Tag Archives: LotRO

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

gamr etf


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.

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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.


LotRO All-Time Low, Gaming Stock All-Time Highs

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LotRO was affected by layoffs at Turbine this week, shrinking a small team even more. This was on the heels of an update to start the week, offering a new raid, many more housing hooks, and improved landscape visuals in classic areas of middle earth (see image).

The reactions to this update have been generally very favorable, judging by in-game chat and a shortage of complaints in the forums.

Speculation is rampant right now about LotRO’s future, so it’s best to just read the forum thread or the Massively article and comments. For now LotRO will continue, but the future of reaching Mordor is gloomier.

Turbine’s new DDO/LotRO double duty CM, Cordovan, had this to say in the forums this morning:

  • We appreciate everyone’s concerns for the team’s well-being, and know that folks have seen and read your thoughts. We aren’t able to comment specifically on personnel matters, especially when they come from business decision-making like this, but we would reiterate the part from yesterday’s official statement that Lord of the Rings Online will continue to operate as it does now. Additionally, we’d like you to know that our development plans remain unchanged.

So we’ll see.  I’m now at level 103 with my Warden main, maybe my favorite class ever in an MMO.


Video Game Stocks


This was a calm week following the Brexit chaos, with very strong manufacturing data (ISM number > 56) and jobs data for the U.S.. Weakness in oil and the British pound caused uncertainty, but some brief firming today (Friday) has the S&P index poised at the brink of all-time highs yet again.

If oil and currencies drop significantly over the weekend, we will almost surely reverse. We are also entering another earning season, and earnings will weigh heavily. This week analysts were saying this quarter will be a bottom for Apple (a former market leader), and to look to “dollar cost average” back into Apple stock going into the fall.

Analysts suggest the huge pain in the refiners (i.e. VLO, mentioned last week) is a canary in the coal mine for the economy, but this seems wrong since gas demand is strong, with record driving this summer. It’s more likely overcapacity (for reasons).

This week I was looking at GLU Mobile (GLUU), which is basing, having just released the Gordon Ramsey game with strong reviews and player enthusiasm, and having a strong cash position. They are also hiring heavily per their website.

The stock also seems to have huge insider buying in the last quarter, but I don’t understand the stock options. I do see a lot of GLUU buying by Tencent, the Chinese mobile game mega-corporation, which may get protectivist treatment from the recent Chinese game oversight regulations.

So I started looking at Tencent (TCEHY), which owns stakes in a lot of game companies as well as GLU Mobile and Blizzard. Tencent recently struck a big deal with ESPN, and is reporting strong results from the hookup. Disney (owner of ESPN) also has a Star Wars deal with Tencent.

Since I’ve given up on the Purefunds GAMR ETF as a way to diversify my investment in video games (due to extremely sketchy trading volume in that vehicle), I pushed a bit into Tencent instead on this big breakout day.

I also want more exposure to China, although the Chinese financial system is considered a ticking time bomb by some respected analysts, and a big cause of the big February selloff. The fears over Yuan currency, at least, are off the table lately, according to other analysts, and thus the calm and the market stability.

It’s not a good idea to buy on a big Friday up day, but Tencent is only at $23/share, after breaking out recently from $20, a resistance level dating back a year, then bouncing off of it. I see this stock having a lot of room to the upside, and I’m only in for “half”.

Other top gaming stock outperformers today, touching new highs, were Blizzard +2.2%, NVIDIA +3.9%, Electronic Arts +2.1%, Nintendo (NTDOY)  +10.2%. Nvidia, Intel, and Nintendo were specifically mentioned on CNBC this afternoon, Nintendo for the popularity of the new Pokemon Go.

As I reported last week, Overwatch is showing very strong momentum, but in general I don’t want to be speculating on individual game releases, hype, popularity, and sales. I’d need to be paid to make that amount of effort!

In the meantime, I’ll work overtime on my lousy low-paying job on a Saturday morning. Happy Friday!


Theme of the Week: Trolls

princess tableturn
I was actually trolled successfully in the LotRO forums this last week, which was depressing. I can’t even relate to the minds of low-class American society, and I’m glad.

In other troll news this week:

The Chinese government now insists on reviewing and approving every single mobile game sold in China, including simple updates. China has turned more protectionist recently, with a major court ruling against Apple in favor of some no-name Chinese phone manufacturer, for example.

A stock market commentary site opines that AMD’s new Polaris video cards are an “overhyped disaster”. I didn’t research this. I’m never buying another AMD card.

On Thursday Activision Blizzard (ATVI) stock was up 4.23%, and another .66% in the aftermarket, on the backs of praise and upgrades from Wall street analysts. Polygon reported this week that Overwatch is now the most popular game in Korean net cafes, taking the top spot from LOL.

