta? Oh yeah, that was last week’s meta.

Shadowverse

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Logging in for my daily reward. I definitely want to play this game more, and I realize I’ve been saying this for years. I’m still a B rank, and everyone’s probably easy pickings. My neutral Runecraft is still good when I play it. If only I didn’t have other games to play… Oh well, I ‘ll login tomorrow for another reward.

Hearthstone

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Turn on the Blizzard Launcher for Hearthstone, my Ex that I’m still awkwardly kinda friends with. I don’t really know what’s going on anymore with Hearthstone, but we had some great memories. Going to play that Warrior Arena I drafted last night.

Facing a Mage. She cleans up my board pretty well for the first half of the game, and I’m down to 13 life on Turn 7. I build a wall of taunts and Armor Up a lot. Remember when Warriors were literally unplayable in Arena? The Armor Up was the downfall? I’m here with 15 armor and 10 health, too well protected by 2 Pyroblasts and Chargers. I win.

Next up is a Priest. I do a lot of board value trading and eventually have 5 minions on the board on Turn 9. But you never expect that Spirit Lash into Thoughsteal into Blood Razor right? That Obsidian Destroyer I took care of is back… Free from Amber into Violet Wurm, the value is too much. Devour Mind and use my Commanding Shout and Fiery War Axe. I play all my cards and clear up the grubs. Another Free from Amber into Lich King, welp no point in continuing this game…

The old me would’ve found something enjoyable about playing Warrior in Arena. I don’t really know what is going on anymore.

Warframe

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Time to kick back with my new favorite game, Warframe. Such an amazing game that is so overlooked. While I am fairly bad at this game, the learning curve has to do with it. It’s DE’s way of weeding out people!

Tonight I am going to continuing some Tier 2 Spy missions. Building up my Vaykor Hek, which probably needs the Hell’s Chamber mod. Hell’s Chamber increases multishot for Shotguns. I frankly don’t even know what multishot is in Warframe. I think it gives your gun a chance to shoot extra bullets. The damage goes up a good amount with multishot mods. But do Shotguns get more out of multishot, since they are already shooting a bunch of projectiles?

While my Ivara is stabbing Corpus Crewmen and doing parkour, someone in my clan is complaining about the Razorback Armada not being here despite the bar being filled. He literally did this yesterday morning. And possibly every other time I was not logged in. I would probably say something funny, but I realized I made enemies in my last clan, which I left voluntarily. I’ll shut up. Everyone in the clan is annoyed about it. Someone even openly said that in the clan chat yesterday, but after this guy logged off. Finally, people say the Razorback Armada is not coming since DE has to remotely activate it. The guy pipes down finally.

I ran 3 Spy runs, but no Hell’s Chamber. I did get Thermite Rounds though, I guess new mods are always exciting. More Spy runs tomorrow I guess.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

I have some pressure to do well in this game, but the meta the last few hours has been very unenjoyable. I’m going to ambush some people with Ice Barriers!

After losing my only game with Ice Barriers, I go to bed.

 

 

Getting to Know the Duel Links NPCs

Getting to Know the Duel Links NPCs

Yu-Gi-Oh!, being a fairly big money name with anime, movies, manga, video games, and card game, has numerous memorable characters. These characters are put through very dark and unforgiving storylines, which allow for much introspection into characters, and opportunity for character development. Duel Links, the new mobile phone game, has been rolling out these characters for use in the game, with Maximillion Pegasus coming out recently (lol), and characters like Mokuba, Bakura, and Marik coming down the line. While these legendary duelists are the characters you get to use, and provide opportunities to win good prizes, you can’t face them all of the time. You need to spend colored keys in order to face the brand name characters typically. So, a lot of the dirty work playing Duel Links involves fighting NPCs. The NPCs in Duel Links fill many roles:

  1. Quest Completion – You need to do a certain number of things each stage to advance to the next. Since the NPCs show up freqeuntly and respawn, their typical loss will allow you to check off requirements for questing.
  2. Experience Gain – Your characters level up, and you get good rewards for this. Grinding through NPCs will get you most of your experience.
  3. Resource Gain – Depending on what score you get in your duel assessment, you’ll get chests of rewards. The NPCs will always give at least 2 chests for a win, and you can prolong a game, to get more.
  4. Practice – Of course, they are the easiest competition around, so good for practice.

