What did the pumpkin say out his halloween mouth?
Druids: Turns out they’re not so shite
So hey, I’m playing World of Warcraft, and as you know it’s patch 8.1.5 and that brought with it some trolls or whatever, but also CHUNKY BOYS.
And in strange news, all it took for me to like druids was for me to not have to be an elf or go through the Gilneas start zone, who knew? Also it needed a chunky boy who, in the wise words of one of my guildies, “looks like they rushed out of a European sex dungeon” which did make me laugh.
So yes. Still playing the hunter, still stubbornly marksman spec, even in the face of a fight like Rastakhan where there’s so many big balls running around the place that the movement would be REALLY helpful. Typical I go from an immobile turret to a class that’s the exact opposite, but then pick the spec that still needs to stand still all the time.
But the druid? Actually rather fun. Feral, to me, plays like an assassination rogue, with the combo points and the bleeds and the building and finishing, whereas balance (where I’ve spent most of my time as I can glyph it so my fabulous transmog is visible to the world) plays like a cross between shadow priest/affliction warlock (maintain dots!) and, idk, mage or something (throw out magic stuffs!). I’ve not played as guardian or restoration because I value my sanity and calm, tranquil moods. Seriously, for all the reputation healers have as kind, loving, nurturing types, I don’t half feel ABSOLUTE BURNING RAGE when I play one and people keep messing around.
GET OUT OF THE FUCKING FIRE, GODDAMN
In non WoW-related stuff, I’m curious about the announcement that Dwarf Fortress is coming to Steam, and I’m contemplating playing the original (with a graphics set that makes it pleasing to my eyes) a little bit in the meantime, to see if I can get to grips with it. I hear it’s very imposing to learn, which seems like a laugh. Also that you’re basically doomed to fail from the get go, and it’s just an exercise to see how long you can put off your glorious (or shameful!) failure. Sounds like my kinda jam!
Anyway, it’s back to the level grind. I’m level 67, I need to get a wiggle on.
The title should not come as a surprise to those of you who follow me on the Twitters, where I seem to be constantly posting me doing Civ 6 stuff, or the insane amount of hours I have played this game for, or my GDRs and suchlike, but I cannot stress just HOW MUCH I like this game in an adequate manner.
The new expansion, Gathering Storm, released 11 days ago, and I don’t think a day has gone by since where I haven’t sunk a good amount of time into it. I’m literally doing Love Rocket runs in WoW then jumping immediately into Civ. The new features are amazing, the new era is mysterious and exciting, the diplomatic victory is something I am glad has made a return.
And of course the Giant Death Robot is back!
So in celebration of Civilization 6: Gathering Storm, I am going to rank the new leaders in order of how much I like them so far.
- Mansa Musa (Mali): Dude’s fucking MINTED. Need an army? BUY IT. Founded a new city and need to set up buildings and districts? Move Reyna there and BUY IT. He can throw money at every problem and still have more than enough to get by.
- Eleanor of Aquitaine (England/France): Domination victory without ever declaring war. Girl is BROKEN and I fucking love it.
- Kristina (Sweden): Awesome bookish girl who also happens to not take any shit from people. Brazil hates her for generating so many Great People and that’s fine because Brazil sucks MAJOR ass. Fuck you, Pedro.
- Pachacuti (Inca): MOUNTAIN TUNNELS. WORKABLE MOUNTAIN TILES.
- Matthias Corvinus (Hungary): Hey, remember that thing you can do? Leveraging a city state’s armies? Remember how you never do it because why the fuck would you? HEEEEEEERE’S MATTHIAS to show you that you are missing OUT.
- Wilfrid Laurier (Canada): Hockey and mounties and generally nice guy and WAIT CANADA DECLARED WAR ON ME?! How did I piss THEM off?!
- Suleiman (Ottomans): Hat.
- Dido (Phoenecia): Hates me because I settle coastal cities a lot. It’s not my fault I like a sea view!
- Kupe (Maori): STOP DECLARING WAR ON ME. Every goddamn time!
A WARCRAFT NEWS
Hey did you know my Hunter is my main now? As Marksman? Yeah, that’s a thing.
There’s a lot of negativity flying around at the moment, a lot of it justified of course, but it’s not all doom and gloom in the world (of Warcraft), surely? So I’ve decided to be cheerful and positive about this game, and list a few things I really enjoy right now.
- Survival Hunter: there’s something weird about playing a melee spec when you’re used to ranged, and even more odd when that class is usually ranged as well, but there’s an odd satisfaction to playing as a bomb-slingin’, poison arrow shootin’, polearm swingin’ panda that just wants to harpoon you, reel you in and turn you into burgers.
