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Posts tagged “Blizzard

Top 10 Cruel Gods

GeekOut Top 10s

To be cruel is to be evil – Actually, not quite. Sometimes, you have to be kind to be cruel, or you have to be cruel to be kind. Naturally, evil entities are always pretty cruel typically – Torture, revenge via humiliation, the usual. The ten gods we list below are all cruel in their own ways, but their degrees of cruelty each vary. So read on for this week’s list, or I’m sure these deities will smite you for your indiscretions.

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Heroes of the Storm Patch 2.0 – Huge Update

For the MOBA players among us, it appears that Heroes of the Storm recently received a major overhaul. Deciding that I couldn’t just let it slide, I went to have a peek at what the huge update would have in store for us. New characters, new skins, new ways to unlock skins and characters… And a sense of revitalisation to a game that was fun, but admittedly getting a little bit on the stale side. If you’ve not seen this yet, come have a look and see what’s new.

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Top 10 – Running Gags

GeekOut Top 10s

Nothing screams in-crowd quite like a running joke. One person does or says something stupid and never gets to live it down, a weird moment of inspiration catches fire and spreads through the gang, or some reoccurring verbal tic becomes a catchphrase. Comedians know this, so do game designers, writers and artists of all types. A good gag can be brought back time and time again, recycled and replayed and somehow it only gets funnier.

Join us as we revisit some of the best recurring gags in geek culture. Ten of them to be exact. And some honourable mentions.

What can I say? We have a pattern.


Top 10

10) M’aiq the Liar – The Elder Scrolls Franchise

M’aiq has been in so many of the Elder Scrolls games now, that he’s a bit of a running joke. But more than that, he’s actually full of rather interesting lines of dialogue, depending on how you interpret his meanings. He runs seemingly aimlessly, from place to place, just sharing his stories, which is hard to believe. He’s not exactly renowned for telling the truth, hence his title.

Only just clawing his way onto our list, M’aiq is definitely an in-joke for Elder Scrolls fans. Well, if not M’aiq himself, his great, great grandson, who is also called M’aiq. This Khajiit knows more than just a few lines of dialogue and usually runs around at quick speed. He’s worth catching up to for a quick chat, so if you find him roaming around Skyrim or even any of the other TES games, stop for a chat!

9) Troy and Abed in the Morning – Community

Unlikely friends in the Greendale Community College study group, sports jock and cool kid Troy Barnes and awkwardly nerdy and fourth wall breaking Abed Nadir bond over a mutual immaturity, creativity, and generally childlike view of the world. Through the various misadventures of their time at college with the others in the group they turn the world upside down, warp genres and create entire worlds. But in their downtime they host a show, Troy and Abed in the Morning.

The catchy jingle, enthusiastic “guests” and the delightful hosts of Troy and Abed in the Morning make it a cheery and oddly grounded highlight of Community’s otherwise deeply bizarre and twisted world. The fact that the boys are making the whole thing up and there are no cameras, or that the guests often have no idea what’s going on, has absolutely no bearing on whether or not they’re enjoying themselves.

8) “Reticulating splines” & Llama fascination – The Sims and SimCity

Everyone who knows the original Maxis brand of Sims titles, extending out to SimCity, will be fondly remember the strange loading words of “Reticulating Splines”. Many of us to this very day are uncertain of what exactly that means, or even if it was just some crazy in-joke, starting from SimCity 2000. In actuality, it was literally made to be a nonsensical phrase intended to just make the Maxis guys laugh. Besides: It sounds cool.

Of course, The Sims is well known for one animal. No, not the pink flamingo! I can only be talking about the Llama, a majestic creature who can be used in everyday conversation. With an insult option for calling someone’s mother a Llama, there’s plenty of different options for how to use the Llama. These include dressing up as one to be a mascot for a team by the same name, bleating like a Llama being an illegal form of interrogation, rejecting a date by saying you need to wash your Llama. Yeah, Maxis are a strange bunch.

7) Horse Mask – Tomska

Creator of the ASDF animation shorts, Thomas “Tomska” Ridgewell is a favourite online comedian of mine. While ASDF may be his most famous series, his life action skits are as good if not better, and his recent fascination with his horse mask has added another rather disturbing layer of comedy. Meet Mrs Johnson.

