Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Gloomhaven - dive in

I've spent a lot of time over the past few months playing Gloomhaven so I'm writing a bit about it while it's still fresh in my head.

Gloomhaven is really just a run of the mill dungeon crawler RPG in board game form. What makes it stand out for me is the mechanics of the card skills and the choices that players have to make per turn. Each class gets its allotment of level 1(level x is considered level 1), gets a maximum hand size and then gets access to acquiring a higher level card from levels 2 through 9 with 2 new choices at each level.

The anatomy of a card is pretty straight forward. A top action, a bottom action and an initiative number for turn order.  Each round, players select two cards and perform a top action on one card and a bottom action on the other.  It's a very simple system but it allows players to make different decisions based on monsters or board layout.

The game isn't hard though which is good and bad. The play is linear in general. Kill, crowd control or heal. Rinse and repeat. Most interactions between players revolve around deciding how many things to CC or which things the team thinks it can kill before the monster goes smash smash. Optimal play is relatively easy to figure out and if you can't, there are guides out there that exposes most of the stuff that turns the game into easy mode. But, if you think of every room as a puzzle to solve, it really helps you to understand why some things are loss cards (because they solve problems) and how items work to "fix" situations.

Unlike many of the guides I've read through, I actually enjoy picking the "weaker" classes and the less obviously powerful cards(most often the most flexible ones) for cards that are more situational.  Why? Because the difficulty is adjustable and having to make hard decisions (and occasionally gambles) is how I have fun.

Now.. what would I change to tailor the experience to my tastes?
  1. The numbered initiative system is great, but I think I'd prefer it to be 1-10 so it matters what second card you play to break ties.
    • Enemy cards would be updated to reflect having two numbers.
    • Monsters now gain the ability to stop a lot of "guaranteed" fast/slow combinations from players and certain items are now really, really useful.
  2. Remove curse and disarm from enhancements
    • Or limit CC to restricting melee or restricting ranged or something like that
    • Think missile barriers etc
  3. An expansion for a third card to pick from for each level. (its nice having 3 "trees" to choose from)
  4. Reduction in the power of level 9 cards
  5. Remove stamina potions or use a loss unrecoverable staff or reduce small items count etc etc
  6. Remove non-loss kill powers
  7. Invisibility seems a bit OP
  8. More secondary abilities that don't necessarily mean damage.  Not sure what this would look like.
  9. A second default ability for either top or bottom based on the class or make it something you can unlock (2 shield or 4 shield once/total or attack 1 wound etc etc)
  10. Re-imagine the three spears class
  11. I'd like to be able to use and generate elements more often with less benefit. I feel like this mechanic is either completely ignored or completely centric during play
  12. Decks for summons by class classification tank/melee/ranged/etc would be fun (might be even weirder though)
  13. More ways to work as a team besides focus fire/CC distribution/elements.  The more I play, the more I think that everyone running off to tank/CC/pull their own target is the most ideal situation (not factoring in enemies that target 2+)
    • maybe an event card deck that grants bonuses for doing something with your team
      • any time you end movement in a square adjacent to a non-summoned ally heal 1
      • or.. if your movement passes by an ally gain +1 attack
      • that kinda stuff
    • maybe random bonuses if the players operate in a certain turn order... brute => mindthief => spellweaver grants bonus move to everyone or something.
  14. More buffs that don't last forever but just until you short rest/long rest (similar to mindthief augments except you cant leave them out)
I'll probably revisit this stuff as I think more about it but I think just doing a few of the above would make a huge difference in game play, especially number 1.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Diablo 3 - wrapping up

Back from my hiatus. I'm going to be trying to work on a game so I think I need to at least be able to ship a few hundred words every now and then.

I haven't paid that much attention to Diablo 3 in a long time. With the Nintendo Switch version incoming and maybe something else, I felt like I should address this game one more time before I move on. 

I'm now comfortable with this game being very casual in nature. Log on, beat on some monsters, call it a day.  I think going in I really wanted a tight ARPG that had a lot of mechanics and build options to play with but I think it might be too tall of an order to find some kind of balance between fun, loot pinatas, build options and optimization.  As a disclaimer, I haven't touched this game since before the Necromancer update, but if this is the direction this series goes maybe there's no point in following it anymore.  With these very static systems in place, there isn't much room for discovery or experimentation.

I hope I have to eat my words.

This might just be me being bored with what is there but I'm not sure it is.  I'll leave a few thoughts here because I'm currently pondering them.
  1. Don't let me ignore mechanics unless there's a really good reason and/or a penalty to go with it.  Making me think less doesn't make the game more fun.
  2. Let's stop it with basically spammable CC. See item number 1.
  3. More treasure goblins or treasure goblin-like things.  Chasing things is fun (let's not go crazy though.. here's looking at you monster hunter) and it's something different
  4. Instances (essentially, like a boss room) that are designed to make you or your group cry a bit.. randomly generated.  You have xyz skill/gear.. fight these things that cleanse themselves of DoTs or something.. whatever

Monday, December 28, 2015

Diablo 3 - quality of life suggestions

Item Modifier Ranking

Actually, this one is something I'd like to see all games (if applicable) adapt.  We're always fighting for space in the UI and trying to deliver a depth of information and simplicity.  Now.. the loot pinata that Diablo is.. I'd like to see a way to determine how good each roll is without remembering or referencing the item at the mystic or online.. D-C-B-A-S-P ( P for perfect ) and then we could just see the grades when an item drops and, of course, active only for level 70 (or max level whatever that may be) items


Kind of at the point where I'd rather just get back mats or set/unique items only.  Having to free space to gamble when magic/rare items are never going to be good is a bit annoying. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Diablo 3 - 2.3 and 2.4 - the beginning of greatness?

