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I’ve been playing a few hours of Hearthstone every day of my vacation. During the day while the kids are playing in the sand or after they go to bed while I’m out on the porch. The soothing sound of the ocean waves is the only thing that has kept me from snapping the iPad in half and tossing it into the water.

That might make it sound like I don’t like the game and that’s not true. I actually really like it a lot. I should hate it. I should have stopped playing it days ago and I should delete it from the iPad but I haven’t done that. I haven’t done that because even though I have only won 2 games of the hundred or so that I’ve played I still want to play it. I don’t have any idea why that is. I’ve closed it in frustration more times that I can count. I’ve even pressed down on the icon until it began to shake. I’ve stared at the little red x knowing that if I tap it the game will be gone and I’ll never have to feel this way again. I always stop myself though and leave the game right where it is.

Nearly all my games in Hearthstone seem to go the same way. They all hinge on what I would call gimmicks or what a good player might call combos. I start off playing well, I might even get my opponent’s health down to half or maybe less. Then a series of cards gets played and all of a sudden I’m being hit for 15 to 20 damage. Or maybe I’ve cleared all their minions but all of a sudden I’m dealing with 5 dogs buffed like crazy. The absolute worst is when they drop the Leeroy card on me in some super combo that leaves me with more negative HP that I had positive HP at the start of the game. There is something especially frustrating about being destroyed by my own artwork.

I was told to read Icy Veins by my friend Scott Kurtz and I did. I have plenty of free time right now so I checked out their tips and studied their deck advice. I love the song The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel. There is a line in there where he talks about whore houses and says there were times he was “so lonesome he took some comfort there.” I’ve always loved the honesty of that line and you can tell he’s ashamed but it’s the truth. Well I will tell you right now that at my lowest I built some of the decks listed on that site. I’ve never been one for net-decking but my God I didn’t know what else to do. The sad thing is I couldn’t win even with these “pro decks”. All this managed to do was amplify my shame.

In my last game against a Warrior I felt like I was doing pretty well. I had managed to avoid “top-decking” which is a common problem I have. I was trying to make “careful minion trades” paying attention to costs while thinking about “board control”. I still had 15 health to his 11 and felt like I was finally going to win. Then he said “well played” and as I have come to understand that is Hearthstone code for “I’m about to hit you for infinity damage.” Sure enough I was dead that turn and sent back to the lobby. I looked out to my left through the window at the surf in an effort to calm myself. This time though I was not soothed by the ocean. Instead I imagined myself the sand, beaten endlessly by a never-ending series of crushing waves. Eroded away by the constant assault until there was nothing left of me.

As soon as I hit “post” on this article I’m going to load it back up.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 2 days ago

The Night Of A Thousand Hours: Wayrest Chapel

(In the adventure proper, there’s a werewolf or two.  In another of my awesome, helpful notes, there is a single two-word line that says

Cur’s Wort

which is a plant Nature checks reveal to be considered protection against the creatures.  But this dude is a bad-ass, and one of the ways you can tell is that he doesn’t care.)

“The church itself is lit within by a combination of torches, red candles, and glowing orbs of unknown manufacture.  Lights pours out the windows, a bringing to mind a lantern, or a lighthouse built in the wrong place.

Every few feet, the walls to the left and right are adorned with stained glass depicting aid to wanderers.  It is a place of such perfect comfort you can hardly let yourself believe it.

For a wilderness chapel, it is well appointed - Avandra collects a tithe, which some call Her Holy Tax, on goods that travel through this wood.  The pews are stained dark and are polished with fragrant wax.  A decorative shield stands on a casual podium, with three arrows of pure silver in a row on the front.  Very well appointed indeed.

A massive wall of stained glass stands behind the wooden podium, depicting brilliant sun shining over a golden cup.  The howling rises to a new crescendo, rising in a bloodcurdling hunting song, whose notes are clear and pure - no work of mere beasts.

This terrifying chord is held for what seems an eternity, and at the moment you think the sound will drive you mad, it melts into stillness.  There is long, terrible moment of silence before the stained glass at the end of the chamber shatters inward, its majestic sun replaced by the brilliant eye of the full moon.


Unfolding itself from the ground, pieces of jagged glass are dropping to the floor as its wounds mend themselves.  This is an ancient were(?!?), grizzled, and his body is full of daggers, swords, (sweet tats,) and spear tips that the skin has closed around, holding them in place.  His ragged mane is grey, and in the light of the moon gives off a ghostly glow.  His huge, black eyes rake across the room, finding the child with terrible speed.  With a roar, echoed by the chorus outside, he leaps.”

