Tag Archives: hearthstone

Hearthstone: Darkmoon Faire – World’s Greediest Video Game

Video Game Prices Are Going Up

The standard price for video games is increasing to $70 for the PlayStation 5 and next-gen Xbox consoles, ending 15 years of $60 games.

I assume this will also be for PC games, but it’s also misleading. When the industry shifted to digital delivery, saving maybe 25% of the cost of delivering a game (at the time), the game companies took all of the cost savings as profits instead of sharing the cost savings as reduced prices for games.

They started the slow death of the resale market at the same time. So in totality, I would call that a price increase. You no longer ‘own’ copies of your games. In any case, let’s look now at the world’s new #1 greediest video game, according to elves everywhere.

Hearthstone Darkmoon Faire: Now Quad-Wielding Pure Greed

Blizzard rolls out a new expansion with a new card set, plus a new mode, plus a long-awaited achievement system. Great! Wrong.

New system for questing and gold: The whole progression game is now a scheme to sell Tavern Passes. Pay $20 to lessen the pain from your arm being twisted for months. The total possible gain is meant to be the same, but the rewards are end-loaded to punish casuals and push the paid XP bonus.

This is on top of the usual $50 to $70 to buy each thrice-annual expansion, which doesn’t even come close to giving you most of the cards, and that’s already more than an annual MMO sub.

But Wait: New Mini-Sets: Hearthstone is getting mini-expansions in between main $60 expansions. Per this article breaking down Hearthstone costs, a full mini-set costs around $60 or 5000 gold. That in itself doubles the costs of Hearthstone, beyond the Tavern Pass and the card collection arm-twisting in the new game mode and in the achievements system.

Hearthstone Mini-Sets Will Refresh the Meta, but at What Cost?

New achievement system: We’ve waited for this for years. But there are no real rewards for your loyalty and efforts except a point total! No titles! No pets! No perks! No skins! And you have card collection achievements thrown up in your face constantly, reminding you to collect x cards of y class for z expansion. And on and on. What a joke.

New game mode: you need to complete card collections in order to unlock powers in the new Duel mode. Since you can’t possibly do this F2P anymore, you are paying to win.

This isn’t an avalanche of greed. This is a cataclysmic volcano of dollar sucking parasitic vacuum cleaner monsters raining down on players of all ages and financial means. (“During a pandemic”? Sure! Let’s tack that on.)

The eye-opening power creep this year can also be mentioned. We can’t forget either the insane power of the Demon Hunter class as it was released last spring, pushing everyone and their uncle into crafting all of those cards, only to have them rolled back all summer until they were eventually reasonable. The aggressive mini-sets will just accelerate the power creep.

All of this is not fixable except by rolling all of this back. This is a legitimate clown fiesta, except the clowns are you. You should not play Hearthstone unless you are a whale, not a clown.

LotRO

LotRO put up a “huge” list of question answers from the devs this week. The list was entirely unsurprising in its disappointing-ness. It was a lot of non-answers and vague promises that will never be fulfilled.

I’m surprised Justin Olivetti seemed to eat it up, but he was very harsh in his previous critical articles on LotRO.  At some point you have to stop stabbing a dead horse.

This comes after the recent scam of releasing a quest pack as a full expansion. This looks a lot like barebones studio just milking players to stay alive. At what point do you draw the line and preserve your ethics and  integrity?

Cyberpunk 2077

Coming soon on Dec. 10th, from one of the few studios still making great games with integrity.  The ongoing super mega hype is a bit concerning, but we’ll have to see.

Note that multiplayer is not being released with the main game, for example. “Projekt Red have revealed that the multiplayer component of Cyberpunk 2077 is its own AAA release.” So it’s time to pay for two games to get one? Here we go, boys. Let the games for your credit card begin.

Vampire: Masquerade

A battle royale game is being made in the Vampire setting. This game has been almost univerally criticized. It’s a game that no one wants. Meanwhile, a new overpriced mini-RPG has been released on Steam to further profit off of Vampire fans. I bought the first one and played it a bit.  I’m over it.

This cheese has been evolving for a long time, and it’s invading even the most sacred, die-hard fan spaces in video games.  No sacred stone will be left un-despoiled in the quest for the most and cheapest profit.

Wow Classic

I continue to be interested in a long-term investment in WoW Classic, or more precisely a proper trip through the world of WoW spanning my years until retirement.