Appearing in multiple, completely unrelated videos, Mrs Johnson basically a man in a dress and a horse mask who appears long enough to spout a catchphrase “I LOVE IT”. It shouldn’t be funny, but I love the surrealism of Johnson’s appearance at any moment, and it takes one hell of a dark twist when she gets her own skit entitled “Horse”. Sounds like there’s more backstory than what has been hinted at so far. Or Tomska’s just making crap up as he goes along.

6) Short Jokes – Fullmetal Alchemist

“Who you callin’ so puny he could be squished by a bug?!” – Edward Elric.

The Fullmetal Alchemist himself appears to have a running gag, well it was sooo hard to see this one coming. That’s because he is really short and due to that, various characters will allude to this. But he doesn’t like to be reminded of his physical limitations, so he will get pretty angry at anyone who dares insinuate he’s a tiny little man. After all, it’s no different to calling him a child, which he resents. He’s not.

Now, it doesn’t matter how you say it, he really doesn’t want to hear it. He won’t even accept it if you say you didn’t mean it in that way. He’s been known to psyche himself out as well, as he once crawled through some vents, stating how glad he was that he was small enough to fit in the vent, before pausing and screaming out “Aah! I just called myself a tiny little runt!” Oh Edward, we hope you never grow up.

5) Kenny Dies – South Park

Kudos to Parker and Stone for keeping a joke that should have worn out years ago fresh enough that we don’t hate them for dragging it out. This is a joke that has transformed, been cast aside and brought back, observed from every angle and yet… never dies.

The joke originates with a former classmate who was never present and was therefore presumed dead on a daily basis. In early seasons Kenny was killed off every episode only to respawn the very next week. This culminated in an entire season of the gang grieving his death until he spontaneously returned with no fanfare in the last episode. And now Kenny uses his powers for good.

Kenny’s immortal curse now has an overly elaborate backstory wrapped in eldritch mysteries, and looks set to take centre stage in the upcoming game The Fractured But Whole.

4) Wirt’s Leg – Blizzard

Wurt is a running joke in Blizzard’s Diablo franchise, but has gone further than just the Lord of Terror’s titles. He started off as a man in the original Diablo, who basically had his leg tore off by the big bad evils in the game. Then in the second and third games, you could get Wirt’s Leg as an item. In World of Warcraft, you could get Wirt’s Third Leg and in Diablo III you could also get Wirt’s Other Leg. Oo err.

Wirt has had many different legs, which have appeared over at least 5 different games, from Diablo I, II and III, World of Warcraft, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. He was also a test item in the Blizzard MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Now, don’t forget, the most important thing about Wirt’s leg is the ability to create portals to incredibly secret cow levels. They’re so secret that everyone knows about them… Because Wirt’s Leg combined with a tome of town scroll totally makes a portal.

3) Phrasing! – Archer

I think we’re all a little tired of “That’s what she said”, this isn’t the 90’s any more and frankly I think we can all agree She has a dirty mouth but doesn’t have a lot to say otherwise.

Now where do you even begin with all of the jokes in Archer? Between the creative insults, the worst passwords ever, the voicemail pranks, and LAANNAAAA there’s so much to choose from. But phrasing rather escaped the show and slipped out into the real world. It’s quick, effective, and points out an innuendo far faster than She ever could, and it spread so fast that the show not only stopped using it, but made a joke out of no longer using it.

The in-jokes of Archer spring up so naturally and organically that it makes the cast feel more real, and less written. It feels like these people are living and working together rather than being thrown together in a comedic situation. And now that series 8 has begun I have to ask…

Seriously, are we not doing phrasing any more?

2) Bart Simpson Writing on the Chalkboard – The Simpsons

Bart Simpson has started up every episode of The Simpsons with a different bit of ‘detention writing’ to put up on the chalkboard of his classroom. Sometimes, these lines he has to write are just purely silly, such as not putting gum under his desk, but other times, it’ll be reference to a real life event or celebrity. He has, in the past, mentioned presidents along with big name celebrities (although they rarely specify the full name of the celebrity).

It seamlessly blends the real with the typical cartoony values that Springfield has become customary of. We don’t watch an episode of The Simpsons without thinking of those ridiculous Simpson openings, either. Bart makes up one of the two major parts that changes episode by episode, also meaning that he’s been doing this since the late 80s. Now, in 2017, we’re going to finally see the writing on the wall for Bart and his family, as it’s officially coming to an end.

