Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
 
Activision Blizzard sold to Microsoft

If you have watched the incredible fall from grace that Activision Blizzard had over the last few years, you were probably wondering "where will it end?". Now we know! It ends with Activision Blizzard being sold to Microsoft for $68.7 billion. All-cash deal, Microsoft had that kind of money just lying around. My take on it: They overpaid. Whatever made Blizzard great back then is gone, and they pay big money for a rather empty shell.


Monday, January 17, 2022
 
Clank! Legacy - Acquisitions Incorporated - first thoughts

As I mentioned previously, my wife and me invited friends over to play a board game they got, Scythe. Between the 4 of us we were vaccinated 12 times, so we decided that the risk of sitting around a table was manageable. Over the last two years there were a lot of times where getting together with friends wasn't advisable, so a "Scythe & Pizza" evening felt really good. And so we parted with "we should do that again", and looking at other board games.

At first I thought we could play Roll Player Adventures (RPA), as this is currently the most played game in my household. There are however a number of flaws with that plan: RPA has a system to "save" the campaign when you need your table for something else and have to pack everything back into the box. But it doesn't have a system to run more than one campaign at a time. RPA has game trays that allow you to store your deck between play sessions, but if you wanted to play multiple campaigns you would need to write down all the cards you have, sort those cards back into their market decks, and then reassemble your deck at the start of the next session of this campaign. And then RPA involves a lot of reading text aloud in English, which isn't perfect when 3 of the 4 players are native French speakers.

So I was looking around for other games to play, and discovered Clank! Legacy - Acquisitions Incorporated. Not only does the game exist in a French version, it also turned out that the French version was the best option to get the game for me. According to the official website, the English version is "currently only available in the USA". Imported versions are sold at inflated prices over here in Europe. I was thinking of just buying one from Amazon.com, but between shipping cost and added VAT that wouldn't have been cheaper either. So paying €120 for a French version, when the American version MSRP is $110 was still the cheapest option. So, problem of reading story text aloud: Solved, as long as it isn't me who has to do the reading. My French accent is horrible!

Now Clank! Legacy will be my first full legacy style board game. These are board games which change over time. Cards can be "destroyed", and that literally means that you are supposed to rip them up. Self-adhesive stickers can be applied to the board or to cards, and they don't come off again. We had a bit of that in Gloomhaven, but as destroying expensive game material makes me uneasy, I bought a set of removable stickers. And in Gloomhaven you can still play the early scenarios again. There is no such option for Clank! Legacy. It really is a game in which you play a campaign of 10+ sessions which constantly add new rules, modify the game map with stickers, and require you to remove certain cards permanently from the game once used, whether you rip them up or not. At the end the game is some sort of final state, in which it could theoretically be played repeatedly. But then everything story-related, and all the fun of modifying the game, is over. It is possible that I'll throw the game away at that point. The last time I got rid of some board games, I donated them to a local board game club, but that obviously isn't a great option for a legacy game.

What makes me more open towards the idea of playing a board game through and then throwing it away is the realization that I am increasingly having a storage problem for my board games. The kind of game I play usually comes in a rather large box, and where do you store all those? According to my collection tab on BoardGameGeek, I already own 38 board games (counting expansions), and have 11 more preordered from various crowdfunding services. That is a lot less than I have Steam PC games, but Steam games don't take up any shelf space. With a lot of interesting new games being released all the time, and prices going up, the reality of things is that you don't necessarily play an expensive board game often enough to get its cost to below $10 per session.

So why it may feel strange to write with a permanent marker on my board game, apply permanent stickers to the map and rulebook, and rip up cards (hmmm, maybe I just put them aside), I think I should try with Clank! Legacy. It somehow fits the Acquisitions Incorporated style, being both very commercial and not very serious.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022
 
Canon i-SENSYS LBP623Cdw Color Laser Printer

I don't like inkjet printers. Maybe they have become better since the last time I owned one, but at least in the past I had a lot of problems when not using the printer for a while that the ink tended to dry in the nozzle. The other problem is that ink on a document can smear with a bit of humidity: I had a lot of problems when I tried to print D&D character sheets, and just the humidity of my hands resting on them while filling other stuff in with pencil was enough to smear them. So since a long time I have been using laser printers instead. And a bit over a decade ago I bought a HP Color LaserJet CP1515n, which was my first color laser printer. It served me well for a long time, but lately it has been showing its age. I think the problem is that paper in a printer is moved by various rubber rollers, and over the years the rubber is getting harder and loses grip.

