Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.


Final Super-Amazing Post, Then KKBB On Break

World of Warcraft Westfall Quest
This is my final commentary for a while, and I plan to go out with a fizzle of glory. I’ve known for a while that live streaming was going to kill written bloggers, and that’s happening. Or maybe I just suck. Let’s go to bullet points, then praise World of Warcraft writing, and lastly talk stocks.

  • Scientific American reported last month on studies of brain changes in gamers. Gamers who play fast shooter-type games are shown to get various mental benefits:
    1. Improved ability to focus on visual details.
    2. Higher sensitivity to contrasts.
    3. Better reaction time to sudden events.
    4. Better making of correct decisions under pressure.
    5. Visual search improvement.

    I have to wonder if there are any drawbacks, however, versus controls. Are these gamers developing nervous disorders, sleeping more poorly, or overeating, for example.

    Scientific American also reported on the serious health risks of poor sleep, since scientists have discovered that brains flush toxins (like beta amyloid, responsible for Alzheimers’s) mostly during sleep, through the newly discovered “glymphatic system“.

  • Korean voice actress fired. She tweeted herself wearing a shirt that said “Girls do not need a prince”. The Mary Sue observes that South Korea is a painfully repressive country with low rankings in gender equality, and where supposedly 80% of young adults want to move somewhere else.In response to the charges, the young woman said: “she is willing to take responsibility if she did anything wrong.” My reaction is the same as Mary Sue’s – …..
  • Overwatch. Kotaku reported today on the strong characterization of Overwatch’s new heal/snipe character, Ana. Ana is a complicated, deep older woman, in contrast to all the young, pretty characters more common in games. The players apparently love Ana as a character, and that’s totally awesome. That’s Blizzard.
  • Gaming Hypnosis. The dark wizard Vive has produced two new gaming files: Healslut, which gives you a sexy submissive thrill of service and pleasure for healing in video games; and Blog!, which gives you a thrill of submissive service for writing up helpful blog posts … like this one.Remember these hypnosis files are no joke. They seem to “wear off” fairly quickly, but training the brain with pleasure can have long-term subtle influences.

World of Warcraft Writing: Exemplary


This week I re-subbed to WoW, and was playing through Westfall with a Shaman to unlock the Lady Liadrin paladin hero in Hearthstone. I also ran many dungeons with my lovable Death Knight.

The blog image above is exemplary of Blizzard’s game writing, so I took a screenshot when I saw it. Here are the great techniques this MMO quest dialog employs, aside from the cute name:

  1. Sums up the story in case you forgot. This is so important, yet all RPG’s routinely ignore the fact that players start and stop the storylines – very often.
  2. Involves you, the player. You’re actually a part of this story. You feel important. You’re called by a term of endearment, a rookie. It’s the norm for the player to go through the motions like a quest drone, a one-dimensional gopher.
  3. A mystery to solve.  The writing ploy often used in some MMOs, but just as often underused.  There should always be mysteries in game worlds. There should always be a sense that you’re seeing only the tip of a vast, dark iceberg.
  4. Using named and non-named characters. Some RPG’s (and writing by George Martin) overload you with character names. Biobreak posted a short, cryptic comment on this last week.That snippet of dialog from Durance in Pillars of Eternity made a great impression on me when I saw it in-game, because it’s so true. It’s important to only use so many proper names that the reader can brain. Everyone else’s name should be a generic yet clever, subtle device to give a greater impression of the game setting, its population, and its prevailing ways and emotions.

Game Stocks


NVidia soared yet another 2.7% today, which is insane. Intel had modest results this week, but cloud results so far this earning season have been extremely strong, so maybe that’s helping NVidia. I was close to breaking down and selling Nvidia yesterday to protect ridiculous profits. I’m glad I held.

Curiously, AMD is also up over 100% in the last year, but I was impatient and sold my little speculative stake long before that happened.

My #1 mistake, by far, in the stock market is being impatient, afraid, not being confident of my picks. I would be up thousands since last year in Amazon, AT&T, and AMD, if I’d simply held onto those picks since last summer and not panicked.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) stock had goblin rocket boosters this week after showing off their cloud results, which I’ve noted a number of times on this blog as a tailwind. If you’re in MSFT, you’re golden. Unfortunately, at some point the cloud ramp-up is going to level out. Cloud margins will compress under more and more competition.

On the other hand, cloud providers have security services on their side. I thought it was so stupid last year when Wall Street analysts were talking seriously about up-and-coming internet security companies like Palo Alto and FireEye. Those companies were soaring.

Not so much anymore. It was clear to this kitty that the big cloud companies would reap the biggest profits in security services. That’s happening.

On the other hand, the HACK ETF is showing some very solid chart strength lately, so that diversified internet security play is something to look at if you like that sector for a future cyberpunk world. It’s too bad they don’t have holdings in Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, but at least Purefunds has big trading volume in that ETF, unlike in GAMR.

So I remain in Google, which is a rear-runner yet to really ramp up their cloud, despite having a strong position, and in Alibaba, which has a huge lead in China cloud.

A number of U.S. companies in the last two weeks, like Starbucks, have affirmed a very strong China this quarter, so I’m glad so far that I have a 25% weighting, but not in an ETF, since I’m afraid of the banks and insurance companies, which weigh heavily in China ETFs.

My China picks are Alibaba, China Mobile, and Tencent. I’ve looked at the Chinese solar stocks for various good reasons, like massive China pollution problems, but those companies have had issues, including some big names wanting to pull out of the U.S. market completely for some reason. The solar ETF (TAN) still seems like a solid pick that offers investment in a diversification of international companies.

On the topic of energy, due to oil prices breaking down this week and lackluster earnings results from Kinder Morgan (KMI), I sold that stock at a modest $100 profit before taxes. This paves the way for adding a sentimental favorite refining stock (VLO or TSO) if they ever turn around.

My only defensive stock now is Verizon (VZ), which was up strongly today on news that they are a likely buyer of Yahoo assets. I’m not sure it should be up on that, but I’ll take it. I’m a long term heavy user of Yahoo-owned Tumblr, so it would be nice to be invested, even if it’s business-wise something of a failure.

So that’s my final post for a while. I think my stocks are set in stone unless there is a really massive collapse in August that would force me out of the market at break even, only to start all over.

If I were to look at gaming stocks right now, I might buy Electronic Arts (EA) during a significant selloff in August. Blizzard is really short on stock “catalysts” after their Legion expansion, while EA has a bunch of releases and press coverage coming this fall.

Any August investments, however, are subject to terrifying U.S. Fed interest rate whims in September. The market went off a cliff last December when the Fed raised interest rates even a quarter point.

Gaming stocks have become a playground lately for stock traders, and the significant moves on game releases are clearly a bit silly (i.e. see: Pokemon doubling Nintendo’s stock, Sony soaring on E3 and VR, etc.) I’m tempted to sell Blizzard now and switch to EA, but I’ve learned not to sell Blizzard.

So there isn’t much to talk about now. I’ll sit on my Kitty laurels with over 300,000 total views on this blog. I’ll watch readership of my famous LotRO and Rift Newbie guides continue to dwindle into history.

Cheers, and happy gaming. Be safe, and take care of your body every day. Also consider making some investments instead of going into credit card debt. Your older, uglier self will give you a big hug.