This is probably the longest running gag on this list, so if you’d like to see some of these amazing jokes for yourself, check them out at Bartsblackboard.com.

1) Stan Lee – Every Marvel Comic Universe Film

When a returning cameo is so good you have people on the edge of their seats in the cinema waiting for it you know you’re onto a winning formula. The face of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee keeps showing that face in as many films based on his properties as he possibly can, and he’s escalated from a quick and unsubtle look at the camera to being the centrepiece for some of the MCU’s funniest moments. We’ve seen it all from a brief appearance as Hugh Hefner to a librarian obliviously sorting through returns while Spidey and Lizard tear each other to shreds behind him.

The prevailing theory is that Stan is actually playing a recurring role rather than just popping up as a friendly face, Uatu the Watcher, an ancient being tasked with witnessing the most important events in the universe. The kind of power that would give him might explain how his presence spans the cinematic, television and animated aspects of the Marvel property, as well as popping up across the Galaxy, meaning he may well play some kind of important role in the upcoming Infinity Wars.

Throughout 2016, fans waited on tenterhooks as the grim spectre of death stalked one beloved celebrity after another, wondering with each cameo if it could be his last. Of course if he doesn’t turn out to be an actual immortal, then he’ll always live on through his works.


Honourable Mentions

While many jokes will outlive their series and outreach their audience, there are a few that will remain as a calling card for those niche little groups and die-hard fans. Some just fizzle. But let us not forget them, but let us also not list every single one of them here, we’ve got a word count to keep to and nowhere near the man power to list them all. Here’s some honourable mentions.

Ghost Nappa/Nappa Haunting – DragonBall Z Abridged

We’ve mentioned it before and we’ll mention it again – We love abridged series, so much so that today at the GeekOut Bristol Meetup (8th April 2017), we’re hosting an abridging challenge with some great top prizes. Now that we’ve shamelessly plugged this, let’s continue with this entry.

Ghost Nappa is a character that was dreamed up from the pure stupidity that is Nappa. In the actual series of DragonBall Z, he was quite an imposing character, with a lot of seriously deadly skills (at least early in the show). After Vegeta ruthlessly despatches him, Vegeta cements himself as the real bad guy here. However, on DragonBall Z abridged, it seems like Nappa’s personality has an everlasting effect.

Out pops Ghost Nappa, complete with a theme song and all! He’s really damn annoying and he haunts Vegeta occasionally on the Namekian saga. Even in death, it seems like Vegeta can’t get rid of this once proud, but rather unintelligible Saiyan warrior.

Chinese Swearing – Firefly

How do you get around censorship when you really want to swear liberally? Well, a host of sci-fi series would suggest making up your own swearwords that don’t appear on any list, but Joss Whedon’s verse had a rather cunning addition to its backstory that allowed for as much cussing and grotesquely creative insults as you could want, all able to be shown to an American audience during dinner, because it’s all in Chinese.

So it may not be hilarious, but it’s a running bit that adds flavour to an awesome world and deepens its history. When Mal launches into a long string of unintelligible syllables we all know what’s going on, and can’t help but imagine that somewhere there’s native speakers in the audience either covering the ears of the children in the room, or wincing at Nathan Fillion’s wooden and badly pronounced delivery.


 

Some jokes outstay their welcome, get old, and get stale. And yet somehow you guys never seem to tire of our Top 10’s. That’s fine, we love making them, probably more than you guys enjoy reading them. And just like every week you get to pick which Top 10 we discuss next week.

What jokes tickle your funny bone no matter how many times you hear them? What are your favourite running gags? Tell us in the comments or Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

Hey, you there, I see you like our Top 10’s! That’s great, but we need your help now. We are thinking of writing up our Top 10’s as an eBook. Interested? Let us know what you would like to see in our Top 10 eBook!


Top 10 – Ice Attacks/Moves

GeekOut Top 10s

Oh the weather outside is frightful and the fire is sooo delightful, when there’s simply no place to go… Oh, who put this massive ice wall outside of my house?