Blizzard has also been in the news for striking deals with Facebook and Netflix. One has to be concerned about the future of its WoW movie franchise, but on the other hand, the expectations weren’t particularly high.

Blizzard continues to be the only game maker who both understands and is able to implement the power of great characters. The Overwatch characters especially are a hit with the Asian fans, or so I’ve heard.

According to some prominent game bloggers recently, Asian money is worthless to Blizzard, but for now those “underweight” investors will have to continue sucking lemons.

I visited Steam several times looking at games to buy the summer sale. I purchased Fallout 4 and Life Is Strange episodes 2-5.

Currently my characters are level 104, 103, and 99 in LotRO, so I’ll be due for a break soon. I finally have a “main” in my Warden. For the first time in a long time, I can just log in and do whatever with her, and feel satisfied with my play session, instead of feeling like I have to make ruthless progress.

I’m also doing a little multiboxing. I realized my LotRO multiboxing guide is not getting SEO on that search term (only dual-boxing), so I tried to tweak that. Here is a link, to possibly help with players who want to LotRO multibox.

This week a game developer announced a Tunnels and Trolls app, which will feature a support platform for people to make and share their own T&T modules. Unfortuntely I lost the link for this, can’t Google it either, and the main T&T website has no news on it, instead showing broken feeds.


Stock Commentary


All the Wall Street pros are extremely bearish and concerned right now about the market. I see grim faces. Big names like Alan Greenspan and George Soros are declaring certain doom. Literally no one thinks the market can go higher. Not possible. Even the bulls have thrown in the towel.

So this should be very interesting. The last time a big-name consensus declared almost certain doom was near the very bottom of the February correction. While many pros are feeling the doom, they nonetheless shoved money immediately into Nike when Nike dropped hard a few days ago.

One Nike (NKE) analyst says right now is the best entry point into Nike’s stock in the last 20 years. I’ll never buy Nike because video games. Duh.

Electronic Arts (EA) is also pushing for all-time highs in the last two days, after a consolidation phase of almost one year. It was about this place last July. If it breaks through, it’s a buy.

Of course, the same pattern is in place for a lot of stocks, and the entire U.S. market right now. So it’s hard to buy one stock on a breakout if the overall market fails.

An exception this week was Verizon (VZ), which dropped almost nowhere on Brexit, due to its big dividend, and broke out of long-term resistance to new highs instead. This is demand due to worldwide low interest rates.

I bought VZ on Monday at the bottom of the Brexit frenzy, with my stop at $54/share on the long term breakout, and so far it’s golden. It drops early every day, but just won’t go down. It just goes up.

The question in my mind is whether the smart money has sold (distributed) in recent weeks, and we have massive holdings now in “weak hands”. (Namely the buyers of the Brexit dip.) This could cause the market to drop massively and quickly. Or it could cause the market to go crazy, if it breaks north and the smart money is sitting there with their jaws hanging open, and their pockets dripping with all their cash on hand.

I could go on about record outflows in the last years and months, international dynamics of money flow relative to other countries, etc.


Current Ideas:


According to a report yesterday, the big hedge funds were buying mostly energy and materials in this last quarter.

Kinder Morgan (KMI). A few pros have mentioned liking this stock in the past week. Others have given up on it. It’s been stuck in a straight horizontal consolidation for four months. If it breaks to the northern latitude, it might be worth a shot with your stop on the top line of the consolidation band, of course.

Valero (VLO). One of my all-time favorites, this stock was pummeled today on news of a lawsuit in California, with accusations of gas price manipulation. This big selloff was met with solid buying through the day, however, forming another big bottom tail (candlestick.) This could be a bottom for Valero, because the news can’t be any worse. I’m looking for VLO to break out of its downtrend line before girding my loins, and who knows.

Pushed To The Back Burner:

Dow (DOW) is laying off a bunch of workers due to its Corning restructuring, and some say the time isn’t right to buy – better after the deal with Corning is complete. That’s going nowhere close to breaking out right now.

Visa (V) saw strong buying after Brexit, relative to the market, but lost a legal action late in the week, resulting in a 3.4% drop. Given that Visa also tends to trade with the currently treacherous financial sector, that’s also a no-touch for now. Very glad I was disciplined and sold several days ago.


LotRO Mired In Gloom (And So Is The Market)

moria goat

Last week I was impressed with the LotRO writing. A Moria revamp resulted in more friendly dwarves deep in the murderous murk, and more connecting quest sequences.

Sometimes you get the impression that the devs don’t play their own game, or can’t see the forest for the trees. The revisions reflect the opposite, the perspective of a lot of time actually playing the content.

