Author Archives: ikralla

About ikralla

I'm a guy who plays World of Warcraft quite a bit. Mostly as a warlock, though I dabble in other classes, mainly so I can transmog them into horrifying armor sets. By no means a hardcore player, I'm a pretty social/casual WoWer, in a guild with a similar mentality. We raid once a week in flex mode, by gum. We wanna move into normals, and the core members of our team have the item level for it, but we are ALWAYS a tank and a healer short. I must confess, ever since Mists was released, I've been obsessed with Pandaren, and how pretty they are. I swear once the new character models come out for the rest of the races, I'll post more pictures of them.

Football Manager: (Weald)Stonehenge

We left off with us sitting pretty in second, with the expectation to “avoid relegation.” I think we’re managing that so far, aren’t we?

SOLIHULL MOORS (predicted finish: 6th)

And so to the West Midlands we go. Solihull Moors are one of the more recently founded clubs, established in 2007 as the merger between Solihull Borough FC and Moor Green FC. Moor Green’s original stadium was the target of an arson attack, and so they had to temporarily relocate their home games to Damson Park, home of Solihull Borough, their local rivals. Rebuilding The Moorlands was determined to be financially unviable, as was building a new stadium, so they applied to the FA to be allowed to merge with Solihull Borough. It was agreed, and the club lives on, like a footballing chimera!

Still, sob stories aside, it’s time to smash them into the ground.

Good at being in the right place at the right time, but shonky goalkeeping. Sounds like something I can work with!

We both tend to get more shots per game than most other teams, but Solihull Moors are a little more wasteful with them.

Turns out Wealdstone were to be the wasteful ones on this day! I’d say we outplayed them, but football do be like that sometimes. We’re fouling a HELL of a lot more than our opponents too.

Both of Danny’s goals were in off the post, it’s like the woodwork is our twelfth man. Thanks, post! Thost!

A little Look Around You reference there. Image source

Still, there’s much we can glean from defeat. We could do with being a little tighter at the back, given that we have conceded in all four of our matches this season! Still, there’s not much cause for concern yet, no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

We were better in every metric except the one that matters!

TORQUAY (predicted finish: 11th)

Now there’s a strong colour scheme

No arson attacks befell Torquay, thankfully, so they’ve had no need to merge with another club. Currently teetering above the relegation zone in 20th, they’re not exactly expected to be a challenge. Still, I wasn’t expecting to lose to Solihull Moors either so…

Strong work ethic, no flair or determination. Sounds like me at Tesco!

We’re both aggressive when it comes to taking chances, but Torquay are a little more scattershot, with us being slightly more clinical. Hopefully that won’t change today!

The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round draw also happens to be today, and we’re the first team out the hat! And we face a team in a league under us, phew.

This match takes place in nine days, and we’re expected to beat them to get to the first round proper, then we can crash out in style versus, I don’t know, Accrington Stanley.

Torquay are seen as the overwhelming favourites for this match, I can’t wait to prove the oddsmakers wrong!

Social media in a nutsell

Another narrow defeat, another team we were a little better than. Scoring an early goal was great! Conceding one 5 minutes later was not! None of my players performed overwhelmingly badly either, they were just more clinical on the day. The one time they were!

Still, none of this yet constitutes a crisis at the club. We’re sixth, the board aren’t unhappy even with the defeats, they’re just happy we held our own “against a bigger team”

DARTFORD

This is who we have to beat to get to the first round of the FA Cup. They’re based in the Vanarama National League South, the league below us. The National League (formerly known as the Conference) is the start of what is called the non-league system, and works in a pyramid shape, unlike the column-esque structiure of the English Football League (or EFL).

The National League is tier five of the English football system (the previous tiers consisting of the Premier League, the Championship, League One, and League Two), and that’s where Wealdstone sit. Dartford are in the National League South, in tier six. Each tier gets more and more regional as you go down. There’s so much geographical juggling that has to go on when teams move between divisions that it frankly boggles the mind. What happens if, as in the aftermath of the 2018-2019 season, all four teams relegated from the National League are geographically based in the south? They can’t ALL go into the National League South!

To be honest, even after searching for ages, I got confused. All I can tell is Maidstone, Braintree, and Havant & Waterlooville went down into the National League South. Aldershot were granted a reprieve, and instead, Gateshead Town got relegated in their place to the National League North, due to financial irregularities, always a big no-no in football (RIP Bury, Bolton nearly succumbed to this too). As a result of there being three teams going from the Premier to the South League, a team already in the National League South (Gloucester City) got transferred to the National League North, to help balance the numbers.

Gloucestershire sits in that purple region, known as the Border Counties, meaning they are eligible to be moved around the divisons as needed. It’s a sort-of sideways promotion, I suppose. They get to face 21 different clubs in the following season, it keeps everything fresh for them. Lucky! The other club that was eligible for moving was Oxford City, I can only assume they weren’t chosen because Gloucester is a smidgen north of them.

ANYWAY, this is all distracting me from…

DARTFORD (again)

This is a team we really should be beating. They’re in a lower divison, even if my performance analyst thinks otherwise.