Yes, that’s right, we’re looking at the Top 10 Ice Moves & Attacks this week, a very specific kind of attack. The only rules we have for this is that it has to be the actual ability that is ice. It needn’t be aggressive, but the user needs to have been able to manipulate ice to some capacity. Therefore, we won’t be allowing a weapon that’s made of ice, unless it requires them to maintain its iciness.

FREEZE! You need to cool off… Er, no more puns. Let’s get on with this list.


Top 10

10) Smash (Ice Climbers) – Super Smash Bros. Brawl

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Notoriously cute, the Ice Climbers are a duo of eskimos who have teeny tiny little hammers in their hands. Named Popo (in blue) and Nana (in pink), they come from a game released back in the mid 80s simply called Ice Climber. Normally, you’d play as Popo, with Nana being controlled by the CPU – and in Smash Bros, this is no different. You control Popo, with Nana mimicking Popo’s actions.

They make this list, but only just, as their ultimate ability in Smash Bros. is to summon a huge mountain of ice. When their opponents touch it, they can freeze up completely, becoming immobilised and being moved around by physics alone. Their ability however is all they really have going for them as they are by far one of, if not the hardest character to learn in the game. Nevermind little Eskimos, you’re still amongst the cutest characters in game.

Uh, forgive me, Pikachu and Jigglypuff…

9) Wall of Frost – Magic: the Gathering

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Pretty much a must have card for any blue or blue mixture deck. If you need to buy yourself some time to drop some cruel trick on your opponent, want to give them pause for thought when deciding whether or not to attack, or want them to be left wide open while you slip past their big guns, there is no reason not to want a wall of frost in between you and them. Crazy low cost, high toughness, and freezes any creature that touches it.

Only one MtG card in the game is more useful and/or iconic, the indestructible (and flying) Fog Bank, but that barely needs a whif of damage before it’s dispersed. The Wall of Ice is not only one hell of a nuisance for your enemies, they’re also tough to shift. So sit back, relax behind your freezing fortress, and counter every attempt to pull it down with all that mana you’ve left untapped.

8) Hyoten Hyakkaso/Frozen Heavens Hundred Flower Funeral – Bleach

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As captain of the 10th brigade, Toshiro Hitsugaya is in possession of one of the most devastatingly powerful Zanpakuto in all of Soul Society. In the sword’s final released form – Daiguren Hyorinmaru/Grand Crimson Lotus Ice Ring – the sword forms a kind of armour formed of ice, in the shape of a dragon, sculpted around him. This in itself would be awesome enough, but it’s still technically an item, not a power. Hyoten Hyakkaso is a power only available to Daiguren Hyorinmaru.

A hole opens in the sky, and it begins to snow. Everywhere the flakes touch their sprouts a flower with petals of razor sharp ice crystals. The snowflakes settle on any surface they contact, such as his enemy’s weapon and body, finally encasing them fully in a tomb of ice. This is not his only power to encase his enemy in ice, but it is the most inescapable, insidious, and devastating power he weilds…

Almost.

7) Ice Block – Warcraft

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Probably the most iconic Mage move bar for the mighty powerful Pyroblast, Ice Block is a highly defensive move, allowing the Mage chance to get some much needed survivability. This is a move mostly used in Player vs Player combat in World of Warcraft, Ice Block is best used when you can get some backup from other players on your team, so you can then release yourself back into the middle of a group fight.

However, Ice Block has been in more than just World of Warcraft; it’s been around in Warcraft lore for a very long time. It’s by far the most important survivability move a Mage can have. Still, it was later ‘replaced’ due to talents, but it’s still in game, so don’t worry fans of Vanilla!

6) Mei’s Ice Wall – Overwatch

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Let me be honest; I didn’t see this coming myself. However, when we were considering the ice moves and attacks, this was actually a much improved version of Wall of Frost from Magic: the Gathering, simply because it’s portable! It’s a great big wall in the way of the opponent’s, blocking Mei and her teammates from incoming pain. It must be great to hide behind a wall of frost.

Mei dresses in warm clothing, but she’s not an Eskimo. Nope, she’s Chinese in nationality, but it seems she learned how to be cold as ice (HAH) in the process. Her Ice Wall has 5 pillars, each with its own 500 health. To be fair; that’s a lot of health for a basic wall that can be put up anywhere. Lasting for 4.5 seconds, this is a very strategic support ability which can change the pace of a game.

