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TheKodu's blog

Fear of exposing the honesty of a glitch.
10:58 PM on 04.16.2014
XBLIG [non]review [PSA]: Banana Bananza is a banana sh@# [Swearing]
1:36 PM on 04.02.2014
XBLIG review: NOYD
8:27 AM on 03.29.2014
Hearthstone vs Scrolls [Long]
10:34 AM on 03.23.2014
So lets take a break from talking about EA, to talk about Warner Brothers.
4:34 PM on 02.11.2014
Infamous second son cums closer with pre-order information [Rumour]
11:47 PM on 02.07.2014





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About
A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )
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TheKodu
10 hours ago - 10:58 PM on 04.16.2014



Hereís a weird thing thatís becoming a trend. No recording areas. Now I as a garms jurnalist snuck into Gadgetshow live recently with the rest of the public. Iíve been there before and I hope to attend there again but in recent years (literally the past two) there has been an alarming trend showing up.

One games stand last year and one stand this year had a no pictures no video rules. Iím actually going to call out the companies on this. In 2013 the culprit was Namco Bandai Games,Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot Interactive, K/O Paper Products, CBS Studios with †their game Star Trek. This year it was 2K and Turtle Rock with their game Evolve.

Both years I was able to capture footage of other games and when asked it was perfectly fine. Now this wasnít just little indie developers. Having asked the following companies were fine with filming at their stand: Nintendo , Capcom and EA (yes EA were fine with recording footage). Now I should say there was a rule with this, I had to make sure you could see the edges of the screen in the footage to allow comparison to make sure it wasnít mis-representaing †the graphics . Now I try to be fair and I did follow this and on previous content Iíve even stated the camera resolution I was using.


^gotta love the Capcom booth last year, shame the game kind of flopped but still


Now I can understand with Star Trek as that game was a piece of crap, you could see at the show it was a piece of crap so stopping word getting out that it was a piece of crap might be in the publisherís interest. However with Evolve while some other media outlets have footage from PAXeast I was at first baffled by the refusal to let people film. Infact I am still baffled. The only reasons I can think of are fear of people mis-representing the game (in the PR departmentís eyes) or shock horror some-one filming a glitch.
Hereís the difference. Evolve isnít due out till Autumn and playing it, well it was impressive even this early on. Now thereís the issue, I can tell you it was amazing but I canít show you anything other than the free T-shirt I got.




Seriously it's actually a nice T-shirt with barely any advertising stuff on it but it tells you nothing about the quality of the game me showing you this.

I canít prove one bit that the game is good. †The worst part is the stand was so honest beyond this, we were told we were going to be playing on custom pre-built gaming PCís and shown the PC and given the model name and number for them. If Iíd have been allowed to film you can bet Iíd have bothered filming this because itís being honest with potential fans. Heck you know what really terrible camera footage can tell you about a game ? That the game is real. If you have people playing and footage being recorded itís pretty hard for that to be a put up bullshot job.



Hereís my issue. In an industry presently being (and rightly) hammered into the ground for bullshot and fake footage the PR departments are so desperate to control the message they fear anything showing the game as anything but perfect. During my time at the Gadget Show Live indie booth I saw and was told about a number of glitches to watch out for on the in development games. You know what that proved to me though ? These were real. When people see footage of an in development game you know what shows a game is real ? A glitch. Showing that the game isnít perfect is an amazing thing because as much as the PR hype a game, no gamer believes any game will be perfect. Thatís because no game normally is.

So my question must be why ?
Why is it giant publishers and development houses are in fear of me and my tiny 3 mega pixel camera and yet indie developers are fine with it ?
Why must PR departments worry so much that a game over 6 months away from release might have footage showing a glitch ?
Why are PR departments fine with making bullshots and vertical slices, which they must know will be shown as fake close to or on release and yet they actively fear people being able to show real footage ?
Photo Photo Photo








Breaking News: as of 7:30am GMT on 03/04/2013 Banana Bananza has been pulled from the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace






Warning this review contains Strong language and images some readers may find offensive and the developer of this game WILL find offensive.


Warning this review contains Strong language and images some readers may find offensive and the developer of this game WILL find offensive.



Name: Banana Bananza
Cost: £0.69 / $1
Review Bit:

Ok Iím going to give this review the same amount of effort that Banana Bananza has had put into it.




There we go.†





Unfortunately that tells you very little about the game and might encourage you to pick it up out of morbid curiosity. As such Iím going to actually review the thing, this is because as a reviewer part of my role is to protect and inform the consumers or at least try to.

So when I saw Banana Bananza show up on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace my curiosity was peaked. I missed out on the ďBreak one OutĒ scandal that hit years ago and well if you look at the two screenshots for this game I think youíll understand why Iím checking this one out.






So it seems pretty clear how this game is selling itself and as you may well know nudity is against the rule of XBLIG so has a game with nudity finally got onto the system ?

You better believe it hasnít. Here just for you is what one of those same images looks like in game.



Now looking at that image made me think back and seemingly remember seeing that image before, except the entire image. Then I looked at who made the game. Fusion gaming ! Now some readers of mine might remember I looked at another game by them, luckily I donít remember playing it all through but I did end up going back to look at†
. Turns out itís the same image.