When my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said I could use a new color laser printer. That didn't work out. We went to the local big box electronics store, and they had run out of laser printers. Global chip shortage, shipping problem, yada yada yada. Even on Amazon most affordable models were out of stock. Fortunately that situation improved after Christmas, and I bought a Canon i-SENSYS LBP623Cdw Color Laser Printer from Amazon now. Which was a mistake, because I hadn't checked the MSRP and didn't notice that the third party seller on Amazon Marketplace actually overcharged me. I could have gotten the printer for cheaper directly from Canon.

Apart from overpaying for the printer, I am quite happy with it. Not only is it a lot faster than the older HP model. It also has automatic 2-sided printing; on my old printer I needed to print the odd pages first, put the paper back in the tray without messing up the orientation, and then print the even pages to get 2-sided. Furthermore the Canon printer has WiFi, and was very easy to set up with the network. There was software on a CD, which I installed, but on my laptop I actually managed to connect to the printer without using any specialized software or drivers. Network printing is now much easier for me. Print quality is also very good, which is why I bought this particular model: It came out first in a test of the German Stiftung Warentest, a federal consumer protection agency that runs comparative tests of consumer goods.

The only thing that I don't like about the new printer is that it only tells you the fill level of your toner cartridges in percent. It doesn't give you an estimate on number of pages remaining, like my HP printer did. I did notice that the toner cartridges that came with the printer were marked "starter", and assume that they don't contain much toner. So I already ordered a set of 4 high capacity toner cartridges, and this time I checked that they were actually cheaper on Amazon than on the Canon website. And yes, the MSRP of 4 toner cartridges is higher than the MSRP of the printer they go in, which is why the new printer comes with reduced capacity cartridges. But then, the high capacity toner cartridges are estimated to last for about 2,300 pages, which is plenty for home use. And unlike ink, they don't dry up. So I did buy the original Canon cartridges; you can get "compatible" cartridges for less money, but it is a bit of a gamble whether they actually work, and in case of problems neither Canon nor the cartridge vendor will accept any liability.

Monday, January 10, 2022
 
Calling MMORPGs "metaverse" doesn't make them work any better

Once upon a time, around the end of the previous millenium, I and a lot of other people were extremely hopeful about the future of virtual worlds. They seemed to have unlimited potential, being far more than just games, but actual places where we could live better, virtual lives. The hope, the hype, and the attention grew over the years, with big successes like World of Warcraft. For me the peak of all that was about the day before Warhammer Online released. WAR not only was a lot less successful than the hype would have suggested, it also taught us that a lot of the things we had hoped would be possible in fact weren't. After this, MMORPGs seemed to become more and more reduced in scope to some sort of "WoW clones". Player numbers declined, interest waned, and at some point I had to remove "MMORPG" from the name of my blog, because it simply didn't interest anybody anymore.

Fast forward to 2022, and a lot of people around either are too young to remember 2008, or hadn't been all that involved in MMORPGs at the time. And suddenly we get Mark Zuckerberg changing the name of his company from Facebook to Meta, and investment funds spending millions of dollars on virtual real estate. The combination of virtual worlds with blockchain and crypto currency technologies is the new promised land, and social media are full of people who believe that we will live better, virtual lives in the metaverse.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. For anybody like me who was there when the MMORPG bubble grew and then burst, the metaverse bubble growing looks remarkably familiar. And so do the arguments used to convince people that this is the next big thing. The fallacy is also the same: It turns out that people are not actually living in virtual worlds, they only visit them from time to time. In the real world, real estate has value, because people are forced to live somewhere, and space is limited. In virtual worlds space is unlimited, and people don't actually need any space on a permanent basis, because they can simply log out of the world. That is why virtual worlds always look deserted, because the number of concurrent users is necessarily much smaller than the number of total users. (Except on launch day, but then the servers are down anyway.)