5) Blizzard – Pokemon

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Oh we had a lot to choose from here.

Actually it came down to two of the best ice-moves from Gen 1, but while Aurora Beam is beautiful, clever, and has rather nice lingering effects, Blizzard is so much more iconic, and frankly it was the first move to spring to mind when we even considered the list. Incredible power, high accuracy (because you can’t outrun the storm!!!) and a chance to freeze your opponent where they stand, it’s about as icy as you can get.

In Red/Blue versions, blizzard is surprisingly only available to two pokemon, Jynx and Arcticuno. It has only been out-weighed by a couple of ice-moves from Gen 5, and has long been the crown jewel of an ice-type’s moveset, and is a great TM to add to your high-powered team members.

4) Mr. Freeze’s Freeze Gun – Batman

We all probably remember the Arnold Schwarzenegger rendition of Mr. Freeze, as it is highly memorable unto itself, but let’s not take away from the character here. Mr. Freeze is one of Batman’s most famous enemies, as noted by the fact he makes up part of the Rogue’s Gallery. Often depicted as having fallen victim to an industrial accident whilst trying to save his wife’s life, he’s a tragic character who is prone to saying things like “Chilled to perfection.”

One-liners and Arnold’s performance aside, Mr. Freeze has one of the most powerful ice-manipulation weapons I think I’ve just about ever seen. He just misses out on our top 3, to which we have some real crazy abilities, however this gun is elegant in its simplicity. Able to freeze an opponent completely, the ice gun is one weapon you do not want to get on the wrong side of.

Sheesh, talk about giving your enemy the cold shoulder!

3) Heat Death – “Iceman” Bobby Drake

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X-Men founding member Bobby Drake’s ability to turn water vapours into solid blocks of ice is fairly well documented, and his distinctive power to change his entire form into ice. By and large he does this by slowing the vibrations of water molecules to reduce them to freezing temperature. It’s a rather useful skill, to be sure, but lesser known fact is that Bobby is reducing the vibration of molecules to a complete stop.

The universe strives to reach equilibrium, ending all energy and motion and reaching a state of absolute zero, a terrible expanse of darkness, nothingness. Now, Iceman’s ability can accelerate the process in its own little way, but at his peak of power he can actually bring about the total heat death of the universe, classifying him as an Omega Level mutant. A mutant capable of bringing about the end.

2) Ice Form – Skyrim

Before I start this one, please do watch the above video. No, no, seriously – I’ll wait right here. You go on now. Okay, has your laugh-tank been depleted? Great, let’s continue.

Ice Form is a rather powerful shout in the smash hit, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You assume the role of the Dragonborn, a powerful entity who is able to speak in the language of dragons. Your role is to go and kill the dragons that have returned, take their souls and use their souls as a fuel to power your Shouts. Of course, there’s a bit more story to it, but that’s the jist of what being Dragonborn is about.

Ice Form is one of these shouts. You shout at your enemy until their frozen, however this is where the move stops being a cool move. It crystalises into something that breaks the game in the funniest of ways. Well, breaks enemies and yourself in the weirdest way anyway. If Ice Form is shouted on you or an opponent, the body hits the ground in a bizarre way… And the game can’t physics any more.

It forgets how gravity works and it thinks that you’re going to go on a jet-speed flying trip around the universe. Because, y’know, Bethesda Quality? (We do love you, Bethesda. No harm meant~) Oh and if you want one more video, check out the above.

1) Sub Zero’s Ice Clone – Mortal Kombat

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Whether Sub Zero is the more popular MK character than Scorpion, that’s another article in itself. However, let us discuss one of his more potent and versatile moves, a statue of himself made of solid ice. If your opponent so much as touches the clone they become flash-frozen, leaving them wide open for a follow up attack, but so what? They can just move around it, right? Well Sub Zero can actually throw the frosty figuring straight at his enemies, making it far harder to simply side-step without getting frozen. If Sub Zero has a clone out and suffers a deadly injury? No worries, you were beating up the clone this whole time and I was over here staying really still.

While some may feel the ice puddle is more memorable, or the tombstone teleport looked cooler, I say that leaving a perfect copy of your body that’s cold enough to freeze a human being fully on mere contact is too cool to pass up and you can just throw it at them. It’s a power shared by both incarnations, Bi-Han (now Noob Saibot) and Kuai Liang, and is way more awesome than making the ground a bit slippy, and for that matter, any other ice-powers you care to mention.


