Un’Goro Launch, Gaming Stock Update

elf waistcoat


Un’Goro XPack For Hearthstone


I haven’t posted in forever, so here goes.

Un’Goro launches for Hearthstone tomorrow. This xpack has (on average) the most powerful cards yet seen in Hearthstone. If you snooze, you’ll lose, and you’ll just keep losing. (It’s a trap.)

The good news is that if you’re a newer player, you can catch up faster because these cards are more powerful cards than 2016 cards, and the cards from 2015 are rotating out of Standard mode completely now.

I have almost 100 packs to open tomorrow morning, so that should be fun. Afterwards, I plan to take a break from the game and let everyone else figure out what decks I should be playing.

Hearthstone is an immature, somewhat toxic cross section of the human male species. The PvP aspect is also stressful and unhealthy. I want to work more on my personal project in the coming months.

I’ve been working on 2d art for 100 different character outfits: 50 female outfits and 50 male. I’m currently working on #43.

Right now I’m envisioning today’s male elves as lazy and pretentious, but very cool and kind hippies who wear waistcoats with folded, scented handkerchiefs (see above). This derives from fairy tales and books suggesting fey men wear antique waistcoats.

Women can wear pants, dresses, or whatever is sensible for the occasion, and I plan to give you a magical wardrobe that switches the gender of all of your clothes, if you would like to do so.

This is very time-consuming. After a month of doing only art, I want to get back to programming the features and gameplay. I’m honestly a little sick of make-believe. Those novels were a very, very long slog.


LotRO


I finished the main story of update 20 (Black Gate) with my Warden. I need to find the new gold shinies and work on getting those for Mordor.

I’m dual-boxing a 105 Captain with my 105 Warden. They’re kind of a “power couple,” and the “final answer” for my LotRO play going forward.


Gaming Stocks In The News


Admittedly I haven’t been super news-focused until the past week or two.

NVidia took a 7% loss yesterday on an analyst downgrade. Another analyst said a lot of people switched over from NVidia (stock) to AMD. AMD was the 4th best performer of the first quarter 2017.

Another guy said he was selling all semiconductors. Another expert said semiconductors are overdue for carnage, far outperforming the S&P. So now, at the time of most pessimism, is not the time to sell. I’m still in NVidia at a 6% loss on a small 50% holding (i.e. trivial, no worry, I can double down at a lower point.)

A few weeks ago Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company and owner of League of Legends, announced a partnership with NVidia. Tencent Cloud will adopt NVIDIA® Tesla® GPU accelerators.

“Tencent Cloud GPU offerings with NVIDIA’s deep learning platform will help companies in China rapidly integrate AI capabilities into their products and services,” said Sam Xie, vice president of Tencent Cloud. “Our customers will gain greater computing flexibility and power, giving them a powerful competitive advantage.”

This is in the context of China very much wanting to create its own chip industry, so it’s possible they just plan to study and steal all of NVidia’s secrets.

Tencent also announced a 5% stake in Tesla, the company, among its other businesses. Maybe Tencent confused Elon Musk’s car/energy company with NVidia Tesla chips, or maybe the name “Tesla” means Fabulous Rich Rabbit in Chinese. I have no idea.

I do know that Chinese companies are trying to get their money out of China, and one way is to invest in companies in other countries. Honestly Xi Jinping impresses me. He seems to be a serious fighter of corruption in China, just the opposite of Trump.

He strongly discourages golf in China as a wasteful game for the rich and corrupt. He has shut down scores of golf courses, which have become a symbol of excessive wealth and corruption. This looks like Communism actually working, to me, and Trump vs. Xi Jinping is looking more like a catastrophe.

Last and least, Gamestop reported disappointing sales this week, and they are closing 150 or so stores. This is the same old story of digital downloads and streaming content taking over.

In related news, Trump is canceling consumer protections for Internet privacy. So while you’re streaming, the big cable companies are watching you, recording your activity, and are now selling your browsing history and personal information to any bidder. So good job, Trump. You’re a real winner.


New Hearthstone X-Pack Leaked, Blizzard Crits Earnings, DA:I on EA:A, Etc.

king krush


Hearthstone “Lost Secrets of Un-Goro”


This week the new x-pack for Hearthstone may have been leaked by a voice actress resume, as reported on the Hearthstone subreddit.

The new card set appears to be themed from the Un-Goro crater area. This means a fertile green jungle with dinosaurs, Night Elf history, crystals, and scientists.

So basically a lot of my favorite things, except the insects. Those things are annoying! I turned back every time I reached Un-Goro in WoW, looking for better adventuring options elsewhere.

I do play Hunter sometimes in Hearthstone, and Hunter might make a comeback from the bottom of the current insanely unbalanced game. Existing dinosaurs in Hearthstone are typically Beast cards (i.e King Krush shown above.)

