Join Club PA


Tycho / 23 hours ago

It’s quite true, unfortunately.  I stuffed my Switch full of rad shit to play, but then I ended up reading the Kill Team manual the whole way, dreaming of ways in which I could better serve our twisted Patriarch as five long hours evaporated.  Shortly thereafter, I left the row and also left the Goddamn Switch in there, which burns us.

I have a lot of technology that can execute and subsequently display entertainment software, but there’s no device that has accomplished what the Switch has in my family.  My teenager sulks with it.  My daughter and I play cooperative games on it.  When her friends come over, they take turns playing while everyone else strategizes or they collectively try, without success, to operate a restaurant.  And it’s the normalizing anchor from home I take with me on the trips I take once a month in this season.  I miss it more than I would miss an object.  I just thought about it, and winced.

A lot of things happened at PAX Unplugged, and one of the things that happened was that it was Mike Fehlauer’s last official show with us.

Figuring out what this company wanted to be when it grew up was a monumental undertaking, and he was part of that.  I mean, he’s just turning toward Child’s Play now and rocking it Dad Style, I’m sure I’ll see him all the time, but it just won’t be back to back with our swords out taking on all comers and it’s worth taking a moment to mark it.

The term we use for this is Boarding the White Ships.  It’s a Tolkien thing; after the great tribulation of bearing the ring, and the accomplishment of great deeds, you leave on a ship to your earned rest.  Among other things, Boarding the White Ships means you get to actually attend a PAX, without any of the weight associated with its manufacture.  I asked him if he had a good time at PAX Unplugged, and he said yeah.  He understands why so many people want to go to them, now.

(CW)TB out.

Gabe / 23 hours ago

Symmetra!

I got the opportunity to help announce a new Overwatch skin over the weekend and I’m still giddy about it.


I drew some art inspired by Symmetra’s new figure skater skin and I’m super proud of how it came out.

It’s true that I had some issues when the Symmetra rework a while back but I stuck with her and eventually came to love the changes. In fact I managed to pull off my first team kill with her a little bit ago.

I still play Overwatch every day, although I have recently made the switch from PS4 to PC. After hundreds of hours on the console it’s been really fun starting over. So many of my favorite heroes like Pharah and Symmetra are so much more fun with a mouse and keyboard.


In addition to Overwatch, there are a couple other games I’ve been jumping into daily.

Hades

Like all games from Supergiant games, Hades is beautiful. I would give them $20 just so that more of this art could exist even if I never played the game. Thankfully the game is awesome too and I can’t stop playing it.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

I have not played a SSB seriously since the Gamecube but Ultimate has it’s claws in me. I’ve been playing a little bit every day with Noah and the slow drip of new characters is highly addictive.

 

-Gabe out

 

Tycho / 4 days ago

Coupon For 15% Off On The Store

Our Merchandise Manager, the incomparable Lidija Piper, has given me a code for the store.  The code is KTHRISSMAS.  It will give you fifteen percent off.  That’s real good.  The only question is what you’re gonna do with it.

You could…  explore Gavin Greco’s WASD Collection:

You could… grab a copy of LEXCALIBUR, now blissfully in stock:

You could… take a chunk off more elaborate purchases, like Thornwatch or The Dark Of Wood.  Any Eyrewood stuff, really:

You could pragmatically celebrate Penny Arcade’s 20th Anniversary for less!  Indeed, in my Father’s house there are many collections - Stocking Stuffers or Sale Items might be appropriate - and any one of them might be of interest.

(CW)TB

Tycho / 4 days ago

When we wrote the strip, what I said wasn’t true - but when I went into the Epic Games Launcher just now to poke around for SuperGiant’s new roguelike Hades, it looks like it?

They’re not all tweens, of course.  But it’s non-zero, and if you haven’t been to a kid’s Birthday Party in the last few months you’d be forgiven for not knowing but Fortnite emotes are like a mind-virus with true dominion over the youth.  In a maverick fit of iconoclasm, Gabe’s son Noah performed these dances at PAX while dressed as Reaper.

I was deeply scandalized.

I think it really remains to be seen what type of vigor an Epic store would have; the “extinction level event” nomenclature is freighted with truculent ironicality.  I understand that the percentage it’s offering is better, 88 percent over Steam’s retaliatory, freshly goosed 75.  That’s a larger percentage of a smaller number, and it’ll be that way for a while.  More interesting at least to my mind is waiving the fees for games that use Unreal Engine 4, and bootstrapping a broader Support-A-Creator program.  I have a lot of questions, but it really looks like a good faith effort to me.  Greater revenue share for the developer as opposed to lower costs for the consumer is such an interesting narrative; “moral consumption” has been the overriding modus for a while now.  Steam’s 70/30 occupied the lofty same position, once.

