Quit Horsing Around

There is a hilarious back story for the title of this post…or at least it is hilarious to me, but either way I will divulge into the details of it like I always do.  It hasn’t quite been a month since my last post, especially when you consider the fact that we are still in the month of March, but a fair amount of stuff has happened in that time as well.  I’ve picked up two new games, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Far Cry 5 and have managed to play them both a little.  Last week, some stranger by the name of FranticJ3 decided to show up at my house and stay for a week.  Magic and Borderlands shenanigans happened during this time.  A few other things have happened since my last post where I recount my experiences as a new person in the world of the SCA.  Like the fact I levelled up in real life.

To start, you will most likely see more of my nonsensical (at times) ramblings over here again.  Why is that?  Near the start of the month, the decision was made that Frantic Talks would be shutting down.  I must admit that it is sad to see it go, but the reasoning behind the decision is completely understandable in my mind.  If you do not look forward to doing something that is a hobby, then it is no longer a hobby anymore.  So with that said, any and all thoughts I have on a topic will now be posted here.  This also led me to do some thinking of my own and I have decided that, for a little while at least, I think I am going to just keep my writing to this place.  No, I am not going to be giving it up entirely; I just realized that while having a schedule to keep to for publishing stuff is nice, I enjoy writing at my own free will (obligatory Rush reference goes here) much more than I thought I did.  Plus it allows me to be more relaxed with my style and I can put in subtle (Read: stupid) references like the previous one that is a nod to the band Rush.  I have already started bringing back some of the more serious in tone posts with a topic in regards to my thoughts on homeschooling and I already have a few other things I want to talk about in a more serious manner.  The time I spent doing things for Frantic Talks was definitely fun and I enjoyed it.  It kept my writing skills from getting too rusty and it gave me the opportunity to do something I didn’t think I would ever do, host a podcast.

Now with all of that said, what have I actually been up to lately?  Let me start with some of the games I have been playing lately.  I mentioned that I had picked up both Far Cry 5 and Kingdom Come: Deliverance in the past couple of weeks.  As I am typing this, I am also currently playing Far Cry 5 and it has been a lot of fun so far.  The last Far Cry game I played was the third one when it came out and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I liked how it had the somewhat large open world feature and kind of let you play the game however you wanted to.  If you wanted to take out some outposts all Splinter Cell Sam Fisher-like, you could…or perhaps you preferred the method of charging in guns blazing, you could do that too.  Both of those options are available in 5, but it has been expanded to include literally anything you do in the game.  It’s kind of cool to try and sneak around a patrol while you are working your way from one town to another…only to have a bear come out of nowhere and make you give away your position.  Stupid bears…  You can also find various NPC’s throughout the game world that act as “Guns For Hire” and they are pretty much what their title says.  Think of them similar to companions in the Fallout series or any game that lets an AI character tag along with you.  So far I have yet to get any of the actual people, but I have managed to get one of the Fangs for Hire, which is basically the same as what I just described only in animal form.  Boomer, the dog that you can find, is an awesome companion but I feel like a horrible person when he runs off to attack an enemy only to get knocked away and injured.  Poor fella.

Overall I am really enjoying the game.  The open world environment is something that I have come to really enjoy in many of the games I play nowadays as I just enjoy running around doing whatever I want to in the game.  The story has been really interesting so far and, it kind of reminds me of the whole Waco, Texas thing that happened years ago in the real world.  Which is something I find kind of creepy and yet cool at the same time.  The introduction missions for the game really sets up the whole “this is a crazy cult we’re dealing with” vibe quite well and if you take into consideration what I just said about it reminding me of Waco, it can be a little surreal.  More so for the fact that, similar things have existed and probably still do exist to some extent outside of the virtual world.  Another thing I am really enjoying about the game is the soundtrack as it is really well done and sounds great.  I also am enjoying the customization options for the various weapons in the game.  They aren’t as in-depth as some other games I have played before but they give you varying options for sights to attach to your weapon and even things like a silencer…the big question is: which do you use, cylinder or square style?