Screw you, Stewart Craggs!

They may have beaten the mighty Taunton and Bognor Regis, but we scalped Woking earlier this month, so who can say what will happen?

I mean, I called it, yeah?

Okimo’s goal was a sheer delight though. He obviously intended the ball to find a player, instead the goalie went after it, couldn’t quite catch it, and it just calmly rolled into the net!

Sorry not sorry

You can see why the media described it as a “freak goal” and also why he got man of the match. A perfect defender!

EASTLEIGH (predicted finish: 13th)

*plane noises*

Nicknamed the Spitfires, because the aeroplane of the same name was built in Southampton, and first flew from Eastleigh Aerodrome, they are currently sitting pretty in second place, having won four of their five opening matches. A tough nut to crack, then?

They’re fit and make good decisions. Like a football team equivalent of me! (#delusion) Conversely, they don’t have a high work rate, and they’re not good at dealing with assists from outside the penalty area. I tell my players to shoot on sight! We’re golden!

We overall get more shots than them, but we have the same conversion rate as a percentage. We’re rapidly going from being clinical to wasteful! But the amount of shots we get seems to mean we’re going for a “throw everything, because SOMETHING will hit” mentality. As long as the shots don’t dry up, I’m happy!

A slight point of concern?

I’m considering dropping Efete to the bench for this one, he’s bringing us down! He’s not had a rating higher than 6.9, even in matches we’ve won comfortably in, and in our losses was actively bad. I’ll probably chuck in Charlie Amankwah or Zaid Vanderhyde from the youth team! See if they can challenge for a place!

In the meantime, the FA Cup First Round draw took place, and we get a team from the league above us!

We have two weeks and three matches before that happens. Let’s go!

That’s the half time stats. Grim. Literally no highlights were played, and the same happened in the second half!

Not every match is a 5-goal bonanza, but I can’t help but feel aggravated by this, even more than if I had lost!

also that gamble did NOT pay off.

THE STATE OF THINGS

We’ve reached our minimum requirement for the FA Cup, and honestly we stand a chance against Stevenage. We could have been up against a League One team!

Sitting 7th in the league is a good achievement, considering where we were expected to be, so there is no crisis, everything is looking swell.

Given the amount of times I select “arms outstretched” in team talks, I’m fairly certain my team sees me as this:

The atmosphere is positive, the support of me is increasing, they’re slowly getting over the fact I know nothing and getting behind me! Hopefully, things will only improve!

Football Manager: (Weald)Stone the Crows!

SEPTEMBER

Do you remember? The 21st night of September? Well, nothing remarkable happened at Wealdstone at that point, but two days prior we did stumble to a 2-2 draw against Alfreton.

We had a missed penalty AND a disallowed goal too, so it’s not like we’re struggling at the moment, we just have decisions going against us. Bloody refs!

All in all though, pre-season was a bit of a success for me. September contained seven matches, we won four, drew one, and lost two, though to be fair to me, that first loss was before I had even taken control so you can’t blame me, nuh-uh.

We were beaten by our own reserves? I’ll gloss over that!

I have decided to adopt a “route one” style of football. For those of you who do not know, the gist of route one football is “get the ball to someone up front, that person then tries to hammer it into the goal by any means” and is generally seen as an unsophisticated, almost ugly style of play compared to the tiki taka that Barcelona like to indulge in (or Arsenal attempt to), or the gegenpressing of any team Jurgen Klopp manages. Rather than swift passing of the ball among players, route one sees you hoof it up and hope for the best.

The description of R1 in game is a lot more diplomatic than most would use

Wealdstone are a semi-professional club, half our players probably have other jobs, we don’t have a full-time training schedule that can help build the technical knowledge or the physical attributes of the more “glamorous” styles of football. When you can only do two training sessions a week, those need to be spent on some more basic things, and so we adopt the basic play style, and it has worked for us so far!

However, a new month brings the start of the new season, and we first go to…

CHESTERFIELD (predicted finish: 7th)

Or rather, they come to us. First, we get a scouting report, courtesy of Hakeem Bennett. Thanks Hakeem!

They’re good at off-the-ball movement, so they know where they need to be and where they need to go, and their goalies are good at throwing. Conversely, their agility is bad (old, old men), and they have a weakness down their left side. I can take advantage of that!

Hey look, they think they’re Liverpool! Seriously though, Chesterfield may be more able to get away with gegenpressing, as they’re a full-time professional club, who get to keep their players for training more often, so they can build up the high fitness levels required for the tactic to actually work. If they gegenpress the entire season though? I can see that backfiring!

The media have touted us as slight underdogs in this match, and I can live with that. When we win, we can get the “plucky, spirited underdog” story that we all love to see, and Chesterfield can be the terrible villains of the piece.

Highlights of the match? We get a yellow card in the SECOND MINUTE, a goal disallowed in the sixth, and then we score two proper goals in the 13th and 15th minutes! Matt Lench (assist by Dan Wishart) and Josh Meekings (assist by Matt Lench) are the goal heroes, with both being on their debut match!

A reminder to properly set up your set pieces!