- Warlock: I mean of course. It’s the best class. Throw those demons!
- The New Raid: Battle for Dazar’alor is a fantastic raid, and while the first boss is a bit boring (first bosses usually are), the other bosses are magnificent, especially Opulence and Mekkatorque. We haven’t attempted Jaina yet, but we cleared through to her last night, so Monday beckons.
- Mining: Sometimes, I like to fire up the ol’ WoWs, find a neat playlist on Spotify, then run around and mine. Just diggin’ all those ores, turning them into gems, then selling that shit on the auction house. It’s my chillout activity of the moment.
- Pandaren: I mean of course. It’s the best race. Throw those bears!
- Transmog Hunting: Like, 99% of the reason to play is to make my characters look fabulous. Dress them up, pose them, take pictures. Digital Barbies! Which incidentally, is what my mother refers to The Sims as, which is 100% accurate. Check out her dream house (except it’s the size of a studio flat and has the cheapest wallpaper/carpet available)!
- Sethrak/Vulpera: Like seriously if the Sethrak and Vulpera don’t become allied races like YESTERDAY then I will… well I’ll get over it relatively quickly but it’ll still be a wasted opportunity. Also give me Jinyu, while I’m at it. I want to make a fishboy! I want to make a snake! They will be best of friends and fight crime!
- Spine of Deathwing: He’s about to roll left! He’s about to roll right! He’s about to roll left! He’s about to roll right!
- N’zoth: I mean of course. It’s the best old god. Throw those tentacles!
- Story Direction: Seriously though, the further we go, the more… tentacular things seem to be getting, and I am very very excited to see where it leads. I’m hoping we get to see Ny’alotha at some point. Maybe witness the rise of the Black Empire! I mean they were only defeated back then by the titans, and they’re somewhat occupied at the moment…
So yes, plenty for me to be excited about!
I AM PANDA, HEAR ME ROAR
Actually no, please leave.
Yopaat is the storm personified. Yopaat is power and strength, Yopaat is the fire that burns in the centre of the world and the winds that rage around it. When Yopaat calls on the elements, they OBEY. Except for the times they don’t, but let’s not focus too much on that okay? That was a really tough time for me and I would appreciate you not bringing it up.
I AM THE ROAR OF THUNDER
I AM THE CRACKLE OF FLAME
I AM THE TREMBLING OF THE EARTH BENEATH YOUR FEET no not because I’m fat, how very dare you
THE MIGHTY YOPAAT needs not such petty things as “humility” or “depth perception” or “an indoor voice” for I am the master of the elements!
(except I totally took the Storm Elemental talent)
EAT MY TOTEM, YOU ABSOLUTE END-PIECE.
What were you doing in 2003? Back then, I was either finishing my first year of college (studying AS Accounts, IT, Maths and Business Studies) or starting my second (where I dropped both IT and Maths, and picked up Sociology, my favourite of the -logies). I was 17, I already knew I was a flagrant homosexual and was keen to explore more aspects of my self and my being. Apparently, 2003 was the year I discovered I like SRPGs, and this game was the catalyst.
What Even Is A Disgaea Anyway?
Nobody really knows for sure as the makers have never specified, at least not to my knowledge. Most common speculation is that dis means bad or not and the gaea part means earth or world, giving you Not Earth or Bad World. Makes sense as the game is set in the Netherworld, the evil counterpart to the good-aligned Celestia and the, I guess, neutral Earth. The Disgaea games are a series of SRPGs developed by Nippon Ichi, set in Netherworlds populated by demons and prinnies (the souls of the sinful dead, reincarnated into the form of explosive penguins and made to work off their crimes) with the thinnest of thin sheets separating them and the fourth wall. Characters know they’re in a game and will comment on various mechanics and tropes and even try and exploit them (the main character of Disgaea 3, Mao, stole another character’s title of hero from their in-game status screen for instance, and Laharl from the first game, when seeing the bonus boss, exclaims in horror “LEVEL 4000?!” as that was the highest level boss in the game).