Virtual shopping malls are inherently inferior to real shopping malls. You might be able to "try on" virtual clothes on your avatar, but just because those clothes look great on your avatar doesn't mean they'll actually fit you if you then order the real version sent to your house. While shopping virtually, you can't hop over to the food court when you become a bit hungry. And it is hard to meet friends there and hang out when they might be in a different metaverse, or simply not logged on.

Like everything else related to crypto currency, this is part of the "bigger fool" theory of investment: It doesn't matter whether something you invest in has any actual value, as long as you are able to find a bigger fool to sell the dream to at an even higher price. That works reasonably well in a world of low inflation and surplus money. But there are strong indicators that the era of low inflation is over. Inflation and higher interest rates force people to reconsider where the actual value is, and that tends to end badly for speculative investments in pipe dreams. A metaverse designed by Mark Zuckerberg will end up being a prettier form of Facebook, and not a better, virtual world we all live in.

Sunday, January 09, 2022
 
Scythe

Friends of mine got the board game Scythe for Christmas, and we are planning to play it together. Scythe is highly rated on BoardGameGeek, but I never played it, and I don't have a physical copy. I did however have Scythe: Digital Edition in my large library on unplayed Steam games. So I installed that one and played a few games, in order to understand the rules and basic strategies.

It turns out that Scythe is very different from what it appears to be on first sight. If you look at the artwork and the board, you could think that this is a game in which you build giant mechs and conquer a hex-based board in a kind of 4X gameplay. In reality a game of Scythe has about 20 turns, and in only about 2 of them you get involved in any combat. You mostly use your mechs to transport your workers, and only the first two combat wins actually count for victory points. If you fight more, you lose victory points, and potentially the game. Also you lose the power and cards you need for fighting when fighting, so every battle makes you weaker and a potential target for others. In the end you learn to avoid battle unless absolutely necessary.

What Scythe is at its heart is an engine-building Euro game (cleverly disguised with American game style thematic elements). Every turn you need to select one of four columns on your player board. Each column has a top action and a bottom action, but the top action is relatively cheap, while the bottom action costs more resources. The basic strategy is to plan your moves in a way that you can do both, which would be the most efficient way to progress. Every bottom action, when done a certain number of times, gives you one star and the game ends when a player has 6 stars. There are enough different possibilities to gain stars that you could win a game without the 2 stars you could potentially gain by winning a fight. And you could even win without having 6 stars, you just need the most victory points at the end and another player ending the game by reaching his 6th star somewhere.

The base game has 5 starting nations and 5 player boards for a possible 25 combinations. An expansion increases that to 7 nations and 7 player boards, for 49 combinations. That produces quite some replay value for the average player. Hardcore players know the winning strategies for all of these combinations, and at least the first moves happen without any interaction with other players, making these known openings a sure bet. Later in the game you can have some attacks, and thus unpredictable outcomes, although there are very few random elements in the game other than what cards you draw. Ultimately there is a lot less player interaction than one might think. Depending on your preferred board game style, that might be a positive point or a negative one. At the very least the game is pretty, has a good table presence, and works well, sometimes even elegantly. It's a good compromise if you don't want to play purely abstract complex Euro games, but don't want to play fully thematic and somewhat random American style games either.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2022
 
Post Godwin

In 1968 on US national television a political debate between conservative intellectual (those were still fashionable back then) William F. Buckley Jr. and progressive intellectual Gore Vidal took place. That debate nearly came to blows when Vidal called Buckley a Nazi. Buckley, having been in the military, albeit only stateside, during World War II had a view of himself as having fought against the Nazis. The idea that right-of-center political views could be equated with fascism and Nazis was visibly new to him, and upset him greatly. I think that progressives who watched this counted that as a victory, and the usage of this hyperbole spread.