(I have the beautiful and hungry-looking King Krush card for Hunter, but it isn’t really playable.)

We also learned that Blizzard will finally balance the game a bit – at the end of February, not long before the next X-pack. You can do the math on that.


Gaming Stocks


Activision Blizzard (ATVI) stock ended Friday up 18% on better than expected earnings, crazy user statistics, and the announcement of plans for a $1B (?) stock buyback over the coming months.

So this was a good day. I think I spent $170 on Hearthstone last year, and Blizzard gave me like 200% cash back, plus a dividend.

On the other hand, my venture into Rambus (RMBS) two weeks ago was ill-timed, so I lost 6% on a medium bet. Rambus received a strong upgrade of support from J.P. Morgan yesterday, however, and it’s clearly coming back. Now would have been a better time to buy.

After a bit of experience my policy is to hit it, then hold or forget. This is a forget. I listened to the conference call live with the CEO and CFO, and I was unimpressed. Many other chip companies killed it this quarter while Rambus squeaked by using non-GAAP accounting. It seemed sketchy to my intuition.

I also mentioned Pepsi (PEP) two weeks ago, and it has surged strongly since then, but I’m wary of the inflated U.S. market. If you look at a long-term chart, the curve on the S&P is just too steep (etc. etc.).

There has to be a FOMO effect at this point, and Trump believers are notoriously dumb. 51% actually believe the (mythical) Bowling Green Massacre is real, and a reason why we need a travel ban.

Another question mark over Pepsi is Mondelez (MDLZ), which said last week in their earnings report that the U.S. environment for snack sales last quarter was very challenging, with strong promotions/discounts.


Dragon Age: Inquisition


This week I was looking for a new game, and I noticed DA:Inquisition is now on EA:Access for $5/month! This is by far the best deal I’ve seen. I’m looking forward to exploring EA Access games for a few months until Un’Goro, then Mordor.

Cheers and have a good weekend. Time for dragon slaying, and maybe a little courtly romance. Who knows.


Mordor And A New Playable Race Coming For LotRO: High Elf

hearthstone 1000 wins image spanish


LotRO: Mordor and High Elf


The Stones (Standing Stones Games) released their annual producer letter today, and it’s an eye-opener. The LotRO devs plan to release three updates this year. The dark Mordor expansion will be sandwiched right in the middle, like an Oreo cookie on Opposite Day.

My mind is more blown by a new playable race, coming as part of the effort to revamp the character models. This will be the High Elf, which Mirhaen in the LotRO forums speculates to be a Noldor Elf (Golodhrim) and gives this description:

They were also known as the Deep Elves. Deep meaning wise, as they were considered the great craftsmen, most learned and inventive of the Eldar. In the Third Age, they lived in Rivendell and Lindon. They were tall and muscular. Their hair was normally dark brown, but also red and silver white. Their eyes were grey or dark.

I’ve asked for an Elf Captain for a long time, but I just finished leveling my Woman Captain in the last few weeks! I literally just gave up on the idea this winter and pushed my 70 Captain the rest of the way, and now they do it! I can’t even cope with starting over again at this point.

I can’t imagine either how they will create a ‘High’ Elf race that is more desirable than the current one in appearance. They can improve the stats in a few minor ways, but probably few Elf fans want a much taller, bulkier avatar, except the males I guess.

Justin’s Massively article.


Hearthstone: Imbalance Insanity


This week I won my 1000th game of Hearthstone all-time, which was worth a screenshot. (In Spanish.)

Hearthstone is even more unbalanced than ever now. It’s like if you want to win, you have to play one of three classes. And if you want to win the most of those, you play Shaman. Their total package is just better.

When will Blizzard nerf? Never? It’s ridiculous, and I can only assume money is their motive. I’m only playing minimally now to complete free quests. Many games are like: ok that’s just ridiculous, you win. Repeat.

I keep adjusting my curve lower and lower to counter Warrior and Shaman, basically, and then I lose to most Rogues and Reno decks that draw board clears, taunts, and 4-health minions.

That said, I managed to get to Rank 12 without a lot of effort using Dragon Priest. I thought I’d work hard to get my 500 wins with Tyrande for the golden priest hero portrait, but Blizzard doesn’t give golden portraits to the special non-core heroes. So. Again, I love you Blizzard but. Whatev!


Gaming Stocks


Blizzard’s stock has been strong this week though. Reports show both Overwatch and Hearthstone sales have been very strong. Hearthstone is leading the CCG genre by far, with a surprisingly high level of monetization.

Also, I’m a small bet back into NVidia this week, catching the wave of this new upsurge after the pullback. I’ve made 4% on my investment in three days.