So another entry onto XBLIG by Fusion gaming. No pictures of gameplay and trying to sell based on ďsexyĒ images. Could this be their first step to redemption ? Is this some great hidden gem of XBLIG ? Of course fucking not, infact this entry is worse than Sexy Island adventure. At least Sexy Island adventure had gameplay, ok the gameplay was more boring than a 5 hour lecture on the future of the stopcock valve hosted by Gordon Brown but it was there. †Banana Bananza is NOT a game, you heard me right itís not.

Banana Bananza has no actual gameplay, no objective beyond high scrore and after 5 minutes or less requires no player input either. †So what do you do you ask ? Well you gather bananaís. Initially you do this by rapidly pressing A and then you can use these to buy upgrades such as more bananas per time you press A and gaining bananas per second automatically. You use bananas to buy upgrades which give you more bananas over time. You could literally just sit there not buying upgrades and youíd still get bananas after you buy the first one or two. There is NO global highscore board for the game so thereís no way to compete with other people anyway so even the high score mechanic is even more pointless. At no point can you buy images as you might think the game has two images the one above of the girl in the mud ? and another of girls picking bananas it is infact the other one shown above. Oh and before you ask no you donít see any nudity on that either itís just girls picking bananas and no itís not animated.

Verdict:
Banana Bananza is a cookie clicker except without the cookies or even the need to click. It requires less user input and has less sense of progress than Dear Esther. It provides nothing to the player and despite being a game that simply counts up it has a bug in it. The game counts in the number of bananas but the upgrades says lbs thatís right the game gives two kinds of units for the same thing.Banana Bananza has exactly 1 new asset and the rest I believe is re-used or repurposed items.

Once upon a time Silver Dollar games were considered the worst developer on XBLIG. Fusion gaming are proving in spectacular style why they now deserve that title.

Banana Bananza is a fusion of the pure grade A bovine excrement and the worst parts of a mobile cookie clicker to create something that canít even be called a game anymore. This thing is the worst release on XBLIG I believe ever. Yes I rate this game worse than Zombies Zombies everywhere. The marketing for this game is actually misleading so much so I believe it might be in breach of advertising standards and itís very rare I say this about a game, especially one that cost me less than a hamburger , I want my money back. No really this game is so bad I feel my money was not simply wasted here but has actively gone towards encouraging more †shit like this to be developed.

If you take nothing else from this review take this. DO NOT BUY Banana Bananza




One Last insult

I would now be posting a picture of the gameplay but when I fired up the game today having written this review 3 days ago I found this.




Now I thought it was just and error you know maybe an update scrambled the game files so I redownloaded the game, it was still corrupt. I then deleted the game manually from the xbox storage menu having gone through the storage system not the carousel and redownloaded it again from scratch having restarted my Xbox. It was still corrupt

So I thought maybe it was just me you know. Then I checked a thread I made previously on Xbox.com. Turns out I'm not the only one.

This thing is no longer on the level of worst game of the year this is no what I can only describe as an active SCAM




Score

0 out of 6 Scamtacular†
Photo Photo Photo







TheKodu
8:27 AM on 03.29.2014




Name: Noyd

Cost: £0.69 / $1

Review bit: Trolololtrolololtrololol trololol trololol Lol Lol Lol la la †trolololtrolololtrolololtrololol Lol La la la la trololol trolololtrolo loltrolololtrolololtrolololt rolololtrolololtrolololtrolololtrolololtrololol.

So Noid an old pop culture symbol created to advertise Dominos Pizza and mostly only used in the USA. Known for its antics in taking and destroying people pizza. Wait, that doesnít sound right why am I reviewing a pop culture icon............. hold on........... Oh itís an indie game on XBLIG and not in any way related to that character. Ok I remember it no........... oh the horror the memories are coming back!


Oh you want a review, you know what I wanted ? An enjoyable game. This review was requested and honestly Iím not sure what I did to the developer in the past but it must have been pretty bad to warrant this. The reason this review is out now and not sooner is the game appeared on the Roosterteeth series RageQuit. So I felt Iíd leave it a little bit as no input I could give would ever really have a point compared to its appearance on said series.

You see that opening to the review ? Thatís what Iíve just pretty much sat through for over 4 hours making sure I can cover this game. You see Noyd is not a game in the normal sense, Noyd is a giant paid for bit of trolling. You pay to be trolled by it. The premise is simple, by playing some classic games you have to beat the AI called NOYD. However you know when in most other games someone will claim the AI cheated ? Well in this one thereís no speculation about it, the AI cheats rotten to win.

The game itself is actually a collection of classic games each with a twist of some kind to them. So Pacman, Battleship etc etc. Iíll go through those games I remember and the alcohol required to keep playing hasnít washed away in a little bit but honestly as I keep saying this is you paying to be trolled.

So letís break it down to the games I remember. You can unlock all the games using a menu option as normally youíre meant to beat Noyd on a game from each set then move on.