By 1990, the early years of the internet, Mike Godwin promulgated Godwin's Law, the idea that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches 1. At the time a corollary of Godwin's Law was that, when a Hitler comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever made the comparison loses whatever debate is in progress.

Fast forward another 30 years, and I feel that we have reached a phase on online discussion where the comparison with Nazis or Adolf Hitler is no longer the end of a debate; it is the starting point. If a public figure would say that he/she was in favor of colorblind racial equality, he/she would immediately be called a racist. If he made a comment about a woman being sexy, he would immediately be equated with a rapist. Saying that men and women are different makes you sexist. Saying that there is a difference between a trans woman and a biological woman makes you transphobic, and you will even be accused of promoting violence against trans people. And even left-of-center moderates are Nazis these days. On the other side of the political spectrum, the extreme right doesn't even bother with hyperbole anymore: If you are left-of-center, you are a child peddler, in a complete non sequitur.

The problem is that the corollary still applies, hyperbole ends the debate. And the absence of any political debate makes the alternative of political violence more likely. Especially in the USA, where political violence as a result of a presidential election already happened last time, the probability of political violence as a result of the next presidential election, regardless who wins, is very high. It isn't just the Republicans with their Big Lie that prepare for non-acceptance of the result, the Democrats also prepare by talking about gerrymandering and the difference between electoral college and the popular vote. It will be almost impossible to hold a presidential election in the USA in the future where there will not be a sizable chunk of the population who will believe the election was stolen.

Unlike the American Civil War of the 1860's, there is no clear geographical separation between the two sides this time. 34% of Californians voted for Trump, 46% of Texans voted for Biden. Whatever you believe about "blue states" and "red states" is wrong. Each state has red, rural counties, and blue, urban ones. The number of red, rural counties is higher than the number of blue, urban ones, but the population in the urban counties is obviously higher. But even at that level, there are Republicans in big cities, and Democrats in the countryside. Political violence in the future will not look like Gettysburg, it will look like Kenosha. As a result, there is not even a chance of political violence producing a winner, like the Civil War did. We will all just be losers. Unless we somehow manage to talk to each other again.

Monday, January 03, 2022
 
Curse of Strahd - Session 13 (Finale)

In the previous session our group of heroes rushed through Castle Ravenloft to go to the location where the Taroka card reading had told them they would find Count Strahd von Zarovich. So this session is the finale of the campaign with the epic boss fight. Good news: With some planning and advance thought on Strahd's tactics, I actually managed to make this an epic fight. It took 12 turns, which is unusually long for a 5th edition combat.

In my campaign, Strahd's final location (as determined by the Taroka) was the treasury. Great spot for the fight, as its main feature is a magic item, Daern's Instant Fortress. That is a small tower, 6 m x 6 m base, 9 m high, made from adamantium. It has a door in the front, a trap door on top, and both can only be opened by knowing the password, or dealing 100 points of damage to it. So, a great defensive position for Strahd. I also added Rahadin, Strahd's chamberlain, to the fight.

Now this campaign had seen frequent use of the polymorph spell by the players. The restriction of the spell to "beasts" result in every level 8+ user of the spell always choosing to turn their allies or themselves into a Tyrannosaurus Rex. So in a sort of "DM's comment on the campaign", Strahd cast polymorph on Rahadin, and turned him into a Tyrannosaurus Rex. And then went into his magical fortress and closed the door, so he couldn't be touched by attacks and his concentration broken. He would also do things like spending his turn to open the door, cast a non-concentration spell, and then close the door again.

The wizard of the party had thought that with the spell Dawn he had the ultimate weapon against Strahd. But while creating a zone of sunlight that deals radiant damage sounds great, the damage only applies at the first casting of the spell, and then at the *end* of the turn of each creature. Strahd simply moved out of the zone every time, or hid in the interior of the fortress, where the spell couldn't reach him. Strahd has legendary actions that allow him to move without taking opportunity attacks, and a lair action that allows him to walk through walls, so the group could never hold him in place.