The rest of the half is relatively uneventful, and indeed most of the second half, up until Jak McCourt decides to go in double-footed on Moses Emmanuel, then a couple of late, LATE goals

When you see a highlight in the 90th +3 minute at 2-1, you really do fear the worst, especially when that highlight starts near your goal! Thankfully, Harry Isted managed to save the shot, we broke back up the field and Ross Lafayette restored our two goal lead! His expected playing time is “impact sub” and I think you can agree, he came on and made that damn impact!

NOTTS COUNTY (predicted finish: 2nd)

The match schedulers are not giving us an easy opening to this season are they? Anyway.

Basically, great at attacking, defensively poor? That’s what I get from this. If we pressure their goalie, we’ll do well here. This match comes a mere three days after our opener, so both teams will have to combat the fatigue that comes with a packed schedule (we have EIGHT MATCHES in this month alone!) and that comes with…

INCREASED INJURY RISK!

I’m sure we’ll be fine though.

Unexpected windfall!

The day before the match, we get a little surprise in the mailbox! This £55,000 trebles the bank balance of Wealdstone! Thanks Cardiff! Feel free to send more money my way!

Phil Parkinson of Altrincham has said Wealdstone will “make a good go of [survival] but ultimately come up short.” Shady bitch! So naturally I responded “if you wanna look at clubs that won’t survive, motherfucker should look a little closer to home!”

I’m paraphrasing slightly.

I can’t wait to meet Altrincham now, I’m putting a pin in the calendar at December 5th, we’re gonna rock their world. But I suppose we have a match now to focus on, ugh.

And would you look at that? A beautiful sight! Danny Parish getting both goals, one from close range, and another cannoned in from the edge of the box! A large number of fouls, but nobody sent off yet, which means we get stuck in, but we don’t take it too far.

At least I hope not.

WOKING (predicted finish: 16th)

A team more around our supposed level, Woking are kinda mainstays in the National League, ever since they got there. They got demoted a few years ago, but climbed their way back in the very next season, so they’re almost part of the furniture of this league.

Goalies are good at chattin’ but they don’t do good from long range. Gotcha. According to their tactical report, they also like to engage in Route One football! This is going to be the ugliest game!

Important to remember that this is FM21, and Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny have not yet bought Wrexham, but are in the early stages of doing so, and I guess here it begins! That’s nothing to do with us though, so let’s work on Woking!

It started off badly, one of those highlights that starts with you about to score, until they suddenly get the ball and take off with it like a rocket. We won with a lower xG rating (xG being a new metric introduced in FM21 called Expected Goals, which to make a long, complicated story short, is a way of measuring not only the chances you take, but also the quality of those chances, usually taking into account angle, position, number of players between ball and goal, etc) which is always encouraging. We’re making the most of the chances we get, and the opponents are not!

THE TABLE SO FAR

Oh look at that, predicted to finish nineteenth, but sitting pretty in second! Of couse, three matches into a season is not comparable to what the situation may be after the full forty four, but we’re making a good account of ourselves versus teams that are supposed to be better than us! I can see that Wrexham are going to be the team to beat though, I wonder when we face them?

Ahh, next month! I really cannot wait!

Football Manager: A Personal Challenge

Recently, at work, I have been sneakily listening to podcasts and music, even though I technically shouldn’t be. The perks of having long hair and a usually positive work ethic I suppose. Anyway, I recently discovered the existence of a new podcast.

https://theathletic.com/podcast/237-the-football-manager-show-by-the-athletic/

It’s hosted by a guy named Iain Macintosh, someone who knows their shit when it comes to both Football Manager (given he has written several books on the subject) AND football in general, and it’s overall a really good listen, so I heartily recommend it.

I’m not here to plug a podcast though, I’m here to talk about the fact it made me want to play Football Manager again, given that I hadn’t for a few months. I’m still on the FM21 version, because I tend to buy every other version of the game, rather than every one, and I’ve sunk a comparitvely small amount of hours into it compared to some people.

Here’s my playtime compared to my most played on Steam!

Still, I’ve been rebitten by the bug, and now I’m well stuck in and can’t get out. Not that I want to!

Initially I was going to take over Bolton, given that it’s the team I support, but Ian Evatt is doing such a good job there IRL that I’d feel bad about deposing him in favour of myself, given that I’ve set my badges to zero and my footballing experience to Sunday League Player, because who doesn’t like a challenge?

Behold my stats and weep

So I decided to do something I’ve not done before, and start off unemployed! I fired up the game with a few leagues active:

  • England: Premier League to National League
  • Denmark: Superliga to 1 Division
  • Germany: Bundesliga to 3 Liga
  • Spain: First and Second Division
  • China: Super League and National First Division
  • South Korea: K League 1 and 2
  • Argentina: Premier Divison (Read Only)
  • Brazil: National First Division (Read Only)

There were 24 teams with vacant positions, and I applied for them all! Teams as varied as Wigan, Colchester, Australia Under 19’s, Hebei FC, and Arminia Bielefeld. I was rejected by most of them (understandable, look at my terrible stats!), but two teams at least offered an interview!