Honourable Mentions

Have you had the time to cool off, or are you feeling a little cold from all of these puns? Well, Icy that you need to have some time out, so here’s some honourable mentions for this list. These are our picks for honourable; not getting to the main list due to their lack of oomph.

Ice Crown – Adventure Time

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More of an object than a move or power, but if we’re discussing icy powers then it’s absolutely worth a nod. At the cost of your memories and sanity, the bearer of the crown of ice created by the first of the Ice Elementals – Urgence Evergreen – gains immortality, and complete access Evergreen’s magical powers. Bolts of ice are the most basic skill, but the icecrown’s powers seem quite limitless, including freezing the entire world for 400 years without the need for a living bearer.

Shaping and creating ice into whatever shape is useful to the host is a given, shields and weapons with which the host actually possesses greater ability than with normal weapons, a skill called “Fridjitzu”, weather shaping (although only one type of weather), facial hair based flight, and dominion over the ice-based life that seems to occupy the snowier regions of Ooo. All in all there’s no one power the crown possesses that’s of particular remark, but it is remarkable in itself in how it parasitically dominates its wearer.

Ice Man’s Ice Slasher- Megaman

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One of the original Robot Masters, Ice Man is one of those bosses that you can’t help but remember from the original Megaman title. However, he wasn’t a final boss or anything; he was just one of the Robot Masters. He was pretty good too – Design wise and ability wise as well. Designed by Dr. Light, he was created for good, until Dr. Wily got ahold of him and the other Robot Masters and reprogrammed him with the intent to take over the world, Pinky.

However, Ice Man’s main ability is Ice Slasher, which when used by Iceman takes the form of a large sword made of ice, which is spat from the mouth. On touch, this can freeze anyone. When you defeat him, you acquire this ability, but for Megaman it turns into an arrow head for… reasons? Perhaps more bafflingly is the fact that Ice Man’s Ice Slasher is the most effective move against Fire Man. No, that’s not just some physically fit guy in flame retardant clothing, stop it.


Ah, we’re finally sat by the fire now, able to heat back up after this rather frosty reception you’ve given us. I mean, just because we’ve been making ice puns throughout the whole of this list doesn’t mean you should be so cold! Nevertheless, we’re here to do a damn good job of these Top 10’s and so we hope you’ll now pick our next Top 10 which will be ready next Saturday. You might notice a theme with the lists this month!

That’s it for this week, hopefully you’re going to stick around through this festive season and let us know what you thought about the above Top 10 list. Do you agree with Sub Zero being our number one choice on this list? For the record, between Joel and Timlah, the choice of Sub Zero was 100% undenied. We could not justify anything else that made our list getting the number one slot, but the Ice Form shout getting number two only made it there through game-breaking comedy. Was that the right move? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

 


Heroes of the Storm – First Impressions

Blizzard sure do know how to make a game, but do they know how to strike the right balance between gameplay and characters stats? Timlah discusses his recent experiences on Heroes of the Storm, Blizzards take on the MOBA genre.

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Heroes of the Storm was released by Blizzard Entertainment on June 2nd 2015 as an alternative to the MOBA game market. Whilst it’s been quite some time since its release, I’ve always been sceptical about the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) scene. Thanks to the popularity of a few key games in the scene, it’s known to be quite an aggressive side to gaming, with communities that can be rather boisterous to say the least. It’s also one of the genres that manages to transcend video games and become something more: it’s an officially recognised sport.

Whilst I’m still not fully sold on all MOBAs, I recently was introduced to Heroes of the Storm and on my first play through of it, I was not a fan. I played a character I knew relatively well: Illidan Stormrage. I am an ex-WoWaholic and I’m proud to admit I loved that game. I loved what World of Warcraft represented, I loved the community and what we achieved as a unit. I left as I didn’t like some of the end game story telling later down the line, making a lot of the narrative confused – But the fact of the matter remained – I knew Illidan.

Then I played Heroes of the Storm and I was introduced to a character I honestly didn’t feel like I knew. I remember my times in Warcraft 3, I remember being a Demon Hunter. I remember the Warglaves of Azinoth and I remember him being banished to Draenor. But in Heroes of the storm, he felt clunky, he felt uninspiring and, frankly, not worth my time. It wasn’t I that was not prepared, but the hunter himself was not prepared.