Another lair action of Strahd would close and magically hold all doors in Castle Ravenloft, and Strahd used that to great effect to split the party, as the fight spread over three rooms with regular doors between them, plus the magical fortress. The fight turned against him when the group destroyed the regular doors, and the evil paladin in the group, Gustav von Zarovich, guessed the password of the magical fortress, "Tatyana". No, I hadn't actually determined that password in advance. But the player having the idea that Strahd would use the name of his loved one as password seemed such a good idea to me that I decided on the spot to go with it. That is part of the beauty of tabletop RPGs, you can have unplanned interactions like this that change the story.

When Strahd was nearly dead, I had an idea: I invented another lair action, which would give him an uninterruptable attack with advantage, trying to bite Gustav. He said some final words to Gustav, telling him that if Gustav wanted to inherit Barovia from him, he should also take his dark gift. In spite of Gustav's armor and a shield spell, Strahd managed to roll just high enough, and sank his teeth into Gustav's neck. Then it was the other players' turn, and they killed Strahd. As a result, most of the group was instantly expelled from the Barovia plane of existence and returned to where they had been in the real world before they got transported to Barovia. Only Gustav was left behind, now a vampire and the new ruler of Barovia. I thought that was a fitting ending to this campaign.

Overall, quite a nice campaign. Good roleplaying interactions with players that had accepted backstory elements suggested by me that linked them to the campaign world, like the paladin being a descendant of Strahd, or the cleric having been born in Barovia. Like most campaigns, we reached a point near the end where it seemed to drag on a bit. Skipping large parts of Castle Ravenloft and moving fast forward to the final battle was a good solution. Castle Ravenloft is a great place, but going from an open world sandbox to a 100+ room dungeon crawl at the end of a campaign doesn't really work that well. But if you had a group that prefers dungeon crawls to sandbox, you could manipulate the Taroka reading to hide all artifacts in the castle, and skip parts of Barovia like Yester Hill, Berez, and the Amber Temple. That would give you a very different campaign.

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Sunday, January 02, 2022
 
The disadvantages of being a scientist

I am a scientist. I have a university Ph.D. degree in chemistry, so I could put the title Dr. rer. nat. on my business cards (but I don't). After 10 years of university studies, I spent 25 years in a company doing research & development. As a general rule, a professional education and experience results in somebody knowing much more about the core subject of his education and job than the average citizen, and that even holds true for related subjects. For many people that doesn't play much of a role outside their job: A certified public accountant (CPA) knows a lot about accounting, but the subject is unlikely to come up during a family Christmas party.

Natural sciences are a bit different in that respect, because chemistry, physics, and biology literally relate to absolutely everything in our lives. I spent the last 5 years doing R&D on chemistry related to climate change, and that subject sure does come up in general conversation. I also understand enough of biology to have a somewhat better understanding about virology, a subject that has been hard to avoid in conversation over the last 2 years. But knowing more about something doesn't necessarily make life easier. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and you sure wouldn't want to explain scientific facts to everybody who mentions a subject in conversation.

I just got some New Year's wishes from a friend, who hoped in his mail that 2022 would be the year that COVID would go away. I couldn't bring myself to tell him the truth: COVID is way beyond the point where there was any hope that it would ever go away again. COVID will become part of our lives for the foreseeable future, it will just change from being pandemic to being endemic, that is to say everywhere. The good news is that COVID follows an evolution predictable by Darwinism: Successful variants like omicron are increasingly infective, but decreasingly mortal. A virus that kills its host is an evolutionary failure and tends to get left behind by the evolutionary more successful variant that spreads further by keeping its host alive. If you want to understand more about this, I would recommend you play the game Plague Inc. a couple of times. As a result the probability of you not catching COVID over the next decade is about the same as your probability of not catching a flu over the next decade, that is to say pretty close to zero. But your chances of surviving that COVID infection increase every year, and at some point the right-wing deniers who said that COVID is just a flu will actually be right, although that statement certainly was wrong in 2020/2021.