Pong: †This seems normal ish until Noyd, your opponent, causes the walls to bounce the balls in not predictable ways. This would be fine until after scoring a further point your paddle starts to rotate. What this means is sometimes youíll be trying to hit the ball with the thin end of the paddle. If you score a point with the paddle rotating then the whole level rotates with your paddle also rotating. As the level rotates you controls constantly change to the new position of the paddle. Score a point then and the level will rotate a varying speeds and will change direction randomly.

So to win Pong the first game you have to deal with a spinning level, varying size paddle areas, your controls changing constantly and the bounces not being predictable. I did make it through this game and it was the only one I did.

Battleships: Quite simply Noyd knows where you place your ships most games. I had one where I almost won until he perfectly hit my remaining ships. I had another where Noyd missed once, every shot besides one hit a battleship.

Racing: A simple circular-ish series of tracks you Race Noyd round. The catch here first if you run into Noyd you spin out, if Noyd runs into you, you spin out. Next Noyd will then be able to boost his own speed far past your own. Finally in the last round Noyd will deliberately try to ram you (as Noyd is unaffected by the crash and can just keep going) and get an insane speed boost to nearly three times your speed.

Snake: Starts off fairly simple until it adds ďcaffine applesĒ which cause snake to move twice as fast. Then comes big apples which add two sections to the snake. Next there are walls added. The level is then expanded to require more apples be collected. The final insult though is adding ďstrange applesĒ which spin on the spot and will reverse your controls for a random period of time. Thatís right for a random period of time between about 1 and 5 seconds your controls will be reversed and due to the random time period you will often end up dead simply due to it wearing off the moment you pressed to move.

Hangman : Seems simple enough until Noyd starts changing the rules slightly or more correctly changing the normal conventions such as using acronyms such as BTW and AXA. Then it will switch to text talk and annoyingly add a new section to the options bar without telling you. The only way to access it is to press down on the bottom row to bring up a numerical keypad option. The numerical keypad allows you to guess such words as 4ever. The final level Noyd gives you a sentence. One written in what I can only describe as gangsta street slang to solve.


Breakout: †seems fine until you start to get near complete and then Noyd will really start. Noyd can and will, add new blocks randomly, remove your power ups, speed up the ball and make your paddle shrink. All randomly and the closer to finished you get the more often these will happen up to one a second occurring. If you lose a life half the bricks that have been destroyed will be replaced by ďNoyd bricksĒ, which act just like any other brick except they canít contain power ups. Lose a second life † with Noyd bricks in play and they become real bricks and another half of the missing blocks become Noyd bricks.




Pacman: Noyd simple increases the speed of the ghosts.

Noughts and crosses / Tic Tac Toe : Noyd is programmed to play what is best described as the perfect game. The perfect game is a scenario where due to going first itís possible to force the game to be either a win or draw for you and not a loss by playing a specific series of moves. You initially have 5 seconds for your turn, keep forcing it to a draw and Noyd will keep reducing the time until you have 1 second to make a move and the cursor will be as far as possible from where you need it each move.

Space Invaders: Each win results in Noyd starting the next round with his units lower until the final round where they start right at the lower levels †to smash the shields down during their first moves.

Tower defence: You have to awkwardly move to collect resources to pay for turrets while Noyd spams unit after unit down. And even makes the turrets spin later on so they often fire in the wrong direction before changing to hit the target.

Asteroids : Noid continually adds more and more rocks each round until you lose. One death sends you back to the start.

Simon Says : Firstly the sounds change, then Noyd will say the wrong colours, Then only says the right colours doesnít show them, then goes to a 10+ round sequence.

Shoot the target : Noyd starts after round 1 by having the letters randomly accelerate, then they do it faster (only after you fire so you have to fire way ahead) Then it becomes words then whole sentences and the timer goes down to †less than 8 seconds with double the amount of letters all moving at random speeds and able to go under the UI to hide.

The Final game is minesweeper which I refuse to even play a I dislike the game enough on itís own let alone knowing it will be rigged.

What I will say is the game is competently made with decent enough sound assets, a variety of games and no unintentional bugs. During Hangman alone there is a range of more than 6 possible words / phrases at each stage.

Verdict : So hereís the time I write a comment that can easily be taken out of context and use to advertise the game ďNoyd is a game for those who find Dark Souls 2 a yawn and I want to be the Guy Gaiden to be just a little too easy.Ē

So Noyd left me a-noyed and as such Iím going to suggest a-void it unless you want to do a rage video on youtube, though that has already been done once.

Noyd is a good concept in theory however in practice it quickly sucks the fun out of it and drains any desire to keep playing other than to finally be able to say you beat the Noyd.
Itís competently made and I can honestly say I wish the developer had put his talents towards an actual game rather than a giant piece of ragequit bait / trolling.