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 4 days ago

The Night Of A Thousand Hours: Escape

(It’s frankly a dangerous business in the DMing game to write as much as I did back then.  I don’t really do that anymore, which is a lie.  I lied right there.  I just like writing, and it’s hard to stop.  I would say the hardest part about writing the Lookouts book is that there are no breaks for players to interject.  I like to leave a lot of “room” and I’m trying to figure out how leaving room works when I have the tiller of the entire narrative.  Oh, by the way, the streets are full of these things too.  It can never be easy.)

As the creatures fall, hissing and warping, you see silhouettes in the night sky, creeping above the buildings.  You hear the stretch of bowstrings, just before an old cart careens out of a nearby alley.  Twisted arrows, gnarled like the roots of trees (HOW WOULD THAT FLY JERRY), thunk into its side and its driver shouts, “Come aboard, friends!  Unless you’re warming to changeling hospitality!”

Vaalgarten, Tinkerer of Immeral Wood, rides his horses as hard as he is willing to on such a wet night, in such a dark forest.  He is humming an old song, and smiling as he does so.  The song - and the smile - stop sharply at the first howl.

“Zabi, Pharoah!  HA!”

(Here’s what’s funny.  So, it was apparently super important for me to name this fucking dude’s horses.  But when it comes to a fairly complicated skill challenge involving ensorcelled wires strung at neck level, let’s take a look at what kinds of notes I leave myself.)

Metal Strings 4

(Thanks.  Anything else I should know?)

cart tree?

(Awesome, man.  Yeah.  Cart tree.  Sounds good.  The best part is the question mark, as if to say that it might be a cart, or a tree, or some amalgam thereof, but it’s not known.  Indeed, it may not be possible to know.)

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 6 days ago

The Night Of A Thousand Hours: The Mermaid Incident

I’m glad to see Galahad again.  I have a lot of sympathy for young people who don’t understand what you have to do in order to get kisses.  The only thing that ever worked for me, admittedly the sample size is not large, was not caring so Goddamned much.  People can…  smell it.  And they don’t like the smell.  I’m not saying you can’t care, obviously you do.  But you have to know at some level that not getting this particular kiss at this particular time won’t cause the universe to split in the middle and demons to come out.

The other trick was to already be in a relationship, for some reason.  Does wonders for the confidence.  Of course, that scenario is also fraught.  Good fraught?  I don’t know.  The scheduling was a nightmare.

There aren’t a lot of notes for the fight in The Mermaid.  The rule is that any damage the baby would take is taken by the person holding her, but I never wrote it down.  People had to pass the child hand to hand to keep from being cut down, which was the intention.  There should be more on my innovative “leave no notes” note taking method in the next post.

The DLC Kickstarter had a backer level where, if you backed at that level, we would send you a print of every strip there was a podcast for in that season.  That was an idea we had.  And some people took us up on it, which we appreciated.  Several vats of toner later:

(click to embiggen)

Let’s look closer.

(can also be clicked)

That is one of the more bonkers offers I’ve seen on Kickstarter, and they’re finally REAL.  The same Kickstarter was also responsible for Kris Straub‘s excellent animification of the podcast.  Once these are out, there’s just one more animation from Kris and one more episode of Family Lunch.  But the podcast is back for good.

We’ve since moved things like Early Access to Podcasts over to Club PA, which you might have seen, along with early access to comics and way more stuff than I could possibly explain here.

(CW)TB out.

My Microsoft Surface Commercial!

This is sort of strange for me. I’ve never done anything like an actual commercial before. I mean, I’ve drawn comics for companies which are essentially commercials, but I’ve never appeared in one myself. Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of the Surface though, and I really like all the folks over on the Surface team at MS. When they asked me to appear in a video, I said hell yeah.

You can head over to the Surface blog and see it right now. I basically laid out why I think the device is so incredible for artists. I saw a few people asking about the stylus I’m using and it’s the Bamboo Feel from Wacom. It’s a great little pen and works like a charm on the Surface Pro.

Thanks to the Surface folks for giving me the opportunity to share my take on their device. I know I use it in sort of a non-standard way. Also I’d like to thank them for not making me breakdance.

-Gabe out