I quit and never kept up with WoW over the last 15 years, so I would be somewhat psyched to go back to this less spoiled, pure land of old.  Leave the current greed and insanity behind. No cash shop. No arm twisting to pay cash money to win.

The problem right now is Blizzard’s lack of public plans and communication.

I would be leveling a Priest right now if I knew the current servers would become progression servers, for example. I just don’t know what they are doing, so I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I haven’t given them any money for months after hitting level 60 with my mage. I haven’t finished leveling my crafts.

SWTOR

I’m currently level 60ish in SWTOR with my Sith Inquisitor. It’s a goal for the holidays to hit 70 and finish a lot more of the main story. I finally got a companion that is romanceable. The talk-kill-collect is getting very repetitive as I near the end of the original vanilla content, however.

ESO

I’d also like to cap out the Champ levels in Elder Scrolls Online. I think I’m like 150-200. The max is now 810. This would require weeks of grinding, if not months. Probably not going to happen, but who knows. The last time I installed ESO, it was a huge download and I had some kind of unfixable errors with my 2060 video card. Maybe that is patched out.

Personal Projects

I’m still working on the second dungeon for Elven Academy – “The Geomancer’s Deathtrap.” I’m trying to wind up the free content in the coming months, so I can work on a paid expansion module, so I can at least offer a download and a way to get money.

The game also needs to have a sense of gaining in power as a mage, and also of security in your save code.  This is a big issue.

I’ve been greatly distracted by oil painting. I’ve sunk a few hundred hours into my painting lately instead of gaming or developing game content. The oil painting is going very well, or I would have dropped it again already. I dream of putting a few paintings in a gallery at some point.

I’m also still wanting to practice my violin, but the violin I purchased is too loud for my apartment. I made a mistake not buying an electric violin.

I wanted an acoustic violin to make game music at some point, but it’s silly trying to learn as a total novice in my apartment with neighbors. My best idea is to take the violin and practice in my car or in some forlorn parking lot somewhere.

If I can attain a basic level of competency, that’s good enough to make MP3’s for my game scenes and modules – dungeon music, romantic music, etc., and that’s a lot of motivation. I absolutely loved the violin music in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.

I’ve been watching a lot of Spanish movies and series to improve my Spanish listening comprehension. I’m making some progress on this, enough to feel some reward for the effort. I’ve also been playing chess as a sort of cracker box game experience, since I don’t have a current MMO.

I’ve also been streaming some art and video game development on Twitch, but the novelty of that has sort of worn off. That’s about it for now. I’ll probably think of revisions to this post over the weekend. Happy Friday and happy gaming!


Elf In Real Life: Fire And Tarot Cards

kenzi hoop

My internet is out tonight due to Cox repairs. So after cleaning house, I guess I’m writing.


Hearthstone


The Hearthstone expansion, Saviors of Uldum, releases tomorrow. “SoU” is another Blizzard overwrite of a more venerable game acronym, which is Shadows of Undrentide for the original Neverwinter Nights.

I’m not buying this expansion. The cards are very strong for Druid and Shaman, which are classes I don’t play. So I’ll be dipping into my 11000 gold to buy a modest amount of cards to get enough dust to skate by and craft only the cards that turn out to be mandatory for my main classes.

Oh, Blizz is also double-dipping again. They are staying purposefully silent on the adventure component of the expansion, so the Blizz sheep won’t realize they are being asked to pay for the expack twice. $50 or $80 now, and then $20 more in 3 weeks.

Very sneaky and greedy marketing tactics. Coming for your credit card now 3x per year.


U.S. Stocks


Stocks died in a fire today because Trump promised huge new tariffs on China, and China retaliated immediately. So I’m entirely cheering for China. I’m starting to dislike the U.S. after I see all the Republican prejudice, hypocrisy, and slime on display after these very real mass-shootings last weekend.

It’s disgusting. I don’t even know if I can believe any of the slander towards China anymore. I know I like Xi Jinping, except for banning Winnie the Pooh in China. That’s simply ridiculous.

After this crash, I’m now break-even on Alibaba and Tencent holdings for this year (after selling them early last year for ~100% gains, and buying them back), and I have a small 7% loss on China MCHI ETF. So I was disciplined and sold the latter to cut the loss, a strategy from a classic investing book.