Score 2 out of 6
Photo Photo Photo










I'm back and here's a very long article I've been working on. I didn't want to cut it into pieces as honestly I feel it works better as a full article due to the sections. For those who don't wish to read it all (most people I'd imagine) there's a Too long get to the poit bit at the bottom

So at the minute fighting for market dominance we have two main collectible card †(CCG) games. Now a lot of †you reading this will no doubt already be lighting up the fireballs for me daring to say only two were fighting. The obvious call being ďWhat about Magic the GatheringĒ well to that I say Magic isnít fighting, itís really not, every year sees a release of duels of the planeswalker and each version just shows off the latest cards and decks to the main magic game. I understand there is a magic the gathering online game but I also understand itís designed to nickel and dime people to hell and to even stand a chance then youíre going to have to invest quite a bit.

So as Iíve been playing since the Alpha of Scrolls and as some insane person has let me into the Hearthstone beta I thought it a good chance to compare the two on a number of categories which I believe are important.


Full disclosure :

I did not pay for my copy of Scrolls I got it via a UK magazine called PC gamer who game away codes for it. As such I have been playing since the Alpha version before the public beta release.

I do have access to a separate Scrolls testing server. Here balance changes are tried out with others who started playing in the alpha


I was given access to Hearthstone during the closed Beta period after applying for access. I was given access despite not meeting the normal criteria (owning 1 Blizzard game) I got access due to having played the WOW demo once in the past.

I have played almost the same amount of both Scrolls and Hearthstone due to taking a break from Scrolls for a while and using this time to play the Hearthstone Beta .

Hearthstone is now fully release and my opinion is being based the release version. Scrolls is still listed as in BETA and not fully released yet though it is on sale.





Art Direction

Hearthstone goes with a style youíd expect, very cartoony with seeming rounded edges and bright colours. The cards themselves look very good art wise however there is no additional flavour text. on the cards. There is the normal card effect text but there is no world building lore information.



I am not a big WOW fanatic. I played for maybe two days and as such, I have no idea about these units.So while not technically part of the art direction itself this missing piece does feel like a huge missed oppertunity that many other card games have. The Lore / Flavour text is actually found when viewing a card in the collection gallery (something I only discovered very recently) and the text itself is in a separate box to the card, it not viewable in game during play.

I will give credit though to Hearthstone†for the varied arenas you play in an the aesthetic pieces present in them, even if some are clearly more enjoyable than others.


Scrolls on the other hand is a different matter, the art direction in scrolls is geared more towards what Iíd call mystic pallet which is mostly brown colours and shades there of. If this were a first Person Shooter Iíd maybe give credit to anyone who said ďOh no not another grey brown gameĒ but in Scrolls it seems to fit the feel. Luckily for Scrolls itís other colour isnít grey but yellow though.

The card art itself is actually very reminiscent of Magic The Gatheringís style, not quite up to the same epic artstyle however itís within a hairs breadth of it. Which for a small dev team is pretty impressive especially when considering the fact that each card played places a unit on the field. Now I know what youíre thinking, ďBut Hearthstone places units on the board too.ĒWell thats true however they are more like counters representing the card, Scrolls has fully animated units.†


^A very nice bit of card art here for you from Scrolls


The Scrolls units arenít counters, they arenít just the card on the field they are the creatures in the card. What I can best describe it as is Yu-gi-oh style where, if youíve seen any episode, placing a card summons a representation of the creature onto the field. What Scrolls manages to do is something very few card games have done before, it actually gives you a damn good reason to play a digital version as itís capable of showing more than a few simple extra special effects. Scrolls could almost be described as a miniatures game because of this.


Gameplay

Hearthstone follows fairly close to the Magic the Gathering formula but simplified. You gain mana each turn by default instead of using Magic the Gatheringís land and mana tapping system. You start with 3 cards or 5.

Each game a coin is flipped to see who goes first. The player who goes first gets 3 cards and their standard 1 card draw, meaning on turn one that will have 4 cards. The player who ends up second has 4 cards and the coin. The attempt to balance the advantage of going first is that not only does the player going second get an additional card but the coin itself can be exchanged for a one off extra mana crystal. What this means is for one turn only you can just to being 1 mana ahead of your opponent. Beyond this the game boils down to reducing the enemies hero from 30 health to zero by using spells or direct creature attacks.


Scrolls on the other hand has a rather unique approach. the board is split into 30 hexagons, 15 your side 15 on the enemies. each again divided into 5 lanes. At the end of each lane is a idol, each idol has 10 health. You play units on the 15 hexagons your side and rather than choosing when they attack, they have a countdown. When a unitís countdown is Zero it will attack and as such move down the lane hitting the first thing it comes to and you can move the unit in the lanes. The aim of scrolls it to take down 3 of the 5 idols.†


^an empty Scrolls board for you


Unlike traditional collectible card games, in Scrolls your cards are your resources, so you sacrifice a card to gain one resource, to balance out the advantage of going first in Scroll the second player gains a single extra card. †



Variety

Hearthstone has 9 Heroes each with up to 16 unique cards and a total 382 cards in the game with a shared pool of about 238.. Each deck can have a maximum of 30 cards with a maximum of 2 of any card.

Scrolls at present has 300 scrolls broken down into 4 factions with no neutral shared cards though you can mix the decks however each resource type is individual for the most part. Each deck must have a minimum of 50 with no obvious maximum yet and a maximum of 3 of any single scroll.