Wealdstone are apprehensive as I am unproven in the task of guiding teams out of relegation (and rather diplomatically not saying “unproven in fucking anything”), whereas NMG Hohhot see me ideal “due to the club’s scaled-back vision for the future.” The fact that the real life club was disqualified from the 2021 season (along with 5 other clubs!) due to financial difficulties, and thusly dissolved, is not a concern for me.

Of course, as soon as I leave my Wealdstone interview, the filthy jackals that are the media are immediately waiting for me!

One foot out the door and already they circle!

I tell them that I would be interested in the role, of course, why would I be there if I wasn’t? Gotta claw my way into management somehow! And lo and behold:

Shock!

Hohhot offer me the job! Naturally I ask for a delay of a week in my decision, to see if Wealdstone get back to me, but honestly the promise of a £62,000+ wage budget vs Wealdstone’s sub-£9k is a tempting lure! While waiting however, Dover get back to me!

They took their sweet time getting back to me

The interview starts with the chairman shading their former manager:

“he was shit, tell us if you will be” uh sure

The next day, Wealdstone also decide they want my “talents” and so now I have a decision to make. Ruislip, or Inner Mongolia? Hohhot have a particular ask of their managers, however:

Just goalie!

They have a policy of signing youth players, probably looking to build for the future. A good aim, that’s something I tend towards in Football Manager in general, signing youth, developing them, having them lead us to glory, then I sell them when they’re at their highest value! But the “cannot sign non-Chinese goalkeepers” amuses me, as they place such a strong emphasis on that, more than the youth policy!

In the end, Dover hire Steve Claridge (the manager of Salisbury FC, my old hometown team before I moved to Cardiff), so I went with Wealdstone.

The first step of many!

We’re in the same division, Dover and I. We play them on the 2nd of January, well into the season. I can’t wait to show them what they missed out on!

And here’s where the media think we’ll finish, out of 23 teams:

19th is where I am now! Because the pre-season table is alphabetically arranged

And as a quick send-off, here’s what the club wants from me, long-term:

A realistic vision!

Who knows, perhaps I can exceed these expectations! Prove EVERYONE wrong!

Shadowlands Covenants, Ranked!

It has been such a long time since I last wrote something here (July?!), and a lot has happened!

  • I didn’t go on holiday!
  • I caught the dreaded coronavirus!
  • I got banned off Twitter for 2+ weeks! For merely mentioning covid!
  • I lost my writing mojo! I just couldn’t bring myself to do it!
  • Opinions are hard!
  • Help!

Such larks we had! We also got a cat, he’s called Muffin and he’s adorable. He’s also not why we’re here. Today, I am ranking the four Shadowlands covenants that you can join, based on a nebulous, ever-shifting criteria that will only make sense to me!

And so, to THE WORST:

4: NIGHT FAE

These fairies suck. The tree people are nightmarish. Too many worms. Ugh the Drust are back? They were boring the last time around! Mists of Tirna Scithe is a shit dungeon! I hated the ability I got! YOU TOOK URSOC AWAY FROM US YOU BASTARDS I HATE YOU SO MUCH!

Um, sorry about that.

3: KYRIAN

Yes, it’s the cast of the video for One More Time by Daft Punk. See also: Blue Man Group, Tobias when painted blue in Arrested Development, Avatar, or the song Blue by Eiffel 65.

I dunno, I just found Bastion a major slog, and while there were elements of the Kyrians themselves I liked, I found myself liking the others far more.

2: NECROLORDS

I admit that before I actually played through the expansion, Maldraxxus looked a bit bleak and boring, and I was dreading having to go there. Then, everyone there turned out to be rock & roll zombies, Marileth and Kevin are general high points of the expansion itself, and I just generally had a good ol’ time! Appearing there and immediately participating in a massive colosseum brawl was a fantastic start to what turned out to be a fantastic place!

1: VENTHYR

Top 20 Evilest Anime Characters Ranked! (UPDATED) - Spoiler Guy

But they’re not party vampires, are they?

Okay, so I fell in love with the Venthyr when Afterlives: Revendreth came out. Vampires, decadence, the concept of redemption for one’s sins, the fact that Revendreth kinda has Darkest Dungeon vibes, it’s all a tick in the box for me. I enjoyed the characters there far more than the others, I enjoy throwing parties at the Ember Court, and Door of Shadows is awesome-looking! MELT INTO BLOOD AND REAPPEAR! It’s a shame the covenant ability absolutely sucks ass for warlocks, but I am sure they’ll buff it eventually?

Right?

Mot, the King of Boss Fight Bullshittery

Boss fights. Gotta love ’em, that old staple trope of video games. You get to the end (or middle!) of a section of whatever game you are playing, and you’re faced with the end boss (or mid boss!). Some bosses are simple, others… less so.

Whether you’re facing off against a 100 year-old sniper capable of photosynthesising in a massive map with several sections that he of course can shoot you through, or the lone knight your main character fights mano a mano, or the robot that flat-out removes characters from the fight one by one, there are some bosses that are frustrating to fight.

And then there’s Mot.

MOT!