The other new game I have been playing lately has been Kingdom Come: Deliverance.  I first found out about this game when I was standing in my local GameStop and they had some in-store ads playing about it.  If you know me personally, or have paid attention to some of my earlier posts, you know I’m huge into history.  So much so that I had kicked around the idea of changing my college major from Communications to History in hopes to live out my dream of being a…well, historian.  So naturally, when I found out that it was going to have a strong focus on being historically accurate, I was immediately intrigued by the game.  I have no idea how rooted in fact the story is, other than a lot of the major characters you meet were actual historical figures and a lot of the back story entries in the games’ codex are recaps of actual events that happened during the time period the game is set in.  From what little I have played of the story, it is interesting but I have to admit the overall theme of the plot seems to be your parents are killed by an invading army and you want revenge.  If that is how the story pans out, I’m going to be a bit disappointed I think.  I also am enjoying a lot of the attention to detail this game has throughout it.  Sure, it isn’t too terribly difficult to do a simple internet search and find the various pieces of armor that a soldiers armor was comprised of, but to actually have that affect your characters’ stats is something else.  It is usually the small things I enjoy about many of the games I played and Kingdom Come has a decent amount of small things that make me appreciate it for what it is.

However…this game also has some problems with it that might detract from the overall enjoyment one gets, including myself.  While I am not going to give you full a fledged review for the game, because I don’t do those anymore, there are some mechanics that just don’t feel right in my opinion.  The biggest one is that of lockpicking.

“Wait, lockpicking isn’t supposed to be easy!”

Yes, that is true however in games picking locks isn’t something that needs to complex in my mind.  In most games I have played where lockpicking is involved, you simply line up the pin (or whatever it is you’re using to pick the lock with) until you are able to turn the lock enough to open up the door or chest you probably aren’t looting.  With the lockpicking mechanic in Kingdom Come, you essentially have to do the same thing but you also have to rotate the pick as well all while continuing to keep everything lined up.  I honestly have no idea how difficult it is to pick a lock in real life, and I’m quite ok with that, but if a game mechanic is keeping you from progressing in the game something isn’t right in that situation.  No, “git gud” is not an applicable answer either.  Outside of other weird bugs and glitches, that so far has been my biggest complaint about the game.  On the up side though, it did provide me with a hilarious story to tell while trying to get out of the village of Talmberg to continue the story line quest.  Funnily enough, the title derives from this very incident.

Picture this, you just escaped from your home town that is currently being invaded by a bunch of mercenaries hired by another invading army (much invasion. wow.) and you flee for your life to a nearby village.  Which, conveniently takes you in and protects you from those dastardly mercenaries that are chasing you.  The leader of your home village comes by and gives the leader of Talmberg orders to continue protecting you and keep you safe at all costs…except you want to go home and bury your parents.  I can respect that motive.  Essentially you are like a prisoner in Talmberg, well, as much as being able to roam freely is being treated like a prisoner but you get the point.  So, you are not allowed to leave the town and put your parents to rest…unless you can find a way out.  The easiest way out is to just simply steal a set of armor from either a guard or the armory (or, armoury) but before you can do that you need to find some stuff to sell so you can buy lockpicks.  Which is where the topic of the previous paragraph originates from.  I spent an entire afternoon in this situation trying to figure out how to get out of this town without resorting to crime.  That meant I spent several hours trying to bribe the gate guard, trying to pick a lock on a chest, wondering why a chest in various YouTube videos I had seen was locked for me…wondering why the door that was open on my last save is now suddenly closed and locked.  Again, buying more lockpicks because I cannot get the hang of the lockpicking mechanic in this game to save my virtual life.  After spending several hours trying to get out of a metaphorical prison, I am starting to accept the fact that I will most likely never finish this game because I cannot escape the aforementioned metaphorical prison that is the village of Talmberg.