Depth - (warning this might get complicated so feel free to skip)

Once you get past the initial learning phase I think itís important to discuss the continuing depth and mechanics of the game that you have to learn to progress in.

In Hearthstone each of the 9 hero characters have their own unique hero power and often mechanics relating to their specific cards. Some effects could be said to be similar to an extent each Hero power costing two mana.

The present hero powers are thus : Deal 1 damage to any minion on the field; pay 2 life and draw a card; heal any unit or character by 2 health, gain a weapon (an additional way for the hero to attack) with 1 attack and 2 uses; deal damage directly to the enemy hero; summon a random totem (each with different properties); summon a unit with 1 attack and 1 health; Gain 2 armour (extra health); gain 1 attack (temporarily) and †1 armour (permanent).

On top of the hero powers are the card effects. as youíd expect there are the standard do X damage and heal X amount but some of the more interesting cards include damaging your own hero and in the case of the shaman dec locking out some of your own mana in the next turn. Another interesting attribute is enrage, which triggers when a unit takes damage and another called windfury, which allows a unit to attack twice.


In game the main difference that can be noted from Magic the Gathering is that units do not block attacks unless they have the ďTauntĒ trait, often meaning getting rid of or round the enemies taunt becomes a main part of the game.†


^the Shield is a taunt unit.

The top level cards often also have very unique effects such as drawing from an additional deck, replacing your hero, discarding all your hand and killing all other units on the field and changing your or your opponents health value. There are of course plenty of other effects unique to individual cards and as such Iím going to stop here.

In terms of meta the Hearthstone meta often revolves around specific decks and the rock, paper, scissor method where one deck will become dominant then the next dominant one is often the counter the the previous one.


Scrolls is an entirely different situation and oddly seemingly far easier to explain due to the 4 individual factions.

Energy relies on random effects and building up power. Most of itís spells revolve round direct removal and most of itís units are ranged (meaning certain spells and effects donít impact them) or armoured (meaning unlike Hearthstone all damage is reduced by one each time not using the armour up). A few of itís more recent cards require your mana to count them down or speed up their countdown. Also many of the energy cards have a random element to them, being able to hit random units with no real control over them.

Energy is about being able to control chaos or at least work with it while defending often weaker units which actually have more utility such as the recently introduced piercing attribute which causes a unit to be able attack the first unit in a line and each unit behind it taking half the attack power. E.G. A unit with 5 attack power will hit the first unit for 5 and the next for 2 and the next one behind that for 1


Order relies upon manipulating your units attack countdown via its spells and slowing the enemies own units down. Most of orders units are designed to be placed in specific arrangements to either defend weaker units or to allow units to attack from fortified positions. Itís other main attribute is itís ability to restore itís own units. Either calling them back when they would be killed, calling them back at any point, resummoning them or simply removing negative status effects. The main additional characteristics of order are spikey units that damage attackers and the recently added outnumbered trait, which causes units to become significantly stronger if outnumbered.

Growth relies mostly upon filling the field quick. Itís main defining traits are itís ability to play haste units that attack when summoned and the ability of itís spells and other units to heal themselves and others. Growth creatures are often seen as the weaker creatures about but due to their ability to heal and be buffed temporarily or permanently it allows them to often stay on the field longer and itís main ultimates are its ability to cause all itís units to rush for heavy hitting damage.


Decay is the final faction and is the most unusual. Decay relies mostly upon itís own units being killed †in some way or killing other units. Some decay creatures gain health when nearby allies die, others draw cards on death, yet more gain health or even require units to die to count down. along with this Decay decks are a master of poison cards and curse. Poison as youíd expect is damage over time and curse causes units to take additional damage to normal. certain decay units even punish the enemy for killing creatures by dealing direct idol damage. Decay will often force the opponent to try and make the best of a bad situation. Decay is even capable of killing itís own units to cause damage and destruction.


There are some additional effects which are found in cards of many different factions: relentless is the Scrolls version of ďTrampleĒ from Magic The Gathering. A unit will keep doing until all itís attack is worn out rather than attacking just the first enemy in the line. Dominion found mostly in decay gives units additional attack power or traits if an enemy idol is down. Slayer which was fairly recently introduced will instantly kill units under specific conditions (be it health below a certain level or simply if damage is done to them). Inspiring is an area of effect temporary buff that is only found on two growth units at present. Unique is a recently introduced trait found only on specific faction ďHeroĒ units, unique trait will cause any duplicate of the unit played by itís owner to kill off the previous unit. Pillage is another new trait recently added and mainly found in growth units, this triggers additional effects if the unit is able to hit an enemy idol.


In Scrolls unlike most other CCG games attacking a unit doesnít cause the attacker harm most of the time however the enemy will be able to see when a unit is due to attack. What this does is open the potential for moves often referred to as trap plays. this occurs when a unit is about to attack but the enemy exploits its attack timing to place units that will harm it about. Such units could include ones which apply curse, ones which poison the unit and simple directly applied damage or some of the more interesting ones which use this damage done to buff the unit further.


^Fear the past meta the Wolf rusher. Also note you can see the units here.