Now that you see that the NPCs are quite important in Duel Links, here’s the kicker: nothing is known about them! They have no backstory, and are just in the game. No guides online have any articles on them either. So, I am here to provide images and possibly provide some backstory for each NPC in this game. Cannon fodder have feelings too!

The NPCs can broadly be broken down into 3 groups, by possible age:

  • Children
  • High schoolers
  • Young adults

Children

No better way to remind the player they are playing a children’s card game than with actual children. These kids are likely less than 10 years of age.

  • Emma – A child with a limited vocabulary, speaking with very simple words. She is not very competitive, and appears to take the game casually. Likely has not endured the rigors of life.

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  • Bella – She is a more mature girl than Emma, in that she often thanks you for dueling with her. Actually, might be the NPC who thanks you the most. Owing to being a little child, she has a limited vocabulary and speaks slowly.

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  • Mickey – This kid is just a stereotypical boy NPC. A little cocky and talkative, but with not much substance to back up his words.

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  • Nick – The most interesting of all the little kid NPCs. Nick talks about homework and Duel School a lot, which means he likely spends some time training. He speaks better than the other children, so he might be older. He also never smiles, which gives him a sense of cool confidence.

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High schoolers (teens)

The teens are easily distinguished because they wear school uniforms that the better-known characters wear. The male characters wear a blue jacket and pants, like Yugi and Joey. The female characters wear a pink jacks and blue skirt, like Tea. Because of this, one can assume these NPCs go to Domino High School, and may possibly have outside interaction with the main cast.

  • Christine – One of the most competitive NPCs around, she seeks to be Duel World Queen. Her arrogance comes out bad often, and she just seems very pushy. Also has an annoying catchphrase, “Hecks to the yeah.”

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  • Jess – She is easily distinguished with the dark grey hair. Is apparently a big admirer of all the legendary duelists, as she often says “You are the one I look most forward to facing.” Comes off as timid and lacking confidence during the matches.

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  • Hailey – Her tone of voice is more confident than that of Jess, but she talks about having fun more than her. Overall, is fairly similar to Jess, as being a lot less uptight than Christine.

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  • Andrew – The male high school counterpart to Christine. He is apparently a tactician of some sorts, referencing probabilities and numbers he ran. Is overtly cocky and wonders why he isn’t a legendary duelist. Arguably the most bitter and angry NPC. Always has a chip on his shoulder.

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  • Josh – The overconfident but ultimately harmless NPC. Has a strong front, but loses confidence quickly while losing a duel.

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  • Daniel – A chill dude of a few words. He just says “Fine, let’s duel.” He might not wanted to have gone to Duel World with all his classmates, or he didn’t really care he had to go. Maybe he was the 6th best duelist in the school, and he was selected. He didn’t really care about the honor.

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Young adults

I have no idea what age these duelists are, but they look older than the high school students, and don’t wear school uniforms. These people could be of college age or young professionals. Likely in their 20s. These characters have the least personality, and were likely created in the last minute as filler.

  • Meg – She has a weird catchphrase of “let’s get the lead out.” I had to look up what this meant, and it is something you just don’t hear people say in public nowadays. Anyways she is nice, but not much personality.

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  • Ashley – She talks about having fun a lot, like the little children. She puts more emphasis on deck building being the fun aspect of the game, so she likes that. She also wears the same outfit as Meg, but a different color.

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  • David – This guy looks chill and just has some generic lines about dueling. Really no personality at all.

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  • Jay – This guy is very similar to David, but mentions being in the fantasy world, so he might be onto something. Wears the same outfit as David, but different colors. Lacks personality like the other young adults.

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  • The Vagabond – Nobody knows much about this guy, but I assume he is an adult. He has the special challenge matches, which are the hardest duels to do at any given time and stage. His style could be an homage to Red in the Pokemon series, or other nondescript player characters. He pretty much says nothing, until the end of the game, or if he wants to challenge your friends.

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Overall, the NPCs just get by, and shuffle along Duel World, waiting to get beat by you. Eventually they get their comeuppance, when they become difficult competition and not free auto-duel wins, when you hit stage 40.