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Then in December, Heroes of the Storm was booted up again. This time, I was greeted with a big list of characters I could choose from. I was unsure as to who to pick, so I at first thought “I’ll go with who I know!” I remembered Illidan Stormrage and how he sat there, looking so menacing, but not really being much of a threat at all. I thought back about the low damage output… And then I thought “No, let’s try a different character”. So I went and saw Patches, who was an Abomination from Warcraft. I knew what they were about, so I was happy to choose him, until I saw the character who ended up making me understand the game.

The Butcher, a character who is large, lumbering and a little bit powerful, from Diablo III. I was already a fan of The Butcher as I fondly remember the boss battle as one of the more fun battles in the game, with him dashing around his arena, setting the ground on fire and so on. When I read his abilities, he read just like he did in Diablo III. So, like a well thought out Pokemon battle, I chose The Butcher and I went into a game with real people.

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Although this picture was taken in the tutorial, not against people!

I barely remembered the controls, so my partner spoke me through what to do, which was very useful. Once I understood what was going on though, I found I was able to get a kill in. I remembered the rush I used to get with PvPing on World of Warcraft… And then after a small amount of getting used to the controls and the way The Butcher played, I managed not just a kill, not just a double kill – but a Triple Kill! I felt invincible. Then I died, but that was because I was already on low health at this point and was being foolhardy.

Since then, I’ve gone and found a way to get Heroes of the Storm working through WINE (though it is incredibly fiddly). I’m able to play games with my partner who, I’m not going to lie, more or less carries me because of my penchant to just run around hitting things that look scary to me. I’m even playing as other characters: I found Malfurion and especially Elite Tauren Chieftain to be right up my street as well. Hey, I even managed to win some games by myself against other players!

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Heroes of the Storm offers a pretty comprehensive tutorial section in the game, which also encourages you to complete it. On completion, you get rewards (in game gold) which can be used to buy more characters. This is how the free game makes its money: Some people will prefer to spend their real money to unlock characters, but as a positive, it’s not game breaking. It’s not Pay To Win, nor is it Pay To Play. In fact, I like the rotation system!

Let me explain what the rotation system is: Free to play users (such as myself) get to play the game with a specific rotation of characters. You only get a handful of characters you can play as to begin with and it’s based upon time. As you level up your Player Level, you are able to unlock more slots for these free rotations. This means you have a wider selection of characters you can play as at any time. But you do need to play the game a fair bit to unlock these rotation slots. It’s a good way to keep players playing and it’s done the job with me.

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As of time of writing, in just a few hours, I’m already player level 7 and I can tell my Elite Tauren Chieftain and I are going to be just fine. He’s almost level 5 already, which means I’ll get a 200 gold boost when he hits that level. In game gold can be spent instead of real money to unlock characters, as well as skins, outfits and mounts. The E.T.C. character cost a mere 2,000 gold, which you obtain by playing just a few games and doing the tutorials!

If I had to make any criticisms about the game, there are some characters who feel severely underpowered. Take Arthas as an example: With the exception of a few of his crowd control moves, I have yet to see him as a threat. As the E.T.C., I am able to rush in to the middle of a group of enemies, knock them all back and single out specific players or minions. I can keep myself alive with my guitar solo (All of E.T.Cs powers are “Rock-Based” moves), then deal good damage with my axe (guitar). Arthas swings for way less damage with Frostmourne than the E.T.C. hits with his guitar, which is shocking! However each character fills a specific niche, which it isn’t usually exclusively locked into.

Source: PixelDynamo

Image Source: PixelDynamo

In a few weeks’ time, I hope to review this game over on 1001Up, so keep an eye on our social media pages to see if/when that goes live. I’ve been using the account I set up a while back for Hearthstone with the guys over there, which is “Timlah1001Up”. Wanna have a few battles alongside a guitar wielding maniac Tauren? Great! I’d love to see you on there. Let me know what you think about Heroes of the Storm and MOBAs in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

EDIT: Before this article was published, I got to player level 10 and E.T.C is about level 7 or 8, with Malfurion at level 5. Send help.