I also sold Valero (VLO) at break-even today, to reduce exposure to the clear forming bear trend in energy, which is apparently due to slowing world growth and lower demand, despite middle-east disruptions around Iran.

I was also expecting a large benefit of VLO selling ethanol to China. I have no idea where that stands now, so forget it. It’s also a big oil company, and I’m an elf. I’m comfortable with a 55-60% cash level close to all-time highs.

Because even if we do fine this year, next year will be an election year with a huge amount of financial uncertainty in the outcome. I will only put money back in at extreme fear/extreme VIXX levels.

I have a large loss now in SQM (Sociedad de Mineria de Chile), but it’s a small position, and I will add as it bottoms. It’s also a dividend stock. That’s why it’s an exception to the 7% rule. It’s also an example of what bad things can happen if you make an exception. It’s also offset by a gain in my other dividend investment, the real estate ETF, VNQ.

I continue to watch and drool over the chart of Equinix, which I could have had a double with now, if I had simply kept holding it. VNQ holds EQIX among other internet/tower companies, however, and reduced investments in losing mall companies these days, seemingly, so that’s good enough. EQIX has a ginormous P/E ratio.

I don’t know what that means, or why it is so high, to be honest. Currently on my radar to put money back to work is BOTZ and SOXX ETF’s.

SOXX is a way to hold both AMD and NVDA without single-company volatility. I’m still trying to get back into one of those after taking profits in NVDA, again correctly, several months ago.

I’ve also wanted to be invested in robotics, and two new ETF’s have come onto the market in the last year or two. BOTZ is one.

IRBO has the lowest fee, but I like the larger companies and positions in BOTZ, like Fanuc, and Nvidia is actually its #1 holding right now. So my pick is BOTZ.

The problem is that the robotics ETFs are industrials, which, like energy (XLE), are still in a very clear bearish downtrend. So it’s not a buy. I’m not going to make the same mistake as I made with SQM, jumping the gun buying a downtrend instead of waiting patiently for months for a breakout from that trend.

My pick from my last post, silver metal (SLV), is up 15% now in 7 weeks. So that’s a huge winner. Back then, CNBC was saying to buy gold. I bought silver, CNBC is today saying this morning on the Halftime Report to buy silver. They say it’s possible silver could go to $19, or a 5-year high.

It’s also possible that if something is called on CNBC, it’s near a top. So. There’s also that.


Tarot Training


In the past few weeks, I finished a Tarot training class for my elf/witch school game project. You can sit in the library and review all 78 tarot cards and their meanings, study tarot history, study tarot symbolism like the elements of water and fire, take a quiz to test your memory, and also receive a tarot reading from your in-game friend, Leonie.

I happily mentioned this last weekend to my mother and father-in-law, who are both in their seventies. They basically said I can rule out any Christians or conservatives ever supporting or playing this game, and no schools would touch it either because of the tarot. I’m not even kidding. Hello? Witches? Harry Potter?

In other words, my parents appear to be actually living with decades-old, common American prejudices about the devil and witches, and the disturbing evil inherent in tarot cards. What kind of response can I even have to this?

First of all, tarot was greatly influenced by Christianity in France and Italy in the 1500s through 1800s. The modern tarot we know, the Rider-Waite, was created essentially by Christian mystics, who modified and developed the deck for the twentieth century based on many historical versions.

Maybe the Devil card is disturbing? Let’s pretend the Devil actually means the devil, which it doesn’t. It’s a symbol that means a lot of things, not necessarily that the person is certainly a witch under the influence of the dark Lord, and needs to be burned to death.

Well, is the devil ever mentioned in a church? Of course. That’s how it got into Tarot cards in the first place, because pagans don’t even have a “devil” per se. It’s a Christian thing. Is the devil ever brought up by Christians? Of course, all the time.

So when Christians bring up the devil in their cult rhetoric, threatening little gay kids with eternal burning in the fires of hell unless they change their ways, they are basically turning up the devil card. I mean, it’s the same damned thing. So to speak. Or at least, that’s where it came from.

Leonie, your tarot training partner in the game, is a Christian witch, the only Christian in the school. Until I researched the issue while developing the historical component of the study, I wasn’t aware of how deeply Christian the cards are, and how much Christian symbolism is in them.