If you have played Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne on the PS2 way back in 2004, you’d know that this is a game where the bosses do NOT fuck around. Just about every boss in the game could conceivably be That One Boss in any other game, but ol’ Coffin Boy here takes the biscuit. Why so? Well, here’s a video showing you.

Well what the hell was going on there?! To explain why this boss is so stupidly broken, we need to go over Nocturne’s battle system.

Press Turn Battle System

See those little icons in the top right of the screen? Next to the word Player? These are your Turn Icons. Generally, you get one icon per member of your party, and when a party member does an action, it spends a Turn Icon. Depending on how the enemy is affected by said action, more icons or fewer icons can be used. An enemy dodges the attack or nullifies it? It actually uses TWO icons, not one. You hit an enemy with a critical hit or an elemental weakness, or pass to the next character? You use HALF an icon!

This also applies to your enemies, as you can see in the above gif. He has two turn icons at the start of his turn, he launches an attack, the attack is dodged, so both turn icons are spent!

In this gif, Titania hits Mot with his weakness, electricity, causing one of the Turn Icons not to be consumed, but to flash! This means it has been half consumed, so the next attack will use the rest of it. Targeting your opponents weaknesses is the key to maximising your turns; the more you make half icons, the more actions you can take before it’s your opponent’s turn.

While you get one Turn Icon per character on your team, bosses generally get 2 or more, by virtue of the fight being 1v4 so as to balance it, but some bosses (hello Mot) have an attack called Beast Eye. This takes a Turn Icon (or a Half Turn Icon!) and turns it into TWO Half Turn Icons. Now, generally this ability has rather a low priority in a boss’s moveset, because wouldn’t it be ever so frustrating if a boss were to just spam it constantly, giving them potentially near-infinite turns?

Hello Mot.

Back To Mot!

Here’s a short video of how the Mot fight can go if you’re relatively unlucky. I’ll give you a blow-by-blow!

  • Mot’s turn starts. 2 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 4 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja (buffs his magic stat). 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 4 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 2 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Beast Eye. 3 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 2 PT icons.
  • Mot uses Makakaja. 1 PT icon.
  • Mot uses Megadolaon. Kills the main character, thus triggering a Game Over.

Oh yes, even if you have other party members, if your main character falls in battle, it’s an instant game over. It makes sense with the mechanics of the game I guess; the other members of your party are demons you have summoned, so if you die, the demons would theoretically be dismissed, so they really cannot go on without you.

Mot seems to be programmed to use three attacks with absolute priority over his others. He has a physical attack and a Force-based magic, as well as a heal spell, but he tends to escew these in favour of increasing his Turn Icons, buffing his magic stat, then nuking you with Megidolaon, a magic attack of the Almighty element, an element that is treated as non-elemental, but also ignores repelling or absorbing abilities. Basically, these types of spell will always do damage unless it actively misses you.

So yes, we have a boss that can basically take an infinite number of actions per turn, or at least as many as it needs to outright kill you, without letting your party get an action in. In a game full of really difficult bosses (Matador, Trumpeter, Beelzebub, Baal, Noah, Lucifer), Mot is the boss that takes the game’s mechanics and happily abuses them, almost as much as the player does in any other game!

Truly, this coffin-monster is a reflection of humanity itself.

One Warrior Worth A Thousand

Back in the day, when I was at college, during lunch I went into Andover town centre and visited Gamestation (now GAME obviously), and picked up an interesting-looking game called Dynasty Warriors 3.

A variety of characters, hack-n-slashy action reminiscent of Devil May Cry, only with MANY foes at once, and the latest cutting-edge graphics!

I mean, this was late 2001, this was practically photorealistic for the time.

ANYWAY.

This game, this bloody game, sparked a love affair with this series that I’m still neck-deep in.

WHAT THE HELL IS IT?

Dynasty Warriors, made by Koei (later Tecmo Koei, even later Koei Tecmo), is an incredibly long-running hack ‘n’ slash series that serve as a spinoff from their Romance of the Three Kingdoms series of historical strategy games, themselves based off the Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, a historical novel mixed with the mythical and legendary stories of the era. The novel (and games) tell the story of the fall of the Han dynasty, sparked by the Yellow Turban Rebellion, the formation of three warring kingdoms seeking to unify China (Wei, Wu, Shu), and the eventual unification of China and the formation of the Jin dynasty by Sima Yan.

The books have a definite bias towards the Shu kingdom, glorifying Liu Bei and his people, while Wu and Wei (the latter in particular) serve as the antagonists, with their negative qualities enhanced and their positives minimized, especially when it comes to Cao Cao. Initially, the Dynasty Warriors games followed suit, with Cao Cao and Sima Yi being Very Definitely Evil, with their ambition and ruthlessness amplified.

Even in 9, Sima Yi looks like he enjoys evil laughter a little too much, but he’s not portrayed as evil, just ambitious

Later games in the series (6 onwards) would attempt to bring a more balanced approach to everyone’s portrayals, with Liu Bei’s more questionable qualities being highlighted (in particular, his tendency to be blinded by anger, which led to an absolutely devastating defeat at Yiling and Xiaoting), and Cao Cao’s more benevolent qualities also featuring (his penchant for seeing those who do good work to be properly rewarded, and to recognise and admit when he messed things up and accept criticism). This sees a slight divergence in characterization from the novels to more reflect real life, which is pretty damn cool to me.