Regarding climate change, the central objective of the Paris Agreement is its long-term temperature goal to hold global average temperature increase to “well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. The bad news is that it is highly unlikely that the world will achieve this goal. Back in 2017 the probability of hitting the 2°C target was scientifically estimated to be around 5%; the fact that in the years since the world hasn't done enough to work towards the target means that today the probability is even lower. There is almost certainly going to be some overshoot. The not-so-bad news is that the 2°C target is completely arbitrary. We are currently "well below 2°C" and already have significant climate events. The probability of extreme weather events at let's say 2.5°C will be higher, but it isn't as if the world is fine at 1.9°C and then becomes uninhabitable at 2.1°C. The higher the temperature gets, the worse the situation for humanity will become, so battling climate change is a really good idea. But the criteria of failure or success are a lot more complicated than a single number.

You can see, knowing science doesn't make my world a happier place to live in. You constantly bump into people who spout nonsense because they don't have the scientific knowledge. And once again, like in the Middle Ages, we live in an age where people think that their irrational beliefs are more important than scientific facts.

Saturday, January 01, 2022
 
Game balance in Roll Player Adventures

My wife and me have been playing through several adventures in Roll Player Adventures since Christmas, and it is a great game! The game does an excellent job of combining "role playing" (in the sense of making decisions that have consequences) with "roll playing", that is chucking dice and manipulating them.

The story part of the game is really good. The decisions you make and the events get you keywords, which then can change what happens in another location. Keywords get erased at the end of the adventure, but you can also gain permanent title cards, which means that if for example you help somebody in one adventure, he might "remember" you in another adventure and help you. There are three opposing factions, so if you play through the game a second or third time, you can go for different goals; please note that even if you do that, a large part of the adventures remains the same, so you might want to let the game rest and forget stuff between campaigns. In any case, the story part is definitively the highlight of this game, and gets you as close as possible to a tabletop roleplaying experience as a board game with a story book can.

The mechanics part of the game appears to have some serious balance problems. The fundamental game mechanic is that you have a list of colors and target values for every combat and skill check. For example to kill a human enemy, you need a blue 2, a red 3, and a 5 that can be either green or black. So, how do you get there? Your character has little white cubes in each of his stats, and each stat corresponds to a color. At the start of the game, your warrior for example might have 3 cubes in Strength, which is red. By spending as many cubes as there are players in the game, let's say 2 for a 2-player game, you can get a die of that color. But not only does that deplete your strength, the dice are also added to your fatigue, and if fatigue becomes equal or higher than your health, you are knocked out. Every combat or skill check also has a dice limit, for example at the start of the game your combat dice limit is 3, so you can't "buy" more dice than that. If you buy less dice than 3, random dice are drawn.

Now comes the second step: Dice manipulation. You have a number of cards, 7 per character at the start of the game, which can do things like change the color of a die, change its value up or down by 1, or flip it to the opposite side. It is easy to see that the more cards you get into your hand over the course of the game, the more likely it becomes that you have the right card for any given situation. However, you are also limited by the number of cards you are allowed to play per round of combat or per skill check. This "play limit" is relatively well balanced: Whatever number of players you play with, at the start of the game the sum of (number of players x play limit per player) plus bonus plays (usable by anyone) is always 5. For example in a 2-player game at the start of the game, every player can play 2 cards, and there is 1 bonus play. The number of cards is not balanced at all: In a 1-character game you have only 7 cards to choose from, in a 4-player game you have 28.

Over the course of the game, the difference between a true solo 1-character game and a game in which one or more players play several characters becomes less pronounced. You get a lot more cards by buying them for gold, and the amount of gold in an adventure is fixed, regardless of number of characters. With 2 characters, by the end of adventure 3, we both had 12 cards each, so overall we went up from 14 to 24. A solo character would have gone up from 7 to 17, because he would have gained probably the same 10 cards as we did, or close to. A 4-player group would have gone up from 28 to 38.