I’ve mostly used the Aquarian Tarot in the past, because I love the art and feel of the cards, so maybe it has less Christian iconography, and that’s why I was so unaware. Or maybe I’m just dumb. That’s also likely.


Elf Music


This summer I’ve been semi-obsessed with learning an instrument. That’s what elves do. They love music. I’ve never studied an instrument. I come from a very non-musical, generally low-class mid-western family.

I was thinking kids with better and well-put-together families probably are required to learn an instrument as part of their upper class upbringing, their ivy league prep and formation schooling. I was encouraged to do dumb sports instead, because that makes more sense in Indiana. And music lessons are expensive.

So what would an elf play? According to the internet (which I do not have access to, which is why I’m writing, let me re-iterate), they play mainly harps. Fiddles are also big, like, from Ireland historically. And flutes. And lyres.

I researched the antique instruments like the harpsichord, mandolin, and lyre, and it turns out they are antique because they just aren’t quite as good as modern instruments that are actually used. They are also very expensive to acquire.

So I researched harps, and I listened to a lot of beautiful music on Youtube, and realized harps are really a girl instrument, which is good. The most popular professional harpists on Youtube seem to be right up there with women’s soccer for beautiful, talented women to watch and drool over.

For example Valérie Milot, Canadian harp goddess.

Two problems with harp. Real, quality harps are insanely expensive. They also seem to be very hard on the fingers, and I already type and mouse all day for a living, with Elder Scrolls Online at night. That’s a lot of finger stress already.

A harp, I’ve concluded, is basically a piano with no keys. The professional harpists are actually playing piano music in many cases. You take the lid and bottom off of the piano. You turn it on one corner, balance one side on your shoulder, and then pluck the strings inside the piano.

That’s quite a lot harder than pressing keys, which might be why piano is a thing for playing the most impressive virtuoso music, and harp not so much. Fiddle is the same as a violin, which isn’t very enticing as a solo instrument. It also looks exhausting.

Flute is too loud and embarrassing in an apartment, and I have lousy lungs. An electric instrument can be played with headphones, so that would be useful. Electric harp doesn’t sound good. So at this point, I’m all the way down to a bog-standard electric guitar, which isn’t very elven. So I still don’t know about this one.


Denouement


Also this summer, I’ve been studying lots of French and Chinese on Duolingo. I wanted a break from Spanish. I’m Ruby league now, on the leaderboard with the most ardent language scholars (Kappa). Ardent is from the French, from the Latin ardere, to burn.

I’m currently working on a French class for my bilingual English/Spanish game project. If that sounds off the rails, you might be right. I want to get back to the stories and adventures, and finish the first chapter of the main storyline maybe this winter at best.

My internet is now back! At 2:30 a.m.. Hearthstone tomorrow. Open card packs. Wait at least two weeks for the meta to start settling before actually playing and crafting anything. High Elf in Elder Scrolls Online is my current thing otherwise.

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming! Elves forever! Humans and hobbits are fine too, and wretched hobbits are generally accepted peacefully into the elven lands.


Amazon Promises LotR TV series, Delivers Golden Packs For Hearthstone


I’ve been exhausted lately. In the last week, I completed season 12 objectives of Diablo 3, in bed. I can only say this was a satisfying single-player experience. And post a pic.


Lord of The Rings TV Show


Amazon announced a LotR TV series today, which is mind-blowing. There is no date set yet, and no cast, but they say they are committing to multiple seasons. This commitment must be a licensing thing.

What stories could they tell? Gandalf and Aragorn were very active between the Hobbit and Fellowship, but I’m not a lore expert. I just hope there are as many hobbits and elves as bearded men with wenches and big swords.

It’s been a while since I really looked forward to a TV show. I’m currently an Amazon Prime subscriber. Amazon now allows monthly subs, which is very cheap for a lot of value.

Sub for a month, watch the shows, order your stuff, unsub, for around $10. Plus right now you get a golden Hearthstone pack in Twitch loot. Not bad.


Diablo 3


As a mostly clueless Diablo 3 newbie, the season reset offered a good opportunity to create a new character and learn how to play the game. The difficulty and learning curve were perfect.

So I beat a “Greater Rift” in 15 minutes on difficulty 20 to complete the season, and now I have a level 70, 75 paragon Monk with a shiny gold hero portrait, and a complete Uliana set and build.

I thought I’d like the angel wings reward, but they’re a bit much.