FEEL THE POWER OF MY MAAAAAAAAAAGIIIIIIIC

The very first stage of most Dynasty Warriors games is the retelling of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, where Zhang Jiao, in a response to the increasing corruption of the Han dynasty thanks to treacherous eunuchs and officials, leads a peasant uprising in the hopes of overthrowing the evil empire. Under the imperial general He Jin, various lords and commoners alike unite to defeat them!

This was the first ever stage of a Dynasty Warriors game I had ever played, and I was probably playing as the series’ future poster boy, Zhao Yun.

He just radiates stoic heroism

Partway through the stage, you have to counteract the magic of Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang, magic that basically amounts to “make wind” and “drop rocks” but are utterly impeding the coalition forces, and once you get close enough to each Zhang brother, these scenes play:

It was right here, in this very moment, that I fell in love with the game. The overdramatization of it all, the entertainingly schloky voice acting, the intonation of the word MAAAAAAGIIIIIIIIC and the high-pitched “YOU FLAMING IDIOTS!”

I knew I was on to a winner, and then I played as Zhang He.

Real men wear pink. Real men wear high heels and ruffles and long hair. Real men have claws as weapons and dance around the battlefield like ballerinas, cutting down swathes in their wake. Real men ask if the enemy camp was pretty, and charge downhill like falling blossoms! REAL MEN APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF BOTH LIFE AND DEATH, AND ZHANG HE IS THE ONLY REAL MAN AMONG US.

His almost famous portrayal as this effeminate, beauty-obsessed, sharp-minded tactician and deadly warrior likely stems from a pun on his name in Japanese, Chō Kō, as Chō is how the word “butterfly” is pronounced in Japanese, so his name is literally “butterfly warrior” which obviously conjures up images of a graceful fighter, so they made his personality as flamboyant to match! He has been my favourite character ever since, with Sima Yi a close second.

Yes, he of the sinister laughter.

P-P-P-P-POWERRRRRR

The main draw for me of Dynasty Warriors, its sister title Samurai Warriors, and their crossover title Warriors Orochi, is the fact each game makes you feel immensely powerful. You are the warrior worth a thousand, you are the anchor which the hopes of your forces are pinned on, you are the difference, the strongest, the game-changer and the reason your side triumphs! You are single-handedly slaying hundreds, if not thousands, of enemies on each stage, turning the tide of the war and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat!

I recently purchased Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate, and I’ve been having an absolute blast with it. My current team (the game has 170+ characters, and you control 3 at a time, able to switch between them at will, even during combos!) is Zhou Tai, Lu Meng and Kojiro Sasaki, though Zhou Tai is the primarily used character at the moment.

A stoic, scarred warrior and former pirate that, despite being Chinese, uses a very distinctively Japanese sword and fighting style, because I love anachronistic stews.

Look at the arc of his attacks! How wide he slashes and how rapid! The speed at which he moves! No wonder he’s my most used.

Anyway, that’s why I love Dynasty Warriors and its related series. The power, the flamboyance, the wide attacking arcs and the historical significance of the era. Because of this game, I have read the books they’re based on (both the abridged and unabridged!), watched films based in the era (Red Cliff being a particular highlight), and taken a great interest in the Three Kingdoms period!

See, video games CAN be used for good!

Thirty

It’s the last day of the month. A pretty rotten April, all things considered, but didn’t it just fly by compared to the ten years of March? What has been a positive though is this is, as you can tell by the title, my thirtieth consecutive blog post! Certainly an achievement for me, because I tend to post very sporadically otherwise, so here’s hoping this spurs me to a more frequent schedule!

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

  • That one can make a post about pretty much anything, be it Animal Crossing, Final Fantasy, Ed Balls and Ken Livingstone, trashy TV, work, Indian food, even Princess Diana memorial plates.
  • That I should do it more often.
  • That I get easily distracted, and should probably close tabs not directly related to the post I am writing, lest I procrastinate.
  • i literally wrote that last point then went to Reddit.
  • That my ideal blog post length is roughly 500 words. Not too short, not too long.
  • That getting positive feedback gives me a warm snuggly feeling that I will forever chase.

YAKUZA

So a while back, one of the free games for being a PS Plus member was Yakuza Kiwami, the 2016 remake of the first Yakuza game, released on the PS2 way back in 2005. It’s a third-person action RPG set in Tokyo, and honestly it’s really damn fun to play! The combat is really over the top, the characters are beautifully animated and larger-than-life, and Goro Majima is a wonderfully crazy individual, fighting Kiryu to help him relearn his Dragon style that he lost in the ten years he spent in prison, so he can have one big, final showdown with them both at the peak of their strength!

Also eyepatch.