Strong characters were a dire weak point when I left the game a few years ago, but the current LotRO writers are bringing a good game with the Bingo Boffin quest line for example. If you see a character’s name mentioned frequently in World Chat, you’re probably on the right track.

I was questing with my Lore-Master in Ringlo Vale in Gondor. The characters were actually outstanding, especially Jajax. I hope I see that guy again down the road.

On the other hand, Ringlo Vale was dark, all the time. It’s the “Dawnless Day”, and inexplicably the world has no sunlight. So all last week I was in Moria and Mirkwood with one character, and in endless dark with another character. I logged into my third character hoping for a 50% chance of daytime in Rohan, and it was day, but actually pouring rain.

Over and over you hear people mired in Moria, tired of the dark. Just last night a kinmate expressed enormous relief at emerging from Moria, and another kinmate echoed him. This is on top of LotRO being 50% dark just from the day/night cycles. Sometimes I log out when it’s night, or take a break.

The point is that happy sunlight = happy games. Happy games = happy players. We all know what happy players bring.

LotRO needs a lot more sunlight, and more 100% daytime set areas, instead of 100% dark. I’ve always disagreed with the 50/50 day night cycle for reasons, so this isn’t a revelation. Darkness should be the dark side of the golden ratio, otherwise it isn’t special. It isn’t the deadly underdog.


Gaming Stocks


Last week I discovered a Youtube video game news series by a pro Wall Street analyst. It’s called the “Pachter Factor”. Here are the links from the last couple weeks (I didn’t mean to get the videos themselves – oh well? D:)


To follow the whole series at SIFTD:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFaBUWXO8o4jSfF6PhJOyZA

Pachter likes Zynga and Activision. He says if Zynga’s release of Dawn of Titans game is a success, the stock could double. He says Activision will make a lot more money off of King than people expect.

Pachter likes EA in the near term, noting it has great assets and some phenomenal games coming out. Battlefield is coming out without a lot of competition, for example.

Tuesday was a pivotal day last week. A higher inflation number came in, resulting in a big selloff. Many had written off an interest rate hike in June (including me), but inflation puts it back on the table.

The estimated chance of a rate hike went from 5% to something like 30% midweek, but by the end of the week, analysts were more skeptical. The market held steady.

T.J. Maxx (discount retailer) reported strong earnings on Tuesday, which I was looking for as a signal on Ross (ROST), but the stock went nowhere. It went down on Wednesday instead of up. So I didn’t buy Ross into their earnings on Thursday, even when Walmart also reported very strong earnings.

This was good. Ross ended up flat on its face, the disappointing result of the three.

NVidia (NVDA), Electronic Arts (EA), and Activision-Blizzard (ATVI) all made the CNBC coverage on Tuesday. NVidia was picked as a “final trade” by Guy Adami http://www.cnbc.com/guy-adami/ on Fast Money, and was surging for the rest of the week.

Electronic Arts was called overbought after its earnings surge, and at risk for a reversal, while Blizzard was smashed for over 3% on one day, rejected at its previous peak around $40. Blizzard received another vote of confidence, however, by Paulson & Co., a large hedge fund that reported taking a new stake of 3140000 shares of ATVI last month.

E3 hype hit on Wednesday with Sony announcing its plans for E3, and the stock was up almost 4%. Sony also announced a new beautiful Xperia Ultra smartphone.

Sony also announced a major push into AI (Artificial Intelligence), since they are lagging behind. This is the same AI that’s going to ruin the job market in coming years by replacing humans.

I was watching Yandex very closely this week. It has pulled back, but I noticed it had 19% short interest in April, which means the big move after earnings was in significant part a short covering rally. Volume also seems not particularly high. So I remain wary and watching for a more extended consolidation near the new level.

I was also watching ANET. The stock is surging strongly, more than my other picks last week, and is just about too high for a buying opportunity now.

Overall, the market is lurching forward with huge bearish sentiment, with lots of cash on sidelines. As many have noted, the high P/E ratio of the S&P, with earnings in modest decline, has a lid on the market.

Bulls nonetheless expect an upturn later this year, because that’s what bulls do, while a rate hike is expected to make things more difficult. The U.S. needs to hike, while other countries can still ease, and this is a problem for the U.S., which is has been already been squabbling with China and Japan over the currency issues.

This is so exciting. Yawn. Except wait, every time I abandon the market and don’t pay any attention, I seem to go along with the crowd. When the crowd abandons the market, it tanks, and then there is a buying opportunity. Ideally the market needs to go down to relieve the pressure from inflated P/E ratios (and other things).

So I can’t blink and fall asleep. This kitty must remain on guard in the dark, ready to pounce on any opportunity.