That is, until I ask Freakshow how he got past this point since I knew he has been playing the game as well.  His answer was “Threw my controller out the window after failing to pick the lock on the chest.”  Helpful.  He then tells me a few minutes later that he just simply jumped off the bridge and ran away.  This is the point in the story where I become a hardened criminal…and by that I mean I follow the advice of Freakshow (I could easily make a joke about me being a lemming here…) and jump off the bridge to escape.  When you do this, the guards treat you as an escaping convict which leads to the alarm being raised and the nearby patrolling guards to begin chasing you on foot much like a scene straight out of the TV show, COPS.  I successfully pass a simple speech check to tell a guard that caught up with me my actual intentions and he had pity on me and let me go.  For the moment, then when I continued to run towards my home village he caught up with me again and decided to fight.  After being beat senseless and dying, the checkpoint reloaded and I was in Talmberg once again.  I am starting to get annoyed at the fact there is no seemingly simple way to get out of this wretched place without making the townsfolk and guards hate you.  I say screw it, I don’t care anymore I just want to progress the story quest and move away from Talmberg.  Permanently.  Naturally, your next course of action should be to steal a horse from the middle of town and jump off the bridge again to escape while the guards continue to reenact a scene from COPS.  I’m still not sure how the horse didn’t get injured but hey I won’t complain.  Somehow this actually works and I escape the literal prison village of Talmberg…though I may have upset some people in the process.  Thus recounts the tale of how this posts title came to fruition and how I realize if you have a problem, just steal a horse.  It works 100% of the time.*

* Don’t actually do that…stealing things is wrong even it means giving you the ability to escape a fictional prison village.

Hilariously enough, after finishing the quest to bury your characters’ parents in the village of Skalitz you encounter a group of bandits that want to take everything you have.  Fighting them doesn’t go so well and they end up almost killing your character.  Luckily for you though, the awesome guards from the prison village of Talmberg show up and rescue you…wait…PLEASE DON’T TAKE ME BACK THERE!!!  So far it seems that an old friend of yours takes you back to their residence and you might very well be an indentured servant for them at this point.  I have yet to get back to playing the game to find out exactly what happens from this point on because some other game that has someone crying really far away for the fifth time came out.  The tl;dr version of this is while I enjoy the game for its historical accuracy, it has its faults which could ultimately detract from my overall enjoyment out of it.  If not, I’m going to have some amazing tales of stealing a bunch of horses probably.

One other thing that happened this month was that time where Frantic spent a week at my place.  We played a bunch of Borderlands 2 during that time, with equal parts of Magic thrown in as well.  There were also a couple of other deck building style games he brought from his collection that we played and they were fun to play.  I might see about adding the one we played, Pixel Glory, to my collection down the road.  With this game, you are basically going through a dungeon and trying to take out the various bosses that you encounter in it, plus the two final bosses that are there as well.  You start off by picking your spells, which the spell cards get shuffled up and you have cards that are numbered 1-9, you use the numbered cards to determine how much you want to “spend” in a round to get first pick.  For example, say there is a card that does three extra damage to a boss that is of a fire element and you really want that card over everyone else.  This is where you would spend a higher numbered card in hopes that no one “bids” higher than you.  Once you have spent all of your numbered cards in the auction you begin playing, the boss cards get shuffled and you draw three and place them face up.  These are the bosses you first fight, and as each boss gets defeated you replace it with another one until you eventually defeat them all and then you come to the final boss which I totally forgot the name of and then you defeat it.  It’s something along the lines of dungeon master and probably just as evil as some of them.  I believe in the one game we played Frantic won for having defeated the most bosses and I only defeated like three of them.

As I mentioned, we played a lot of Magic that week as well, specifically of the EDH variety.  I got to test out my Scion Flayers deck (there be dragons in this deck) for the first few games of the week and then gave my first deck I built, Thrax Metal, a try as well.  Scion did fairly well in those first games, but couldn’t actually get going early enough to be a threat and Thrax ran into the usual problem of “what are lands?”.  After this Frantic helped me reevaluate Thrax Metal and we did some work on it, I have yet to try it with these changes but I’m sure it will be better as I replaced a few weird cards and even added in some more lands to help with that.  The real fun part came from the deck we built while he was here.  It is the one I played around with the most after we got everything for it and put together because I wanted to know how to play it.  It features the partner commanders of Ravos and Ludevic, but I learned that the deck can function two ways.  The first being a sweet combo of Fleshwrither and Yore-Tiller Nephilim.  So how that works is you basically want to get Fleshwrither as soon as you can, there are cards that let you search your library for a card and then put it into your hand and then you can play that card when you are able to.  Fleshwrither’s ability is to sacrifice it, search your library for a creature card with a total converted mana cost (CMC) of four or less and then put that card into play.  Which rightfully you want Yore-Tiller to be that first card as whenever you deal combat damage to a player with it, you can return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield, tapped and attacking.  In a perfect world, you just keep sacrificing Fleshwrither to get your other creatures out and in play and then keep bringing it back with Yore-Tiller or whatever other tricks you have…like a certain commander that lets you bring back a creature from your graveyard on your upkeep.  Alternatively this deck has a cool way of finding answers to other things other players do.  It has a decent amount of ways to counter things at instant speed, which is great and has already worked for me.  The best way I have done this so far has been via using Sunforger which allows me to give +4/+0 to an equipped creature and if I pay 1R and 1W to unattach it from the currently equipped creature, I can then search my library for a red or white instant card with a CMC of four or less and play it without paying its mana cost.  Oh, you’re playing a board wipe spell?  How about no.