In fact, I am enjoying the game so much I want two things:

  • To play the other Yakuza games, so Yakuza Kiwami 2, Yakuza 0, the Remastered Collection, Yakuza 6, 0 and Like a Dragon! MANY GAMES TO PLAY.
  • For there to be a game similar to what they did with Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, where they basically made Yakuza, but with a Fist of the North Star coat on it, but instead of that anime, they do it for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
  • idk I think that’d work as well as it does for Fist of the North Star. Similarly OTT game and anime with great, memorable characters and a badass story.

OTHER STUFF

  • Tomorrow is my Monday. I have Wednesdays and Thursdays off from work, so we’re currently coming to the last part of my “weekend” and I’ve gotta go to bed soon.
  • Nook’s Cranny is closed for remodelling! My turnip prices were on a downward slope this week anyway (as per usual) so it’s not a big deal. Hope there’s some cool stuff in there tomorrow to make up for no shop today!
  • Tomorrow is May Day!

  • That’s right, the day where we honour the best Bond Girl (ish?) in all the Bond films, Mayday, played by the incomparable and iconic Grace Jones.

Twenty, But Also Nine

It’s going to be a Final Fantasy post, here. Why each game I have played is both the best and the worst in the series.

Despite the picture I’m not including the Dissidia games!

Final Fantasy I

  • BEST: I’m a sucker for a class system, and while you can’t change classes you can customise the party you take through the game, which means FULL WHITE MAGE PARTY CHALLENGE!
  • WORST: There’s a story there, sure, but it’s so so basic.

Final Fantasy II

  • BEST: The villain is basically David Bowie, and Minwu is badass.
  • WORST: The levelling system… kinda makes sense? Stats randomly increase as you use them, but it means one of the best ways of boosting stats is to beat up your own party members, and that wearies eventually.

Final Fantasy III

  • BEST: Oh look another job system! This time with classes that aren’t locked in forever!
  • WORST: That fucking Nepto Shrine where you have to mini yourself. NO THANKS.

Final Fantasy IV

  • BEST: YOU SPOONY BARD!
  • WORST: The game, at least in the SNES translation, seemed to never want to use words specifically related to dying or death, hence the wonderful lines like “fall flat in the deep ravine!” or “a girl from Baron was kept from falling down.”

Final Fantasy V

  • BEST: Another job system! Also Faris the pirate queen king and Gilgamesh rule.
  • WORST: idk Exdeath is pretty basic, but to be honest there’s not really anything overwhelmingly bad about this game.

Final Fantasy VI

  • BEST: You can suplex a train, have a moogle in your party, the villain is genuinely terrifying, you can break the game well and truly with the right equips and party setups, the music the story the characters the EVERYTHING.
  • WORST: That god damn Steam version looks terrible!

Final Fantasy VII

  • BEST: I mean, it has THAT emotional gut punch with THAT music playing as you face a boss before THAT super-sad cutscene, but… does it really compare to the fact that you can take Barret on the Gold Saucer date? No, I don’t think it does. Can’t wait for that in the remake!
  • WORST: Ugh the whole mountain climbing, warming yourself, ice cave, Malboro, Schizo fight section bums me the fuck out.

Final Fantasy VIII

  • BEST: TRIPLE TRIAD!
  • WORST: I dislike the fact that the enemies level with you, so to trivialise the game, you just don’t level, and use spell junctioning to compensate for the low stats, meaning NO USING YOUR SPELLS, meaning every fight is just basic attacks and limit breaks.

Final Fantasy IX

  • BEST: I recently talked about why it’s an amazing game, go read that. Also, another card game yay!
  • WORST: THE SKIPPING MINIGAME.

Final Fantasy X

  • BEST: This is a character driven story, and the characters are all bloody amazing, so while the game is relatively linear, it doesn’t FEEL it.
  • BONUS BEST: Blitzball is one of the best minigames. Fight me.
  • WORST: HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

Final Fantasy X-2

  • BEST: Job system! Also a fun and light-hearted take on Spira!
  • WORST: The final boss is a moth with a church organ on its back, come the fuck on.

Final Fantasy XII

  • BEST: The gambit system is actually a really cool way of doing AI team members! Give them commands they perform with a specific criteria in the order of necessity, and watch them go! Also the scene at the top of the Pharos at Ridorana with Cid, Gabranth etc is *chef kiss*
  • WORST: Vaan.

draw me like one of your french girls

Final Fantasy XIII

  • BEST: ?
  • WORST: It’s basically a pretty corridor for 20 hours, with the most cardboard protagonists ever.

Final Fantasy XIV

  • BEST: It’s an MMO! That means you can save the world as a group of friends LOOK FABULOUS ONLINE!
  • WORST: Can I justify two MMO subs a month? As well as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify? Probs not.

Final Fantasy XV

  • BEST: Hot boys car journey where you come up with new recipeeehhhhhs.
  • WORST: Is it even possible to lose the fights? I mean short of your AI comrades fucking up entirely, which they will frequently because somehow between 12 and 15, the series AI took a MAJOR step back. Look, just bring back the gambit system.

Final Fantasy Tactics

  • BEST: It’s the best because it is. It has the strongest story, a JOB SYSTEM which we know is important to me, and it has Agrias.
  • WORST: idk Argath’s a bit of a dick I guess, but on the upside you get to kill him! Twice! Three times if you include 14 as well!