I took profits in Google, even though the results were better than they sounded on the surface yesterday. I’m happy with my set of stocks now, including Blizz, NVidia, and Tencent.

I might want to add back the XLK ETF to replace Google and lessen single-company headline risk of a Republican-dictated internet and China issues.

I’m also watching Silver metal, which is both defensive and industrial (i.e. solar); and Pepsi (PEP) for potable beverages in a polluted future. Pepsi has a picture-perfect long-term wedge forming up to a breakout soonish, and I like the CEO.

I’m also into Rambus (RMBS) this week on a breakout after a climax low. The kicker is that Rambus reports next week with similar chip industry exposure (I think) as Texas Instruments, which reported a very strong quarter. So we’ll see. I either lose 10% now or gain 100% eventually, same as NVidia.


Personal RPG Project: How I Overworked and Died


Little gaming, lots of developing in recent weeks. I’m working on your character’s bedroom. You’ll be able to redecorate, change wall art and wall colors. I have background music now thanks to some nice free use downloads.

I need to make the room more studious – more bookshelves, writing utensils, etc., besides your magical elven wardrobe holding your dresses and armors, and your Gnomish Safebox that holds your other valuables.

I uploaded a screenshot of the current character sheet to DeviantArt. Ok! Time for a lazy hobbit nap, and then back to work! Happy Friday, and Happy Gaming.


Gay Christmas, Blizzard; LotRO Goes Independent, Torment Has Release Date

tracer gay overwatch

Lots of game news this week! Today Blizzard released a new webcomic for Overwatch, and the internet is abuzz because, well, lesbian.

In an ideal world this would scarcely be news, but instead we have the usual bigots and homophobes commenting their denial, and probably far more keeping hatefully, or guiltily silent, if Trump’s election is any indication of the preponderance of these people in the American heartland.

Let’s just call the American heartland “Trumpland”.

Eurogamer reports that Russia is blocking the webcomic because it is illegal. Any gayness violates Russian laws against gay “propaganda”. So if you’re not following Garry Kasparov on Twitter, or otherwise have no clue about Russia, there you go.


Lord of the Rings Online


The LotRO team announced this week that they are buying out LotRO and DDO and forming an independent company called Standing Stone Games. SSG will be published by Daybreak.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, except for surprise. One has to think about the almost unthinkable idea that LotRO could keep running for years to come.

As long as my for-life sub keeps going, that’s fabulous. My second account subscription runs out in one month.

For more information, and a good rundown, check out Bludborn’s video on Youtube, or visit the LotRO forums, which of course exploded.


2017 RPG Lineup: Torment: Tides of Numenera Leads Off


Torment finally has a final release date of Feb. 28th, 2017. This is basically the only game I’m looking forward to, at the moment, in 2017. Mass Effect Andomeda is also out there, and Star Wars Battlefront is looking at a new installment for EA next fall.

There is also Bard’s Tale IV from Inxile, which seems low-budget, but that classic in Unreal Engine 4 is worth watching.


Hearthstone: Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan


Hearthstone released a new Xpack at the first of the month, ushering in some very powerful cards that completely defined a new meta. Unfortunately, data shows this is the most unbalanced class distribution that I’ve ever seen in any class-based game.

I have a feeling this was planned for the purposes of greed. And that’s why I’m betting on Blizzard. Unfortunately, my card packs from the preorder were horrible, so I’m a little limited.

Last night I installed one of Hearthstone’s competitors: Elder Scrolls Legends. I’m still learning the game, which is far more complex and interesting in mechanics than Hearthstone.

I’m really interested in creating Elf-only decks in Legends, which is surely possible because of a superabundance of pointy ears in Tamriel. On the other hand, ESL is missing a certain something.

One thing I’ve identified is that cards in ESL don’t feel like characters. In Hearthstone, you know who Loot Hoarder is, or Ragnaros, or Piloted Shredder. The cards feel more unique and special, as well as sparkly.

There are so many cards in ESL that they become more like regiments in a deck than close-knit teams. There are also a lot more “win more”cards so far, but ESL has a systemized comeback mechanic, rewarding more card draws as the opponent beats you further down. It’s also nice to be more flexible in the hero portrait you play.

I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of a “hero power”. Hearthstone’s hero powers strongly force classes into certain appropriate archetypes. Is that a good thing, or bad thing?

So this month a lot of good players have come back to Hearthstone, and I’m playing against T1 legend decks at rank 14-15, which is brutal. I may or may not repeat rank 10 again this month, despite having an official T2 deck with my dragon priest.


Gaming Stocks


NVidia’s stock continues to soar vertically in the Trump rally. AMD’s stock has tripled since I bought it a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, I sold both of those stocks a long time ago, because I failed to follow basic investing principles.