So yeah, that deck was a lot of fun to build and has been even more fun to play with so far.  I dare say it might be my favorite one to use as of right now.  I also was able to use Frantic’s Omnath deck that he has for a couple of games and I think I finally have a direction of where I want to go with mine when I build it.  I could easily just take and duplicate his deck but that’s not really fun in my mind.  Sure, I would have a decent deck that would do stuff but I also want to put my own spin on it.  My solution is to take some of the cards that I liked that are in his version of Omnath and pair those with things I think that would work well with the idea of what I want my Omnath to do.  His abilities are to create a 5/5 elemental creature token whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control and deal 3 damage to an opponent whenever an elemental of yours dies.  I want to play off of that first ability and amass a token army.  Or at least that is the hope, whether or not I would be able to do it…I have no idea.  We’ll find out at some point.  If you would like to browse the decklist for Ravos’ and Ludevic’s Funky Toolbox, you may do so by clicking on this pretty colored text.

I mentioned that we had played some Borderlands 2 during that week as well.  It has been a fairly standard play-through so far since we both started new characters.  I did my typical start a character then switch to another class around level ten that I always do when playing this game.  To be fair though, I cannot play as Zero and I enjoy playing as the Siren so much more.  We got up to about level 20 and all the way up to the last main story quest in the main game then we decided to give the Dragon’s Keep DLC a try…this was a mistake kind of.  Frantic has never played the DLC and he has wanted to for a while so we figured this would be the perfect time to do so.  The reason it was a mistake is despite what the internet says, the suggested level to start this DLC is certainly not between levels 20 and 30.  The first group of skeletons you come across are level 30 to 31…when you are only about level 23 you are not doing much of any damage to those enemies.  So we briefly enlisted the help of my dad who had a higher level character that helped us power through some of the base games quests to get us around level 30, then we were able to start the DLC’s campaign.  I also exposed Frantic to the awesome mini-game that I play whenever I come across one of the loot chests that has two dies on it.  Basically, to see who actually opens the chest we each roll a D20 and whoever has the highest roll gets to open it.  Since you can spend some Eridium (the games secondary currency) and roll two dice at the same time to hopefully increase your chance at better loot, we then roll a second time and the outcome determines whether or not we spend the extra Eridium; even number outcomes result in just opening the chest normally, odd numbered outcomes result in spending that Eridium.  It’s a fun little addition I made to make things different than just simply opening the chests as you come across them and as a bonus, it plays into the whole D&D theme of the DLC.

That is how my March went, lots of fun stuff happened and I know some of the fun stuff will continue.  I have every intent to continue writing and bringing those ramblings to here, but it definitely is going to be in a more laid back style.  Maybe I can use some of that time to try and resurrect some of the older one-off posts I tried to turn into series and bring them back because I enjoyed doing some of them.  I still do plan on doing my “serious topic” posts every once in a while yet, there are some things I have opinions on and I want to express those opinions at some point.  I honestly have no idea how often they will happen, but I imagine they won’t be too frequent.  The main reason I quit doing them on my old blog is due to the fact I was coming off as an angry person and I don’t want that to happen again.  So until next time, continue to have fun and enjoy what you are doing.  I don’t know why, but a phrase that I have a feeling some TV show host has said has been something I’ve caught on to saying now and then.  The adventure is out there, you just have to find it.

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