While I am not there yet, it has been reported that in the second half of the campaign, players tend to have so many cards, that they can do anything. While the number of dice needed for skill checks and combat are going up, your bonus play limit and combat dice limit can also be increased by spending xp. So the game gets much easier over the campaign, possibly trivially easy if you are a good gamer. That is aggravated by the fact that there are absolutely no limits to what cards you can use: You can "wear" several suits of armor of different types at once, as many weapons as you like, your warrior can cast spells, and your wizard can use a giant axe. At the end of the game you might have 30+ cards; you'll have totally forgotten that these are supposed to represent your weapon, armor, scrolls, skills, and traits; and you are able to modify any color of dice, change dice colors, add new dice above the dice limit, and do other beneficial effects with them.

I'll play through the campaign with my wife with the system as it is. If I ever feel the need to play a second campaign of Roll Player Adventures, I would probably invent some house rules to balance the game better, especially if I wanted to play true solo, with a single character. The fundamental balance problem appears to be too few cards at the start of the game, and too many at the end. So I might introduce a goblin banker named Gevlon to the game, who lends my character 30 gold at the start of the game to buy more cards, but requires to be paid 5 gold at the end of each of the 12 adventures to cover the 100% interest rate. Sounds like Gevlon. :)

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Thursday, December 30, 2021
 
Cleaning up my Steam Wishlist

I don't know how you handle this, but I tend to use the Steam wishlist to mark games that I hear about and am interested in, but don't want to immediately buy. When there is a sale, I check which of the games have a good discount, and then decide whether I actually want to buy them. From time to time, I have to clean up my wishlist, because games tend to accumulate there faster than I want to buy them. I had over 50 games listed there now, and just managed to eliminate several.

One thing I thought about this time was to check my Steam wishlist against my PC Game Pass. I had games like Astria Ascending and Warhammer 40K Battlesector on my wishlist, but it turned out that I have free access to these games via the PC Game Pass. Sometimes I play a game on the PC Game Pass and then remember to mark it as "Ignored - Played on another platform" on Steam, but it is better to check than to buy a game I could have gotten for free.

One other game I eliminated from my wishlist for the simple reason that the developer studio had stopped making it, and there was a message from the publisher to that effect on Steam. But more often I eliminate "abandonware" by looking at the user reviews: If as game isn't at least "mostly positive", I kick it from the wishlist, and abandoned games tend to get negative reviews quickly.

Unfortunately my wishlist is still rather large. However, 15 games on it are "coming soon", so they haven't even been released in Early Access yet. Another 21 are in Early Access, and I tend to be a bit more careful before buying these. With the exception this year of Wartales, which I bought in Early Access this year on a recommendation, and it turned out to be one of the best PC games I played all year.

One sad record on my Steam wishlist is Warring States. A turn-based, hex-based, historical war game that looks quite interesting, but just not interesting enough. Steam tells me that I added it to my wishlist back in 2014, and I still haven't decided to either buy it or to remove it from the list. Well, probably better than having added it to my large library of shame of bought but unplayed Steam games.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021
 
An interesting offer from Epic

Most of my PC games are on Steam. However, like many people, I do also have an Epic account, because they give you a free game every week (and more frequently during these holidays). And when "buying" such a free game today, Epic game me a $10 coupon for their current sale. You get a $10 coupon for every purchase, but that weirdly includes $0 purchases. This is not the first time they do that, the last time ended up buying Assassin's Creed Valhalla for $25.

This time I went for one of the most-maligned video games in history: Cyberpunk 2077. Which of course never was quite as unplayable on PC as it was on PS4. And has been repeatedly patched since it came out a year ago. Now the game is half price on both Steam and Epic, and with the $10 Epic coupon added, I ended up paying just $20 for the game. Which is about the level which I thought I could risk on it. I don't have plans to immediately play it, but I doubt it will be much cheaper anytime soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2021
 
Merry Christmas!

Just a short post to wish all of my readers a merry Christmas! Santa brought me the board game Roll Player Adventures. Very large and heavy box, with good quality components and luxury like trays for everything, for both storage and use during gameplay. Looking forward to play this!
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