What it really means, as a practical matter, is that now I have a fourth or fifth store client on this box.  The question at this point is really about which one is the first to be removed.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 6 days ago

The cards in a given Keyforge deck are pulled from the whole set, and the names are generated by some kind of computerized madness.  Occasionally it’s lead to some, uh…  Hm.  There’s a standing offer by multiple retailers I know where they just replace your deck if it turns out to be named in an incredibly offensive way, but if I were them I woulda been much more careful with my corpus.  Most names are just goofy though and I suspect we could make comics like today’s for quite a while and still find it amusing.

I’ve been carding the fuck out the last month or so and it shows no sign of slowing.  I want to talk about Thronebreaker for example, and go into why Warhammer Champions is like winding an evil clock, but I’ll have to save those for later.  Keyforge was the Thing at the show and I’ve been meaning to get to it so we’ll start there.  I said that it was the third part of a coherent Richard Garfield trilogy, and this is what I meant by that:

Magic: The Gathering is about making the most successful deck you can from an evolving superset.

Netrunner has this too, but two distinct supersets are competing against each other asymmetrically.  This is what makes it a conceptual sequel, in my opinion: this cleaving into two distinct wholes.

Keyforge is the opposite of both.  It is about making the best of what you have.

Now, you can say that the final entry in this trilogy is a “down note,” which often happens in narratives, but it’s an inversion of the premise.  In a way, it’s a kind of statement about Magic and CCGs as a concept.  It’s deeply heretical in ways that make it hard to explain to people who love the form:  there’s no health.  There’s no mana.  There’s no deckbuilding, and there’s no boosters.

I fielded a few questions online about Keyforge, and one of the odd things about the game in general is that it is designed as an answer to the questions you’d ask.  You can’t really think about it like a CCG.  Personally, I think you should play it like a boardgame: get five or six decks and play them against each other, and you’re done.  There’s a concept called Chains which are designed to weigh down superior decks through draw restrictions; they’re also used to bid for powerful decks.  Some decks are better than others, and this is meant to ameliorate that.  Sportsmanship is a virtue here.

I used to play the World of Warcraft TCG, maybe as hard as I’ve ever played collectible card game, and one thing they really pioneered was the Boss Decks: classic raids distilled into monstrous, unfair, cooperative encounters.  I was obsessed with that shit, we did comics and everything.  I don’t think that concept was really given its due again until White Wizard’s efforts in Hero Realms.  Anyhow, one of the things that made the concept so compelling is that there’s a lot of cards that don’t make sense in a lean, brutal deck you’d use for PvP.  But now, against this new foe, you’re parsing cards in a completely different way - you can even specialize decks to do things like Main Heal.  You’re using cards you never would have given a second look.

You want to play Keyforge as optimally as possible, but you do so within the bounds of your deck.  You’re trying to generate a resource called Ember, but of course it’s like Ember that starts with that “ae” thing because their parents didn’t love them or something.  You need six of these to “forge a key,” and you need to forge three keys to win.  So much of the game is like Tug O’ War or Keep Away, trying to grab or even just hold the opponent’s Ember away from them long enough for you to get your keys done.  Every deck you buy is made up of cards from three different Houses, and when your turn comes around you choose one of them and play all the cards you want from that House.  So there’s no mana, but there’s a sensible - yet gameable - limitation on what you can accomplish because you can only do things with a particular house at a time.  Obviously, there’s a couple keywords that let you muddy the waters a bit but generally that’s how you comport yourself.  In this way, it’s a race to get keys built, and it feels like it.  Cards and creatures operate traditionally, they have strength or whatever, but most of their interactions are about Ember and they can’t attack the player.  So, even if they look the same they do other things - for example, often the smaretest move isn’t to attack enemy creatures at all but to “Reap” - that is to say, Generate Ember.  They can all do it.  You want to kill troublesome, multicard Engines but you are not here to wage war.  You have a more glorious purpose.

Tournament-wise at PAX Unplugged, there were a few formats on-hand: some where you bring decks from home, some the Keyforge equivalent of “Sealed Deck,” where you pop open a couple decks and now you’re ready to play.  I think the latter is much more Keyforge, frankly - more harmonious with the thesis: this is what we got.  This is where we’re at.  And we succeed by making the best of it.

(CW)TB out.




Club PA - Powered by Patreon

  • Exclusive Podcasts
    & Streams
  • A Club PA
    Pinny Arcade Pin
  • Store Discounts
    & Exclusive Merch
  • Exclusive Comics
    & Art

Join!


Follow Penny Arcade