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The Fall: Personal Hearthstone Crisis

The Fall: Personal Hearthstone Crisis

I’ve always been an honest person in my life, sometimes too much to a fault. I also have difficulty hiding emotions or disguising facial expressions, and this has gotten me in trouble now-and-then. So, I’m going to say it: I’ve played the least Hearthstone I have played in a while. I started this January 2017 season very strong, getting to Rank 8 or 9 within the first week, doing well with various Miracle Rogue decks. Then things slowed down to a halt, and I find myself barely getting by the past few weeks. I must note that I have listened to the first 8 minutes of the Top Deck Kings Podcast #79 (which you should totally listen to) as of this writing, and I have paused it, until I finish all my thoughts, to prevent any cross-contamination. But I have pinpointed a few obvious reasons to my playing Hearthstone at a minimum these days.

1. Real life getting in the way

One of the perks to being a professional gamer is that gaming is your “real life.” While you may have family and friends to interact with, the job portion of real life is bundled into your gaming space. My real life is definitely getting in the way, as I am looking for a new job. While people look for jobs all the time, I was rather complacent in that area, and I am in a bit of trouble. Writing cover letters, updating resumes, and applying takes time, but the more arduous task is figuring out what I want to do in my life. This is something I am unlikely to figure out by the time I get my next job, and will be a struggle for the future. But, I am cutting out time each day to look for and apply to jobs.

2. Other games getting in the way

When I am very enthused with Hearthstone, it is the only game I play and devote time to. With other games getting mixed into my more limited gaming time, I am starting to manage my interests. Heroes of the Storm has a Lunar New Year promotion Rooster Race, with the special golden rooster mount acquired with 25 Rooster Races completed. I completely suck at HotS, but by god, I want that golden rooster mount. Valeera is also a new hero that appeared in HotS. While she is difficult to play, and I have a habit of overextending, I am a big fan of the character, and she has brought me back to the game. Competing card games Shadowverse and Duelyst have daily login rewards that require my logging in to get as well.

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Here we go

And thanks to LA-based esquire Decktech (@hsdecktech), I have been hooked on Yugi-Oh Duel Links on my phone. The whole reason I got into Hearthstone likely is tied to my interests in Yugi-Oh, and now it has been recreated as an addictive phone game. This is not unlike the Pokemon Go craze, but I do not have to brave the outdoor elements to play Duel Links. Also unlike Pokemon Go, Duel Links is actually quite the strategic and interactive game, not just walking around and throwing a ball in different angles.

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Sending people to the Shadow Realm is a full-time job.

 

3. Meta getting in the way

The above two reasons are actual excuses for me, but let’s not sugarcoat the problems affecting Hearthstone. While I am hesitant to say that the meta has gotten stale already, the game just seems very “binary” now. There still remain various competitive decks in Hearthstone, and definitely more than there were in certain points of the game’s history. But it seems like “everything” is Face Aggro (Warrior, Shaman) or Highlander (Kazakus/Reno). Classes are clustering too much it seems, and deck types don’t seem too different by class. Rogues are still doing fine in their own thing, and Jade Druid is here now and then. But Paladins and Hunters are suffering now. These problems have been discussed at length by Devs in recent articles and tweets. The main problem of course is the high rate of Shaman play, something bolstered by seemingly-continual OP cards released for the class.

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The HS Problem, courtesy of Vicious Syndicate

This is all likely some sort of bias, losing to frustrating decks like Pirate Shaman and Warrior. But truthfully, If Hearthstone didn’t have it’s problems, I would likely not be playing other games as much.

What now

Of course, what now? I actually expected possible nerfs to Small-Time Buccaneer by the end of this month, but it seems like the Devs are deciding what to do about that card, and perhaps others. I haven’t stopped playing Hearthstone, as I am still interested in completing dailies, and doing an Arena run almost nightly. But the already tepid desire I had to play Ranked has just gotten cold. If things don’t change, I will likely revert to my old self, and just play Arena until the last 2 weeks of the month, when I can pick on weaker competition. Yep, Scavenging Buzzard mode is likely for next month.