Hearthstone


Blizz announced a new expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs. The theme has a nice Disney flavor and introduces a new single-player dungeon game mode.

No one is really sure if the mode will be good, or why Blizzard devoted development resources to this mode, or why people will play this mode, since they say it offers no real rewards.

The introduction of “legendary weapon” class cards in Kobolds is also a little ‘meh’. Just a good excuse to create overpowered cards that people have to have, and craft.


Gaming Stocks


Take Two (TTWO) and NVidia (NVDA) were two big winners in the last two weeks of quarterly gaming company earnings reports. Electronic Arts (EA) had the weakest results of the big three developers/publishers in focus on Wall Street.

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) was somewhere in the middle.

Blizzard still soared last week on news of record-breaking release for Call of Duty: WW2, but then sold off again on general market weakness.

I purchased EA and held for a week up to the day of earnings, and sold before earnings for a very slim profit.

I also purchased Disney (DIS) within minutes of the rumor that they were talking to Fox studios about a purchase.

Disney went up, but I was not willing to hold through earnings. I washed out at break even. Earnings ended up bad, as I predicted. But it didn’t matter! The stock kept running anyway based on hopes and the force (Star Wars).

So Disney looks bullish into the movie release, but buying and holding seems a little premature to me. Analysts are predicting intense competition for the video game space. Why not also for entertainment in general.

I finally sold JD (JD.com) at break even, since I am already overweight China e-commerce with a double in Alibaba, and would rather diversify more in emerging markets (EEM) during a downturn. I didn’t realize JD announces earnings this Monday, though.

JD will probably soar immediately now that I sold, of course, but even if it jumped 10%, it would still be the weakest stock in my portfolio.

I am watching ANET (Arista Networks), and wondering if it isn’t too late to get in. I’m watching Z, ALB, APA, and CTRP. Broad market risks right now are very difficult. Since I’m obviously very risk averse, I’m still waiting for another serious dip.

There is speculation that people have been waiting to sell stocks this year, hoping for tax breaks that will be in force next year.

So January could be unusually bearish, but this week Congress suggested legislation maybe closer to 2019, and that’s partly where the market weakness came from in the last few trading days. Then there would be no point in waiting until January to sell.


Holiday Gaming!


Holidays. Vacation breaks. Good times. I already pre-purchased the Hearthstone expansion.

I’m very interested in CoD:WW2, since I’ve always preferred historical or diabolical shooters over other kinds, but I really want to buy CoD on the Blizzard launcher. Blizz added an Activision section to their launcher, featuring only Destiny 2, but that’s it.

Players are griping and DansGaming about this, but I’m fine. I really like the Blizzard launcher, except it is a bit of a resource hog. Are they going to add CoD? If so, I would rather have all my games on the Blizz launcher than have to load Steam.

That’s it. I’m trying really hard to get back to work on my game project. Next post will probably be post Kobolds and Catacombs. Happy holidays, and happy gaming.


Activision Blizzard: Sell ASAP, Or Back Up The Truck? Plus Hearthstone, Cyberpunk 2077

stock chart activion blizzard
In this post I look at a few upcoming game titles, plus the usual gaming stock analysis.

After mentioning in my last blog post that I quit Hearthstone, I jumped back in during the last three weeks. I got 60 more wins on my wild Dragon Priest to complete 500 total for the golden Tyrande hero portrait.

Overall Hearthstone is a horribly managed. I’m not even going to get started ranting about the new gnome hero. The Blizzard marketers are apparently in charge of game development instead of the actual devs.

And the marketers are solely focused on literally stealing lunch money from as many kids as possible, not making a great game to play.

I don’t know what those people are doing out in California, but they clearly aren’t taking care of business. As Kripp said on his stream a few nights ago, the Hearthstone devs are competent, but nothing is happening. They aren’t acting like it.

Something is just plain wrong with this picture. Maybe they are working on something really big.


Gaming Stocks


Activision Blizzard (ATVI) has entered a downtrend in the last month, and was pushed down harder in the last week from significantly negative analyst press.

I sold ATVI and called for a decline last summer. My slow-and-steady, diversified GAMR ETF has outperformed Blizzard since then (see comparison image above.) The question now is whether to buy back into Blizzard on this pullback!

I agree with everything the gaming analyst says. In previous posts, I mentioned over-inflated expectations for ESports, especially among game-clueless Wall Street people.