In my defense, NVidia is now more highly valued on earnings than Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft, and a big part of that is based on an idea that the future is smart cars and VR. I remain unconvinced. There is also rumor of a chip oversupply from NVidia right now, after a shockingly incredible quarterly report.

Here is a good article on NVidia.

I think 2017 is going to be a Trumper-Coaster of ups and downs. So I’m lurking, continuing to hold Blizzard and Tencent in my gaming stock portfolio.

Sony (SNE) has declined to reasonable levels along with the China markets in general, so I’m watching those to possibly add. I was up so far in Tencent that I’m still up even after the huge pullback.

Part of Tencent’s pullback may be due to new Chinese laws that require game companies to publish all loot box odds on their websites. I assume this will include Blizzard operating in China, so this may be news for Hearthstone, in terms of more transparency for odds when opening card packs.

I’m also back to working every day on my game project, at least a little, in addition to my lame, underpaid job.

Happy holidays, and a happy New Year.


Elf In Real Life: A Tree Is Injured! And Gaming News Update.

tree bus

My last post was four months today. Here is a quick update.

Yesterday a bus driver in Tennessee flipped a school bus full of kids into a tree, killing five children and injuring several others.

My first thought when seeing this news was to worry about the tree. How badly was the tree injured? Will it survive? I doubt if any of those humans care about the poor tree, which is the real victim of human carelessness.

So I’m making progress in becoming more like a real-life elf.


LotRO


I’ve also reached cap and geared up a 105 elf Warden and 105 elf Rune-Keeper in LotRO. I’m multi-boxing up a 90 Captain right now on a second account, and then I’ll be ready for Mordor.

LotRO has a Mordor map in-game now, which looks really grim, deadly, and impressive.

Who knows when that expansion will happen, but supposedly Turbine has extended the license for at least one more year. The end of LotRO is not immediately imminent.


Hearthstone


I’m playing Hearthstone now. I reached rank 14 tonight. I am balancing my anxiety meds to relax enough to not get stressed, but not be a zombie-like bad player either.

Blizzard finally released a female priest hero! And she’s an elf!! I was lucky enough to have an Amazon Prime membership to get Tyrande. (I’ve since cancelled that.)

I like Tyrande’s portrait, which isn’t as angry-boobed as the original female heroes, and her voice is nice and calm. I bless everyone I play – and then squelch them so they can’t taunt or otherwise spam immature human emotional emotes.

I pre-ordered the Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan expansion and bought 40 packs of Old Gods cards. Those cards gave me Twin Emperor Veklor, but C’Thun priest seems not too great against actual good decks in ranked play.

I crafted N’Zoth with the leftover dust though, enabling deathrattle decks. N’Zoth is a long-term keeper to use in Standard and in future Wild Mode for as long as Hearthstone is alive (unless the card gets nerfed, in which case I have the option to get 100% dust back.)

I’m not too excited about the Gadgetzan expansion yet, but clearly it will enable some new deck ideas, like secret mage, jade golem rogue, and more.


Activision Blizzard Stock


$ATVI has taken it on the face lately, the same as Electronic Arts stock. I was not in either of these stocks during this recent downturn, which was exacerbated by Trump’s victory, causing fears of a China trade war, which could slaughter gaming companies, and all tech companies doing big business in China.

I’ve nibbled half back into Activision Blizzard at this week, prepared to buy more if the stock goes down another 10%. I’m just surprised it took this long for the stock to crash this far. Apparently there are concerns now about Call of Duty sales in the UK. Or something.

I’m also still holding Chinese stock in Tencent, the world’s largest game company, which remains up 10% since I bought it. NVidia soared 25% on stunning results this quarter, but unfortunately I sold it along with Electronic Arts at the pre-election recent market top, which apparently was not the top for some stocks.

Also last week, I initiated small long-term positions in Facebook and Home Depot on their respective big selloffs.

Home Depot’s gain has matched Blizzard’ loss in the last week, so I’m breaking even as the market goes up. That’s never a great feeling. I’m also fairly exposed to potentially devastating Trump trade warfare between the U.S. and China (thus Home Depot), and warfare against an open internet.

Overall market valuations are very stretched right now compared to historical bull markets, but some analysts say tax breaks will boost the market significantly in terms of the current high P/E multiples.


Trump Presidency


Trump currently has his crazy truck in reverse on all of his major policy promises, except maybe NAFTA. He is even moderating on climate change already.

If he does follow through with bringing back the coal industry and making Sarah Palin the interior secretary (drill baby, drill), then a Trump presidency may actually be good for trees. (Surely he isn’t building his Mexico wall out of wood.)

Trees love carbon dioxide! They turn it into oxygen, and that’s how we are all breathing and alive right now. So go ahead and burn coal, President Trump. The polar ice caps will melt, the sea levels will flood the coasts, and the coral will die, but the trees will survive just fine.