The meta game for Scrolls is constantly changing and additional changes tested out to shake up the game so much so that at present there are 15 powerful decks in use, none of which are actually considered a dominant deck. Though you will find each faction has a strong match up and a weak match up depending on who they are vsing and it requires more effort to overcome the deck your faction is weak against.†





Balance

Ah this is where things change a bit between the games.

In Hearthstone there are clearly better and clearly worse cards. Some which could even be considered too powerful such as the priest's ability to take control of an enemy unit permanently, often causing your own powerful units to become your worst nightmare. Or another such combination which can turn a 1 damage unit unto a 37 damage unit in a single turn. It could be said in Hearthstone that it is balanced because so many cards are so powerful, however Iím not sure I personally agree with that, not least due to the amount of strong board wipes. Hearthstone†also suffers from the fact there are some very strong legendaries cards such as 10 health taunt cards or ones that wipe the board leaving the player with a 12 health 12 attack unit and the enemy with nothing.†



It should be noted that most of the standard precon decks can be said to be pretty worthless and as such the game does require you to adjust and construct your own decks out of the cards provided. It should be also noted that is is possible and has been shown to be to use the basic scrolls to reach the top ranks however.

In Hearthstone there are just plain good and bad cards and it is possible for the kobayashi maru (no win) situation to occur where you could never have won and or can lose in a single turn without you even making an actual mistake.



In Scrolls there are some scrolls considered better than others however I personally play what I call my abomination decks (decks with over 150 scrolls in them) and I will say that the game is far more about knowing how to play the cards than specific cards. In Scroll it is often your own mistake in falling for an enemy trap move that will harm you rather than specific overly powerful scrolls constantly destroying you, even if some powerful combos do exist.

It should be noted in Scrolls there are some specific very specific decks which rely on cheap tricks to create unwinnable situations however the smallest number of of turns one such deck can work in at present is 3. The specific deck in question also relies heavily upon random effects which can heavily hamper itís power and while it can be executed in 3 turns it requires upwards of 5 turns to fully set up and is obvious to see coming.

The starter decks in Scrolls, while not great do actually contain some of the core scrolls needed to use a faction and itís mechanics well. I have had standard precon decks outplay me or come very close due to the skill of the player and the precon decks are designed to give players a flavour of the possibility of the decks which with very minor changes can become viable.

Both Hearthstone†and Scrolls are seeing balance changes fairly regularly.


Pricing and Progression

Iíve actually lumped these two together because they are highly related in these games and could be said in both cases to impact the game.




Hearthstone is free to play and forces you to undertake a series of mandatory introductory battles. These battles earn you the basic cards for each hero and defeating each hero is required to unlock their specific decks, that is beyond the initial deck you get. Everyone does the tutorial and then up to level 10 with each hero you unlock specific cards for that decks style.

The card packs in Hearthstone cost 100 gold each and contain 5 cards with at least one Rare minimum. to get 100 gold you can either compete in the arena (at 150 gold cost per entry) whcih can also give cards and extra packs. Or you can complete daily quests which net between 40 and 60 gold with each day giving a single extra quest. Beyond these quests you get 10 gold per 3 wins. The progression is such that you can buy a single pack about once every 2 days using daily quests. However beyond daily quests each pack requires a staggering 30 wins to get, or a purchase price of £1.99 for 2 going up to £34.99 for 40. Only wins against real players count.

While basic cards are earned via play more advanced cards can only be obtained: in packs, via the arena or via crafting using a set amount of dust, dust being acquired by breaking down extra cards. Gold cards can be earned via levelling characters and non standard gold cards are from drops only. Golden cards have custom animations and movement on the card itself.


In Scrolls the initial game price (at present) costs £12.95 the equivalent cost of about a 15 pack bundle in Hearthstone. For the purchase price you get access initially to the decay deck and a second deck of your choosing. You can purchase the other decks either using in game gold or the premium currency shards. Each the basic precon decks cost 6500 gold or 500 shards (equivalent to about £3.50) with the advanced 6 advances decks costing 8,000 gold each or about £4 each if you buy using shards.

Premium currency can only be used to buy each precon deck one, buy cosmetic items (available also using in game gold and a specific selection of scrolls) and buy specific scrolls from a selection (again available via gold). The premium currency is not required to be used to progress.

in addition to a basic precon and the decay precon deck each new player gets 2,000 gold as a starter. Gold can be earned a number of ways, through Judgement the scrolls version of draft play though most gold is earned through matches. a match vs the AI will new 60 to 120 gold vs easy and 90 to 200 vs medium and 150 to 300 vs hard, for a win with a loss being roughly ⅓rd of that. In player vs player a win will net 60 to 400 gold depending on the match length and quality and 90 to 500 gold in ranked play. A loss will net between 0 and 200 gold depending again upon the match length and quality of play ( a turn one surrender is the only known way to get 0 gold for a loss).

In Scrolls in addition to buying premade decks you can buy individual random scrolls for 100 gold each, faction specific scrolls for 200 gold each or scroll packs for 1,000g 10 packs and 1,200g new card specific packs. what this means is in standard play in 4 - 20 games you can buy a full pack and even in about 10 losses you can buy a pack. However there are other ways to earn gold other than regular matches. scrolls offers both 100 gold per achievement such as spectating a game or even buying a Scoll pack (with gold) it also offers puzzle like trials.