Hearthstone – Balance

One of the major draws of a good card game is the balance of the card game. This article will come off as sour grapes, but damn it there is an obvious balance issue going on here! Within balance, there are several really important aspects to pay attention to. You have to be fair to new players by giving them a deck that doesn’t necessarily reward them for having just common and uncommon cards, but at least gives them a relatively fair footing.

With this in mind, I recently started to play Hearthstone again, a brilliant card game by Blizzard Entertainment. My problem is however, it had been several months since I had last truly picked the game up and I felt as if I had been left eating dust that has been collected up behind all of these monstrous new cards around the place. I even had a 9 match losing streak.

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A friend of mine introduced me to the newest cards, these Mech cards which were incredibly powerful. They had an ability called Spare Parts on some of them, which gave different effects dependent on the card. But the thing that infuriated me is that it felt, perhaps wrongly, that some of the core mechanics had been changed (even if it was just slightly.)

I play Hearthstone as a Shaman and in the past, I used to be alright at it. I used to get as far as Rank 10-12 with relative ease. This time however, I picked up and turn 2 comes around – the Hunter in front of me uses The Coin, a well known card which is given for free to the second player… and on turn 2, he summons a Random animal which happens to be a 4/4 with taunt.

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On turn 1, he summoned one of these dreaded Spare Parts. For 1 mana, he had a 2/1 (not so unfair) but then he also gained one of these Spare Parts cards when that minion died. The Spare Part he received was a card that, again for 1 mana, allowed him to return a minion to his hand. But how is that fair? How something like that happen so easily… and normally?

This isn’t to say there aren’t immensely overpowered cards in Magic: the Gathering, either. I know there are ridiculously overpowered cards but the official tournaments set up by Wizards of the Coast at least bans those cards from competitive play. One of the problems Hearthstone has for me is that, so long as you have the card, you can play it.

So for 3 mana, you get a 4/4 with taunt, but it obviously isn’t a guaranteed taunt 4/4. Yes, it required use of The Coin, but by Turn 2 the Hunter had a 4/4 with taunt on the table! This means that I had to kill that thing off to get over to the Hunter (with my monsters at least), or I had to incapacitate it in some way. As a shaman, this wouldn’t be such an issue, if I weren’t limited to just 2 Hexes. Hex in hearthstone turns a target into a 0/2 Frog with taunt. Needless to say, I didn’t have anything like this and the creature I used to hurt it got killed, before it just got re-healed or he used the Spare Parts he received to just return it to his hand and replay it (which he did later). He played the game perfectly fairly… But the game felt broken to me.

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By turn 5, he had almost killed me due to effects like this. He used these Spare Parts to his advantage (which is perfectly fine), but there was nothing I could do in the process. I’ve never been lucky enough to get any legendaries, let alone any epics for my Shaman. It’s made me think… Perhaps it is time to hang up the boots of the Shaman and just play as a Warrior or a Rogue. Heck, when I switched over to my Rogue, who I haven’t even gotten any special cards for, I had 3 wins with her.

Perhaps this is World of Warcraft vanilla syndrome: Where all of the other classes gets powerful and the Shamans get left behind. I hope this is not the case, but if you pick up Hearthstone and you’ve not played for a while, I implore you to fight casual fights for a while until you can get enough gold and enough booster packs. It seems like you might need to play this game regularly to maintain any sort of skill.

Hearthstone TrophyOh but nevermind… Blizzard said there were connection problems for European players last week, which was when I played… So they’ve given us European players two free boosters. Perhaps my luck will change!? Thanks to Blizzard for addressing situations professionally by looking after their players. It also helps keep us players in, hook, line and sinker!

Do you agree with what I’ve noticed about the balance of the game? Do you think I was just incredibly unlucky and that I should just keep going? I’m going to keep going with it regardless, but I was staggered with how suddenly weak and vulnerable my deck suddenly felt. I had to change some things in it immediately and even then it wasn’t perfect.

As always though, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think about Hearthstone. Do you like the new Mech cards? Do you think they could be more balanced or is the balance just right?


Rezzed 2015 Gallery

This is a no-nonsense, no chat needed post, showing off the venue, the people, the sights and the merch of Rezzed 2015. If you see yourself in any of these posts, or just want to comment on anything you see, as always put your comments in the section below. Alternatively, chat with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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