Battles are played in typical SRPG fashion; the battlefield is a grid, characters can move x amount of tiles and perform attacks that affect y number of tiles. You move and take action, then you end your turn and the enemy takes their action. The usual stuff. Disgaea has a few other mechanics up its sleeve though; humanoid characters can lift and throw other units (monsters cannot, but they still have a throw range, because if you throw a unit at them, they bounce off in the direction the monster unit is facing!) to add another element of strategy, and in later games monster units can be used as mounts, fuse together to make giant monsters, or turn into weapons and equip to a humanoid unit for a limited amount of time. There are also Geo Panels, tiles that are specially coloured, and the prescence of a Geo Block in a coloured tile gives a special effect to ALL tiles of that colour, be it extra XP, invincibility, bonus stats, etc.
Also your level can go up to 9999, your stats can hit the hundreds of millions, and damage can reach BILLIONS if you grind hard enough. Yes, this game has a lot of grinding, and honestly? It’s one of the things I love most about it. The game is absolutely unashamed of its grindy nature, and even leans into it, giving you the occasional stage that has the PERFECT setup for level/money/mana/etc grinding.
Then you need to consider that every item you can use and every item you can equip has an item world inside it, and the further you go into the item world of an item, the more it levels up and the stronger it (and the character that equips it) becomes! They say World of Warcraft is a game that really begins at max level (debatable but there you go) but this is a game where you hit max level, reincarnate to reset your level to 1, then RELEVEL TO 9999 with increased stats and weapon masteries, gaining bonus stats for how many levels you’ve gained on that character, up to a maximum of 186000 levels.
But What’s The Story?
Demon Prince Laharl awakens from a 2 year slumber (an extreme length of time, yes, but it’s later discovered it was due to NEFARIOUS REASONS) to discover his father, Overlord King Krichevskoy, has tragically died. Laharl therefore sets out to become the undisputed overlord of the Netherworld and along the way learns the meaning of love.
I mean, kind of. He IS an evil demon. Though I think it’s important to stress that the vast majority of demons are evil in a sort of nominal way. There’s no eating babies or rampant murder, but…
Like, silly evil. The overarching message of the game is that there is good in everything and everyone. Except Vulcanus. Fuck that guy.
- Laharl, wannabe overlord, voiced by Rita Repulsa.
- Etna, vassal of the wannabe overlord, voiced by Crimson Viper.
- Flonne, love freak, voiced by Sailor Chibi Moon.
- CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH!, voiced by Deathwing.
- Jennifer, sidekick of CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH!, voiced by Jihl Nabaat.
- Thursday, robot sidekick of CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH!, voiced by Zhang Fei.
- Kurtis, mad scientist cyborg dude with a Tragic Past, voiced by Baine Bloodhoof.
Dark Adonis VyersMid Boss, likes peppering French into his speech, voiced by Kilik.
- Seraph Lamington, a seraph but not a lamington, voiced by JARAXXUS, EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING LEGION.
- Archangel Vulcanus, an asshole who just LOOKS evil, voiced by General Nazgrim.
Why I Does Love It
I do love a good grind, but there’s more than just that. The story is hilarious, but also capable of ripping your heart out and crushing it (watch out for the Red Moon chapter, and the scene before the final boss, they will break even the hardest of hearts). The characters are wonderfully thought out and develop as the story goes on. The gameplay has a lot of tactical nuance to it, unless you deliberately overlevel and stomp everything, which is entirely your choice! The game encourages you to take the path you want.
I’m a sucker for a class-based combat system and my GOD are there classes here. 37 unique classes, each with 6 progressively stronger tiers, with unique stat growths, favoured weapon types, appearances and abilities. Spoilt. For. Choice.
I think I’ll close this post with my top 3 attacks from the Disgaea series as a whole, because there are some delightfully OTT ones and you know me, I live for OTT.
3) Asagi: Dead Hurdles
2) Zetta: One-Inch Zetta Beam
1) Gig: Murder Play
I’ve actually owned Vagrant Story 3 times now. I bought it when it first came out back in 2000. I was living in Cornwall at the time and I remember seeing it in the only video game shop in Newquay (which to my horror I learned last November is now a vape shop, because everything is becoming a vape shop nowadays) and wanting it.
“Squaresoft!” I thought. “They made Final Fantasies 7 and 8 and I loved those!”
So I bought it, and I just couldn’t get to grips with it. For so long I was used to turn-based combat with the ATB meters, and here we had this ACTION RPG, gasp shock and horror. I got to the Snowfly Forest and finally gave up. Traded that shit in for Final Fantasy 9 later that year.
Something about it stuck with me though, and so in 2001 I gave it another shot. I saw it in Game in Salisbury for dirt cheap (at this point, my father was entering his final year of service in the RAF and he was given the option of remaining in Cornwall for it, or returning to Amesbury in Wiltshire; he ended up choosing the latter) and thought “why not give it another go?”