While Scrolls has a short 10 minute tutorial the meat of the learning comes from the trials. The easy trials mostly being about teaching basic mechanics strategies more advanced trials are designed such that specific deck designs are needed and simply playing well isnít merely enough. Itís easily possible for a new player to acquire up to 4,000 gold easily from trials alone.

In the Scrolls store every 3 days on rotation are the just for you scrolls. these are a selection of 6 scrolls (2 common, 2 uncommon and 2 rare ) with rare costing 1,000 gold or £0.75 in shards. In a scoll pack you will get for 1,000 gold 7 common scrolls, 2 uncommon and 1 rare, these are also the probabilities of getting each type from random scrolls (1 in 10 for rare 2 in 10 for uncommon etc). Shards cannot be used to buy scroll packs. The Just for you range justifies the higher price due to your ability to pick scrolls you want and know what youíre getting.

However scrolls can also be acquired via judgement and traded. Much of Scrolls' community actually revolves around trading of scrolls, sometimes for other scrolls though more often for gold. At present the most expensive scroll to buy via trading with other players costs 900 gold, 100 less than any Rare in the shop and the least expensive is 150 gold , nearly 10 times less than the shop. Shards cannot be used in trading. The set shop prices actually works to generally enforce a set balance with trading being encouraged due to poor returns when reselling to the shop (25 gold for a common 50 gold for an uncommon and 100 gold per rare). depending on the scroll youíre after and your willingness to wait it can be more economical to sometimes trade or other times buy random packs to acquire the scroll.

Scrolls also has itís own crafting system but unlike Hearthstoneís it isnít designed round the acquisition of new cards. The system is designed around combining 3 cards into a higher tier card. A tier 2 card tracks information about the card such as kills, times played , wins and losses with it. A tier 3 card is a shiny, unfortunately the only difference is a shiny border on the card aesthetically, all units on the field appear the same. What a gold card does do however is give you a % gold boost at the end of the match up to 50%, in practical terms a deck of all gold cards will earn you more gold per match. However due to the rarity of some scrolls and a shiny requiring 9 cards to make (3 tier 2 cards each of which cost 3 themselves) a full set of gold cards for a deck would need 27 of each scroll to get 3 gold versions.

Both Hearthstone and Scrolls and quickmatch and ranked match options along with a version of draft play and challenge play to challenge friends.


In Hearthstone†in about an 1 hours play every 2-3 days you can gain 1 pack of cards with the rate of earning new cards dropping significantly after about 1 hour of play. In scrolls you can earn a fairly consistent 1 scroll pack per 1 hour of play regardless of the total session length.†


Community

Oddly part of a card game can be the community around it so itís probably important to look at that and the community aspects.

Both Hearthstone and Scrolls have a friends list, a blocking list and the ability to challenge friends.

Hearthstone has a number of preset in game emotes you can use and the ability to squelch your enemies emotes.

Scrolls offers lobby chat / out of game chat via its chat rooms. the ability to make your own room if you donít want to use the existing chat rooms such as general, decks, strategy and trading. The ability to whisper to a player, a version of a private message only possible to send to those online though it is possible to send them to a person in game where the normal chat rooms arenít available. Scrolls also offers the ability to spectate games in the client and specific spectator rooms. In a chat room you can also settle arguments in if you wish by throwing down a challenge to the other player and dueling it out. Due to the trading aspect there is. a community present which savy new players can mine for rare cards at low prices. Also players who generally play one of a few cheap decks will often find they arenít as welcomed due to their decision to play less skilled decks.

Scrolls also has a modding community who have made the summoner plugin capable of adjusting UI elements and card sorting along with specific functions such as replay recording and and for sale / in demand wanted scrolls lists customisable for each player. Additionally it is possible though tricky to replace card images in the game and change unit textures and looks. †


Hearthstone has no in game chat beyond emotes.


Bugs

The present bugs in Hearthstone (as of writing this) are: cards not returning to the hand correctly, cards being placed outside the arena / off the board. Server issues causing disconnects due to high server loads, some server lag.

In Scrolls the bugs are: Occasional Rare missing texture issues which often resolve by relaunching, occasional server disconnects / issues. A very annoying recurring bug with the updater which affects various people, there is a solution known for the bug though it has to be applied every time there is an update.


Extra features

Hearthstoneís arenas are interactive, some more than others. This allows you to play with various extra things while waiting on an opponent's turn. Such features include breaking windows, firing catapults and cutting vines. Certain boards are more interactive than others or at least more entertaining to interact with.

Scrolls does offer multiple arenas though not interactive and neither Hearthstoneís nor Scrolls actually change the gameplay mechanics. Scrolls however does also offer customisable avatars to represent you as a summoner, both male and female variants of most looks are available.


Upcoming features

Hearthstone will have generation 2 cards

Scrolls receives regular updates such as the recent rebellion update which brought in mulligan and 50 new scrolls. At some point in the future itís rumoured there will be a single player campaign mode in addition the the trials.