The linked article doesn’t mention other analyst observations like intense holiday competition with numerous game releases this season, as well as intense competition coming in 2018.

Justin Olivetti posted a Massively article today noting very strong numbers for Overwatch, but unfortunately the sales for Destiny 2 were very disappointing in September.

Blizzard releases their quarterly earnings on Nov. 2 during Blizzcon.

I have to wonder if the earnings are planned during reveals and excitement to cushion any earnings miss or other disappointment. Destiny sales disappointed. This is a known, but the unknown is how much this will impact Blizzard’s earnings compared to estimates.

I feel like Hearthstone is also going to disappoint. The recent Lich King expansion actually made the game less fun, at least compared to Un’Goro.

Will I buy ATVI? I don’t know. It’s timing and intuition. Watching the stock during any broad market volatility in the next two weeks will definitely help shine light on the situation.

I do know that the window of opportunity will be small, and if I miss a rip, I will lose out on an opportunity to make hundreds of dollars by pressing a couple buttons at the right time.

My last stock buy was 50 shares of VLO on September 13 at $70.50.

I sold it back on 9/14 because it dipped sharply, and I was going away for a long weekend. I didn’t want to be holding a big trade with no ability to dump it. The stock is at $77.42 now.

I watched this stock for two years. I was a coward not long ago when VLO broke out of a massive downtrend at $50, and I just didn’t pull the trigger. And now I missed it again. A $350 gain in one month because I was an idiot, and away from my computer on exactly the wrong day.


Upcoming Games


Today I looked at the holiday roster of big releases, and the only game I really wanted to play was FIFA 18, story mode. But wait, it’s the story of a guy only, no female option, so scratch that off too.

It’s the winter Hearthstone expansion, only.

But wait, again! Today Massively posted a very rare update on Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt affirms they are working really big on this game. They say they are redefining and innovating.

This game looks absolutely awesome, but for the love of the Borg mother, please let us play as a female character, instead of regurgitating another Geralt.

There are no real RPGs on the list of holiday games, unless you count Divinity: Original Sin 2, which is pulling some very high ratings. Middle Earth: Shadows of War is a male protagonist again. So is Red Dead 2 next year. I’d be excited about Star Wars: Battlefront 2 by EA if it were a Bioware RPG instead of another mindless killing field game.

Ironically, EA killed Bioware, of course.

Vampyr from DontNod has been pushed back to Spring 2018, and of course it’s another male gender lock.

So if I crave an RPG this holiday season, I’ll look at Divinity: OS2. I didn’t get very far into the first one though. The puzzles were hard on my kitty brain, and I don’t really enjoy crafting and heavy inventory management in single-player games.


Personal Project and Portfolio


I’ve had some health problems in the last month, and these have really set me back in my energy level. I won’t meet my development goals for the end of October. I’ve made a lot of progress though, and my game is fairly playable.

The more complicated systems like combat and spellcasting are barely sketched into the gameplay.

I was investigating the development of a new pen art style for combat action panels, similar to the look of Pillars of Eternity. So I bought my first tablet to try to speed up my workflow. I expected the tablet to have a serious learning curve, however, and I’m now bogged down on that.

I’ve always done traditional drawing. I’ve done quite a bit of comic pen work, including a completed full-size and finished comic book, but it’s just too tedious. It took me a month of full time work to do like 20 pages.

So happy gaming, and leave your thoughts on Blizzard if you want. I’ll be watching the stock. Otherwise, I am watching First Data (FDC), Hack ETF (HACK), Amgen (AMGN), and JPM and ALB, both of which I missed the boat on, although I know I should have jumped into them long ago.

I’m almost more interested to just add to my current holdings on a pullback. The market is very high and expensive right now, and Trump has to explode at some point.

Self-directed investing has taught me that confidence and patience are two of the most important virtues. I need to set definite exit rules before I enter a position, and stick to those rules after I’ve forgotten my original thought process.

I am still patient with JD.com (JD), the worst performing stock in my portfolio, sitting at a tiny .49% loss after a series of perilous dips and drops. Netease (NTES) is finally looking strong in the past few weeks, and it looks like JD is primed to follow it with positive analyst recognition a few days ago in Barron’s.