Forgot about this blog! But this is a good time to start since D3 was the reason why I started it to begin with, and now is an exciting time.

With a little less than a month until 2.4.0, I'd just like to put a few thoughts here.

What's great?


To those complaining about the number scaling.. you really have to take a step back and see what is actually happening.  That team is committed to scaling the base skills with gear to control the multiplicative nature of the beast and introducing the Legacy of Nightmares set to bring skills up to par (kinda) based on damage alone.

I think it's slightly misguided to keep trying to control the top end meta but I think it's also a really good way of finding what is actually fun for players. And.. in the future, I can see them adding the scaling in by default and focusing on augmenting the skills which is far more intersting.

Kanai's cube

First. RIP.

Second, I like that we've gotten a way to extend the number of "skills" we have with the cube and legendary gems.. at this point I'm definitely feeling like we should remove the accessory socket requirement and put legendary gems just as additional powers.  The game is probably in the right spot right now to do that since we're re-establishing baseline defense and offense and we can mitigate the 3 additional stat slots.

What's the same?


Channeling should probably just be removed at this point.  I don't think the dev team knows how to make this mechanic interesting and even though they're making the numbers better.. i'm not sure that standing somewhere and holding down a button should be good except in specific circumstances.

What could we do about it?  I'd like to see a completely new approach to channeling (although no idea if it's technically feasible). So stuff like, buff/debuff ground pools that widen as you cast, regeneration/resource regeneration, access to different skills while channeling (archon)

Just as an example.. say mirror image, could be a "channeled" ability where you get to summon 3 clones based on the direction you're facing, you get a new set of "skills" where 1 is cancel, 2-5 will swap the real you to the corresponding position, all copies (including you) are gimpy and do 10% damage and cast random stuff but most importantly.. they dont move

Definitely excited to see the final patch notes for 2.4.0!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Diablo 3 - breakdown - overpowered

There seem to be a few warring philosophies to the current conversation around d3. One side seems to think that exploits and mechanics should just be left alone, that broken overpoweredness is what it's all about, and the other side of the coin is the people more interested in balance.

 Now, I'll start by saying I'm on the side of balance. But there's a reason why we all should be very interested in basic mechanics that are balanced.

The heart of d3 is the skills system. When I first read about how skills will scale in d3, I immediately knew this would be the loot pinata dungeon crawler of all time. This game is essentially an orgasm of math and scalability. The devs basically said.. 'screw it, we're going to throw away anything that corresponds to "sense" and make this game capable of scaling up and down based simpler math'.  What does this mean for us?

Each skill can be balanced.  Note that I said.. can be.. some skills are clearly superior to others based on factors outside of the numbers on skills.  For instance, the demon hunters grenades are ridiculously hard to use solo.. and practically useless against fast enemies because of the casting animation and the time it takes to actually explode (at least in the current meta)  The problem with skills like this is that there's probably a very specific build or group composition that can take advantage of the skill, but you need either or to make it worth taking. That's something of a problem but it also gives people a reason to group or swap whole skill sets..

For the sake of fun.. we want to tune all the available skills so that they are worth taking and at the same time.. are soft counters for elite/champ affixes so that we can gear to. Why do we want to do this? For the simple fact that although nephalem valor is completely OP, sometimes that calling for progression is too insistent to quit and restart the run.

Diablo 3 - breakdown of awesomeness

After being on the very poisonous main diablo 3 forums for some time and browsing through people's opinions, I decided to write a bit about the good things (amazing things really) about the game, its potential and its relationship with issues games are having, in general, in the 21st century. Not quite sure how many parts this series will be.. but here goes nothing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Man oh man.. when did we become so stuck up about genre labels for games?  I've been hearing/reading more "thats not an x, its more like a y because z is what a x should be like."  Give it a break people, genre descriptions are an indicator of what the game is like, not a 100% description of the elements and gameplay involved.  I'd rather we use the "z"-clone but with ''xy" formula to describe games at this point.  It's probably the more common method of introducing games to your friends anyways.

And an RPG.. a role-playing game?  When in the world did that term become so limiting to people?  Role playing is strictly that.. being/playing someone else.  If it just so happens that a game is doing the traditional level based character progression.. or one is a sandbox and another isn't.. that's all good.

Let's establish some more descriptors to the genre tag so that we can keep people from saying things like "that's not an mmorpg, that's not like WoW".  It hurts my brain.