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Tycho / on Mon, May 27 2013 at 12:01 am

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When people were simply pecking at each other on Twitter about the pronunciation of gif, and marshalling their respective armies, and securing celebrity endorsement, I was content to let it squall.  But when it started to shred the vital bonds of camaraderie in the office, a conceptual space needed staking out.

Generally speaking as soon as someone invokes the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (“Whorfianism”) in one of these dust-ups, I check the fuck out unless I know that person very well.  I like words, a conclusion you might reasonably have arrived at with any prolonged exposure to this space, but some people don’t like words, they like talking, which is not the same thing.  I call the first my ally.

The second, I call a nyurf-nyorf.

I have been banging my head against two levels in two different games for a week or more, games which had been my go-to tension receptacles in what has been a thoroughly fucked up span of time.  I needed them back, which meant learning to play each of them much differently than I had been.

The first is in Prime World: Defenders, which I previously suggested you should buy because it was cheap, and now I might suggest you should buy it because it is good.  It’s such a throwback in all the best ways.  You might believe - as I would, reading that sentence - that I mean it has some tasteful or ironic or much-missed thingamajig which allowed one to ensconce oneself in the days of yore.  It’s sort of true, but it gets there backwards: it’s retro not because it evokes the Old Gods but because it intentionally casts out the new ones.

The game has two currencies - silver, and Stars.  I’ll let you guess which one is more valuable.  Probably not the terrestrial metal, right?  Stars are the “premium” currency.  Except there’s no “premium” currency in the way we currently think of it.  There’s no way to heap actual cash into this furnace.  It’s a closed system, you have to earn both.  It’s weird how…  quiet, this makes the mind.  It’s like putting on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones in an airplane, and then setting them down when you go to the bathroom or whatever, and being like holy shit this place is fucking loud.  Except that “place” is everywhere, now.  It is all-places.

The level was difficult because it was fairly resource constrained, coupled with the fact that there were two different attack paths which only crossed at the end.  I was able to succeed here by Fusing (squashing together cards to improve their level) and Evolving (squashing together two of the same card to allow active upgrades during play).  The game will randomly generate as many levels as you want to grind on, and I needed to do that a little, but what I mainly needed to do was play for today.  I am the type of player who Waits.  I like to entomb myself until I emerge as the wingéd god-self.  The cards I was saving for a rainy day, for some optimal juxtaposition of future perfectness, needed to feed actual, present goals.  I was not aware how fettered I had been by all this exquisite potential.

The second level that needed managing was Card Hunter.  Specifically, a Level Eight mission called the Compass of Fucking Xorr.  I added the “fucking” there, that’s not canon.  But I had been fucked so thoroughly and with such conceptual rigor that fucking seemed to suffuse the proceedings.  In my thoughts, this is how it came to be known.

Things were made even more gruesome by the fact that I had played every other level available to me.  Previously, I had a few choices, but I’d winnowed them down.  And yeah, I could play an older level.  But this feels, is meant to feel, like a campaign.  I want to go forward.  I can’t, though, because of armored dogs.  Dogs that wear armor, actual armored dogs.  And each of these armor cards are Keeps, which means they block damage and return to hand, shaving off half or more of the damage from every attack.  These fuckers are running all over the place and biting my shit and eating, actually eating with their mouths, my wizard.

I had learned previously, learned by absolute necessity, the power of a wizard on the run.  Everybody knows about glass cannons: they’re a type of cannon that is super fragile. I had Phaedrus dressed to the nines, but he was essentially a mystical jackhammer. He dealt big and small hits at a variety of ranges and then he was eviscerated.  His life could be described on a single sheet titled Eviscerated and Still Got All My Viscera, and there would be no marks in the second column.  They’re magic hermits, and you have to play them that way.  They want to be alone.

I have described how Deckbuilding works in Card Hunter: similar to World of Warcraft, or Diablo, you dress your paper doll and now you’re ready to go.  I might build a particular set for a particular, high-level encounter on one of those games, but generally stuff is getting disenchanted or sold.  That’s how I’ve been playing Card Hunter, and it finally stopped working.

There are Ways, plural, of the Warrior.  Priests, in my experience, have an even wider palette here.  But Wizards are straighst-up, ball-out, batshit fucking loco.  Cards that just pick up every enemy and scatter them to the four winds.  Sorcerous walls of bizarre, perhaps elfin make.  Spells to boil a man’s armor.  Jets of wicked acid.  Things turned around when I realized that.  Obviously, treasure gets sold.  But even a super old, practically heirloom piece might have some little twinkle on it that might save the day.  Or the turn.  I had to give up my eldritch Death Star for a lean, versatile, fundamentally more mobile human platform.

I’m not selling off anymore, not the way I was.  This might look like the existing systems, but underneath it’s something else.  Now, I’ve got shit poking, pressing, and protruding from my armoire.  I never know when I’m gonna need that boa.  But that’s not true, not really.  I need it constantly.  I need that boa basically all the time.

(CW)TB out.


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