LotRO Mordor Beta, Hearthstone Frozen Throne, Gaming Stock Update, Tunnels And Trolls


Mordor Open Beta


This weekend the character model updates arrived on the LotRO beta server, and honestly they look very good. The newly aligned Standing Stone developers clearly have a mind for pushing improvements for LotRO.

Last weekend I played through the High Elf introduction on LotRO’s Mordor beta server, which involves a flashback to the Last Alliance at the end of the second age in Middle Earth.

In looks and animation, High Elf is sort of a cross between Elf and man. I found the intro sequences to be epic and entertaining, just long enough to serve the purpose, but not long enough to be boring.

Hardcore lore-monkeys and other serious-business types in the LotRO forum lambasted the High Elf production quality, however.

Some criticism, like the wet dog scraggly hair modeling, might be justified, although they have already improved that in the third beta weekend.

I thought the little story was fine. The elf does Night Elf-style dive-rolls. Most low-budget MMO’s these days don’t even have racial start areas.


Hearthstone announces Knights of the Frozen Throne


Blizzard announced Knights of the Frozen Throne yesterday. Frozen Throne might bring more deathrattle cards for my priest, which is nice.

Knights is especially exciting for players who like PvE story content in Hearthstone, because this xpack will bring that back after a year hiatus, and the discontinuation of adventures after Karazhan last year.

Also Blizz is running a promotion for the next week for double gold earned from quests. So if you’re on a break from Hearthstone, you should probably check in and knock those down for 100+ gold per quest completion.


Gaming Stocks


Last week I sold Blizzard (ATVI) at $59.50 near the recent high. Today I bought back into the GAMR ETF, as shown in the image above. After an almost $1000 gain, I was just holding too much Blizzard.

It was easier for taxes to sell it all instead of taking half off the table. Also, I do not trust the U.S. market right now, or the inflated Blizzard stock price, or the profit margins on Blizzard’s impressive eSports productions. If they are going to have a lackluster quarter, it could be this one.

Today Blizzard, EA, and TTWO saw big buying demand on a market bounce. They were well above any other stocks I track. Clearly a lot of people are eager to shove their money into video game companies.

If you’ve been wanting to get into Blizzard, today was a solid bet. Blizzard is bouncing off of the top line of a straight trend channel started last February. The MACD oversold indicator (at bottom of images) is also good.

I would rather see Blizzard break and fall down into that channel before I re-buy, i.e. around $54-55. Or I’d like to see a broad market meltdown or flash crash.

This year has been horrible for retail in general. A lot of stocks have been smashed. Food. Clothes. Now auto parts. Some of this weakness may bleed over into video games, or maybe just real estate, health care, and tech companies are devouring everyone’s lunch money.

For now, I opted for a more global diversity in my video game investment. It’s interesting that the GAMR ETF holdings do not have Blizz, EA, and TTWO in the top 10. I like that. I’m also still holding NVidia, Tencent, and Netease.

NTES was my gaming pick in my last blog post in May. It is currently up 11.47% since I purchased it. According to a chart comparison tool, NTES has outperformed Blizzard slightly during the last two months. I wouldn’t expect that to continue, but it’s nice.

I also sold Silver(SLV) for a small gain at 16.30. It’s now down to 14.73, and I’m looking at it again. The problem is that both it and the dollar are much lower, which is a big problem. It would be better to buy the dollar if it turns (symbol UUP).

Other names on my current radar are Patrick Industries (PATK) for secular need for cheap housing, a trend shaping up and good PE, PEG ratios, Autozone (AZO) for oversold due to panic over O’Reilly’s released numbers, and telecom ETF (VOX), which was picked by an analyst I like (Tom Lee), and it’s a Trump trade.

edit- Today, Monday morning, I bought a bit of JD.com (JD) at 39.90 on heavy volume against a very good stop out level at 38.40. This is a small, low-risk bet for big potential gain after a very strong last earnings report and a period of consolidation.

edit- Also,as of Tuesday the GAMR ETF now has Blizzard at #7, so apparently they are buying the current weakness.


Tunnels And Trolls App Still WIP


I checked on the T&T app this week, and apparently Metaarcade is still working on it.

They’ve put up a few updates in the last week, however, and the blog post suggests the team is fighting the 90-90 rule:

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

Yes, that sounds about right. I’m in the same situation with my own game project, which is currently looking great. The hardest problems still need to be whipped into shape, however. My next blog post will be about that, with my first module ready for play-testing.