(note both Hearthstone and Scrolls need to be online to play)


Too Long didnít want to read it / tell me which you find better already

Personally I find Scrolls more enjoyable due to the depth of the game as it requires you to set traps for the enemy rather than simply beat them into submission. Games are often about who makes least mistakes rather than who has the most powerful cards. While there are still balance issues in Scrolls most decks which show these also have a big Achilles heel to them regardless of how powerful they are (you could claim they are balanced by this though many rely upon exploiting specific timing issues in them before they become unbeatable). In Scrolls mostly you have to make a mistake for the enemy to take advantage and cause you to lose. You also often have to be losing actually lose and not simply have the enemy turn around and win in a single round. Scrolls is also often about not simply winning a single battle but the whole war. For me Scrolls feels very much like chess due to the idea of traps and needing strategic sacrifices to be made. Be that giving the enemy one of your powerful units to pull them out of position or simply exploiting a tactical flaw.

In Scrolls I find the progression model smoother and despite having spend almost the same time on both I can say Iíve made far more progress in Scrolls than in Hearthstone with far less moments when Iím beaten simply by scrolls I donít know yet. The fact I can play with a 150+ card deck in Scrolls should tell you how there arenít really any huge balance issues around must have single cards and with the testing ground section (multiplayer quick match) being also used to trial new mechanics the game often has a variety of twists to the formula.



If you are after an alternative to the £15 a year Duels of the planewalker series and its restrictions and donít want to pay the fortunate to be competitive in Magic the Gathering Online then Scrolls is your best option if youíre ok with the game mainly being populated at peak times. If however you are new to Collectible card games or after quicker shorter matches then Hearthstone might be more of your thing if you can get past the free to play restrictions. While not pay to win Hearthstone is a game where the free to play model can be seen impacting it and to an extent adding artificial longer grind. Though again Scrolls does cost while Hearthstone is free to play. †

Hearthstone is about card trades and combos while Scrolls is more about unit placement, movement and timing. Or as Iíve said about in on other forums. Hearthstone is checkers, Scrolls is chess








Warning, this Blog post contains strong Language†



Warning, this Blog post contains strong Language†




So with EA holding the headlines it seems all the other companies are taking this as a chance to throw their crap out under the smoke screen. I hope EA is collecting danger money for doing this for them.

The first one seemingly to be bring out their anti-consumer crap is Warner Brothers with their discussions upon patching Batman Arkham Origins. Remember ages ago when everyone was calling for the blood of Phil Phish and Polytron for refusing the patch a critical bug on Fez at a cost of about $50,000 ? Well how about a big company who are deciding if they should bother patching the game. Yet this same company is happily working on DLC for their broken game. Thats right they want consumers to buy more stuff rather than be able to play the game they bought.

Multiple sites around the internet have actually stated Arkham Origins has multiple numerous issues, some of which are outright game breaking. Corrupted saves, repeated crashes and even missions being locked out have been reported on the 360 version. Warner Bros. Games Montreal said that if it decides to release another patch, it will attempt to solve these progression issues, but not other bugs. Thatís right, ďifĒ.

With middling reviews and now souring the customers attitude towards the franchise. Maybe in reality it will be Warner Brothers not Bane who breaks the bat.




Oh but it gets worse. Youíd think saying they potentially wonít patch the game was bad enough. How about not giving a section of their consumer base any of the product theyíve paid for ?


Thats right you read that right. Warner Brothers are potentially not even going to give some users content theyíve already paid for. This is because they bought the season pass on the Wii U. Yeh apparently just because people have paid for this Warner Brothers doesnít feel obliged to give them what theyíve paid for. And as yet there has been no mention of whatís going to happen for said consumers with some predicted Nintendo themselves might have to handle the refunds.


You want to talk about bad business practices ?
EA might be money grubbing nostalgia killing corporate bastards but at least they deliver something. It might be a turd in a box but itís not turning round and basically giving the middle finger to those who have already bought the game.

Batman Arkham Origins is not the game the community deserves but itís the one it needs as a wake up call. One to point out yes there are bad games coming out on the Steam store but look at the big publishers setting the example here, and people are letting them get away with it.


Ok Rant over, and I feel it best to end in an appropriate style.

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So Infamous Second Son is getting closer to being released and the Italian special edition pre-order details have been reveal. Why am I writing about the Italian pre-order pack when Iím from the UK ? well it caught my eye and got me thinking for one main reason. The pre-order pack allegedly comes with not only at least 1 can of RedBull but also some glow in the dark condoms.

No Iím not joking, you read that right, glow in the dark condoms.



So I honestly wanted to post this simply to make as many puns as I could think of about this piece of information.

Iíve heard of gaming safe but isnít this a little too far ?

Is it wise to include such a thing in a special edition or should they have played it safe ?

I wonder what other versions will cum with......

And finally the potential marketing slogans
Infamous second son, make sure itís not yours too
The best next gen game pre-order now to help prevent the next generation of gamers.


So over to you readers to contribute to the puns this deserves to have.
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