Man oh man, am I glad I did. Having read up the mechanics of the game on GameFAQs, I was armed with a greater understanding of what to do and where to go, and could go about my merry way through the catacombs and streets of Lea Monde. Fuck the Snowfly Forest still though.
The third time I owned it? I bought it on the PS Vita so I can play it wherever I go.
The Setting of Vagrant Story
Set in Lea Monde, a city that, 25 years prior to the start of the game, suffered a terrible earthquake that destroyed much of the city and left the ground generally unstable. Lea Monde is part of the kingdom of Valendia, which was recently embroiled in a civil war between the Regency of Gurunas, and the noble houses under House Nalzarc. The rising of a cult known as Mullenkamp culminated in the son of Duke Bardorba, a key figure in the civil war and who now controls parliament behind the scenes, being kidnapped by cult leader Sydney and his right-hand man Hardin. They flee to Lea Monde, and in pursuit is you, Ashley Riot, Riskbreaker of the Valendia Knights of the Peace!
Then, shenanigans happen, shit goes down, the dead rise up and so on and so forth.
- Ashley Riot, he of the assless chaps apparently.
- Sidney Losstarot, who has metal arms like Jax from Mortal Kombat, minus the missiles.
- Romeo Guildenstern, massive asshole.
- Callo Merlose, damsel in distress.
- Jan Rosencrantz, also a massive asshole.
- John Hardin, who’s too old for this shit.
- Duke Bardorba, who spends the whole time in bed or something.
- Samantha, is useless.
- Joshua, a child, ugh.
- Tieger and Neesa, who have to share this bullet point, such is their joined-at-the-hip nature.
- Grissom, oops zombie.
- Duane of the Awful Hair
Why I Does Love It
It took a long-ass time to grow on me, it really did, but it eventually cemented its way into my heart as one of my favourite games of all time. Partly due to the amazing story, the stunning (at the time) graphics that, frankly, still hold up today, the wonderfully deep crafting and combat system that saw you creating different weapons for different situations (skeleton enemies? Smash them to bits with Blunt weapons! Armored? Find their weak points with Piercing weapons! Fleshy foes? Chop them up with Edged weapons! Throw magic around! PROSTASIA HERAKLES DEGENERATE TARNISH oh now I have no MP).
The game has a really strong visual design that almost emulates a comic book, with the speech bubbles and whatnot, the language used is flowery and almost ye olde Englishe but without tipping into triteness as it so often does in other games that try to use it. There’s also a sense in-game that nothing is wasted; loot a crossbow but don’t need it? Break it down into parts and use them to forge a new one! Add in gems to increase or decrease various affinities, making them more useful against this enemy type or that enemy element. Upgrade armour, upgrade shields, upgrade weaponry. Not prepared for a fight? That’s on you; the game gave you what you needed, you just haven’t assembled it yet.
There is no voice acting, yet every character is acted perfectly. Again, the comic book look really lends itself to this feeling.
According to Yasumi Matsuno, the game’s writer and designer, in order to hit release date they had to cut out quite a lot of stuff; almost half the story and features. Half the story! The game could have been so much MORE and it was already amazingly detailed, with twists and turns galore. If only they did a remake of it; one that saw these cut story threads and lost features brought back in.
Now that I’d be so down for. With next year being the 20th year since its release, maybe Square Enix would do something to commemorate one of the greatest games ever made, one of the original Playstation’s swansongs as we headed into the PS2 era.
One can only hope.
1920×1080. The end.
…Okay, no. We live in a time when new games are released almost daily, and periodically some of those games are made dirt cheap. They come down in price, we buy them in absolute droves, then we never play them. Maybe we just have no time to, maybe we’re playing other, more persistent games, like MMOs or things like Civilization. Maybe it’s just a mistaken purchase, who knows.
I too have a gaming backlog, and starting soon, I aim to begin clearing it. Let’s look at what’s in store, shall we?
- Monster Hunter: World (one of the more persistent games in the list, but I’m not through the main story yet. I’m on the part where you first get to kill Nergigante)
- Final Fantasy XV (I think I’ve just encountered Ramuh?)
- Saint’s Row IV
- Torchlight 2
- Deadly Premonition
- Assassin’s Creed: Origins
So at some point I will start on this list. Maybe not this week though, as I only have one day off (Wednesday) and then my pre-Christmas 4am shifts start at work. Only 4 of them this year though!
Never work in retail, it’s a thankless job.
Now back to Civilization. I’m playing as Iceland!