Tag Archives: hearthstone

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.


Elder Scrolls Online: Nameplates Coming

skyrim mod

While playing Skyrim, I miss my ESO (Elder Scrolls Online) high elf Templar.

We’re approaching the two-year anniversary of ESO. Most reasons I left the game I know are still in place: no real Auction House, only four classes with a very limited skill bar, and a super-obtuse UI that’s difficult to navigate.

I’d almost forgotten about the missing nameplates.

I remember when the ESO devs were showing off their game pre-launch, practically thumping their chests proudly at their amazing non-existent interface. Apparently they hadn’t noticed how much players don’t like their interface.

SkyUI – the super-popular interface-fixer mod for Skyrim, has over eleven million downloads. That’s a shocking number, apparently about one download for every two copies of Skyrim sold on all platforms (22 million) worldwide.

Last month the ESO devs actually announced they are planning to make the ESO interface a little less painfully opaque. They are planning to put back nameplates, which have been gone since beta. (I saw them – they weren’t glorious, but they worked.)

Apparently it only took two years of begging from players (I was one of them early on) and even a Change.Org petition!

I’ll probably give ESO another try in subscription mode as soon as I finish Skyrim.  I miss my elf, and I miss open world cooperation.  ESO has a strong focus on open world coop, i.e. Delves.

In the Orsinium preview last fall, the Creative Lead said public dungeons are a place they want to get more characters to, so they increased the experience rewards.  I love public dungeons.

Rift also has excellent grouping, public and otherwise, but I’m not ready to return yet.  Archonix put out a producer’s letter this week.

Rift has introduced login rewards, and intends to roll out multi-core and 64 bit client support this year, along with new souls, and new Carnival content.


Hearthstone


In other news, Blizzard announced a major change to Hearthstone – new ways to play. Casual and ranked play will be broken into an official tournament division using only the most recently released decks of cards, while a “wild mode” will allow all cards from all sets.

I think it’s a great and needed change for various reasons. The players get a lot more new cards. The devs are less constrained, so they can do more creative things.

The game is free, so the amount of money that players spent on the retired cards (Naxx and GvG initially) in “standard” mode is not that much money over a two-year time period, unless they spent far too much in the first place. The real catch is the amount of money needed in the future to keep up with the pace.


Gaming Stocks


Stocks today (Friday) are giving up on their attempt to rally from Bear mode, and are dying in a fire. Even companies announcing great results this quarter (Google, Facebook), are being pummeled (down 4% and 6%).

That’s not wild mode – that’s crazy mode. Blizzard’s stock is continuing to get killed, and I’m now back to break-even.

I sold my Electronic Arts last week at break-even after they reported lackluster results, and the stock dropped 8% in one day. So I’m happy enough to see it drop another 10% this week.

I also sold Alibaba last week because I realized it’s a liquid trading proxy for China, and it no longer trades on its own merit. So that means I have to play that game, so I’m looking for the chart of the China ETF (i.e. FXI), to break out of the downsloping pattern before buying back into Alibaba as a proxy for China.

I’m just holding Activision-Blizzard and Microsoft until hell freezes over. Blizzard debt is even more of a potential albatross with the rising interest rates (I think?) but clearly no one else understands characters and can create new IPs and cross-marketing like they can.

The Electronic Arts CEO was going on (in their conference call) about Star Wars Battlefront’s great visuals, and how they are trending for a younger demographic. Apparently their new direction isn’t working well for them, since they drastically missed their revenue estimates, which actually fell from last year according to Zack’s.

So happy Friday! This went longer than expected, so next time I’ll try for an update on my game project. I’m programming this weekend. Last weekend was art.

I’m puzzled a little trying to make elves look like elves, and not like humans with pointy ears. If anyone has a genius observation, I’d love to hear it! The below portraits need a few touches still.

Professor Aspen is supposed to be an homage to Professor Snape (Alan Rickman, who passed on last month), but the semblance isn’t exactly brilliant.  The elf naming needs research and decisions.

elf ports


Hearthstone: The League Of Explorers Adventure Revealed

Elise Starseeker

A new Hearthstone adventure was revealed at Blizzcon today, to be released this coming Thursday. See the trailer here.

The adventure promises “surprises” and speaks to the heart of going on an adventure. The adventure will feature exploration, danger, solo missions, ruined temples, and of course new cards.

Players will travel across Azeroth with the League of Explorers in search for the “Staff of Origination”. The three parts of the staff are located in Uldaman, Temple of Orsis, and Stranglethorn Jungle.

As an example mission, at Blizzcon you can help Reno Jackson escape from a ruined temple. Each league member will be a part of the story and also a legendary card:

  • Brann Bronzebeard. League founder.
  • Elise Starseeker. Her card that shuffles a “map to the golden monkey” into your deck. The golden monkey replaces your entire hand and deck with legendary cards.
  • Reno Jackson. Fortune hunter of questionable ethics.
  • Sir Finley Murgleton. Gentleman murloc.

A new mechanic in the adventure is the “discover” mechanic. When you play a card with discover, it will present you with three random (but not entirely random depending on your deck?) cards, and you can pick the best card that fits your current situation.

I really like the new Hunter card, the “Exporer’s Hat”, which gives a minion +1/+1 and a deathrattle to return another hat to your hand. I play a mid-range hunter though, and this seems to push hunters further into lower-curve favoritism.

All cards on Facebook.

In a strong vote of confidence, Life Is Strange won the poll for the game I’ll play this weekend! (I’ll probably play all three, honestly. I’m feeling ambitious.)


Activision Blizzard Studios Announced


Blizzard also announced the creation of a movie and TV studio dedicated to developing their intellectual properties in different formats.

Their first production will be a TV series called “Skylanders Academy”. They also envision Call of Duty films.

Wall Street seems to dislike this idea of entering a very crowded space, sending the stock down 6% today. This kitty would have expected a pop on Blizzcon.

On the face of it, the idea seems crazy, but Blizzard is crazy like a fox. They understand and implement the power of characters better than anyone else.

Still, it seems to make more sense to see how Warcraft the movie fares when it’s released in June of 2016, and then build a movie studio.

I have to wonder if the huge entertainment industry movement towards streaming decreases the entry costs to such an effort, and of course Blizzard intends to reap benefits from cross promotion.