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

  • BEST: Okay the job system is a given, but also how ridiculously overpowered you can make your characters, especially viera! Assassins with the Concentrate skill will blow the game WIDE!
  • WORST: Marche is the bad guy, let’s be real here.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: The Grimoire of the Rift

  • BEST: This time your main character is like “okay I DO need to go back home, but I’m gonna enjoy myself while I’m here!” and that’s actually refreshing compared to the last one, where the overarching message seemed to be “ESCAPISM IS BAD, CONFRONT PROBLEMS HEAD ON OR DIE” or something like that.
  • WORST: THEY NERFED ASSASSINS! Gosh darn it to FUCK.

Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII

  • BEST: idk, Vincent’s cool I guess.
  • WORST: oh my god everything, but the thing that bugged me most was that one character was called Rosso the Crimson. I’M SORRY, RED THE RED? GET OUT.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

  • BEST: You play as Zack! Also the combat system, besides the slot machine thing, is actually really good, despite it not being a traditional turn-based thing.
  • WORST: YOU KNOW HOW IT ENDS.

*SOBBING WILDLY*

 

Twenty Eight

Today is obviously Ed Balls Day, the national day commemorating that time Ed Balls was urged to search Twitter for himself by an assistant, but instead of typing his name in the search bar, he typed it in the New Tweet box.

And thus a British meme was born. Ed Balls even recreated the tweet in the form of cake during his appearance on The Great British Bake Off back in 2016!

These may be weird times, but our weird country has weird ways of coping with it all, even if that’s celebrating a holiday that isn’t actually an official holiday. So send those Ed Balls Day cards, bake those Ed Balls Day cakes, hang up the Ed Balls Day decorations and perform the Ed Balls Day ritual dance!

LIST OF THE BEST BOND THEMES WITH NO REASONING

  1. The Living Daylights by a-ha
  2. The World is Not Enough by Garbage
  3. A View to a Kill by Duran Duran
  4. GoldenEye by Tina Turner
  5. Skyfall by Adele

Tinta Turnter. Also I once saw someone refer to Adele’s vocals in Skyfall as having “weak delivery” and AHAHA OKAY THEN.

OTHER THINGS

It’s the anniversary of this iconic moment too. What a bizarre world we live in.

Basically, Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London and member of the Labour Party, mentioned Hitler in a radio interview about Israel.

When Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews

~Ken Livingstone on BBC Radio London

Shortly after saying that, there was a gaggle of reporters chasing after him asking him things, such that he hid in a toilet as they shouted questions at him through the door. Politics has never been quite as weird as that day.

FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS: DARK VISIONS

So 5 days ago, a new event in my mobile game started called Dark Visions, where you fight various enemies and are scored for doing so based on these criteria:

That score was for my kill of the final stage, Dark Ramuh, and here’s the screenshot of the kill for posterity:

I find this event really fun, though it does expose the strengths and weaknesses of my roster of units (I’m great for physical damage, lousy for magic damage and elemental flexibility!), and being able to fine-tune kills to get a better score is something really cool to do. For instance, this was my second kill of Ramuh, and I did a LOT better this time around.

That was my first kill, so I went from 14 turns down to 4 by replacing Elephim with Sylvie (who can do the buffs of Elephim, but also buff my physical/magical mitigations too, thus helping me take less damage) and replacing Folka (a healer who was only here to bring charm resist, as Summer Fina & Lid have a 20% chance to inflict that debilitating status effect when they use their party-wide water imbue) with Cid (a finisher who caps the chain made by Aldore King Rain and Hyoh for massive damage). Hyoh took over the turn 1 charm protection courtesy of the Lakshmi esper.

I went from doing not much damage every other turn, to taking Ramuh down from 100% to 6% on turn 3! TInkering! Gotta love it.

Twenty Seven

I forgot to have the ceremony for the museum upgrade yesterday! Thankfully, I could have it today instead, and look, all my villagers are here! Though Bettina is very short and so only her ears are visible from behind Bangle, and a tree partially obscures Sterling.

Also Isabelle and I are standing in the flowers, because fuck Nature apparently.

Tom Nook secretly loves how much Blathers talks, he is just loath to admit it. You know what, I’d play Smash Bros if Tom Nook was playable. Or Blathers. They are my favourites! Smash Ike in the face with Tom Nook’s coffee cup, have Blathers throw fake art as projectiles. He only throws fake ones though, the real ones are too precious!

OTHER STUFF

  • I’ve gone quite a few consecutive days with no fossils being accepted by Blathers, which I think means I’m getting close to completion! Exciting!
  • Tomorrow, I am going to download the Yakuza game I got for free from PS Plus a while back, because I have been meaning to play that for a while. I hear it’s a good series so I wanna jump in!
  • Spicy wedges.
  • I don’t have much to talk about today because I got home from work at 12:30, had lunch, then proceeded to have a nap for 4 hours. 4am starts combined with hayfever is slightly killing me.
  • I keep forgetting to take my anitihistamines in the morning help help.