Good Games That Are Good: Civilization IV

From a technical and mechanical standpoint, I think that Civilization IV is probably the greatest thing Firaxis has ever done.  In fact, from a technical and mechanical standpoint, I think that Civilization IV is probably the greatest strategy video game of all time.  As soon as you load up the game and Baba Yetu (by the peerless Christopher Tin) kicks in, you know you’re in for an experience, and that is what Civ IV gives you.

Taking what prior Civilization games did and refining them down to one shined and polished experience, this is the 4X game that other 4X games have yet to beat.  By offering a plethora of options and victory conditions for every playstyle, perhaps what really sets Civ IV apart is the fact that it appeals equally to both oldschool  Civ players and newcomers to the series or genre.    With the expansions, especially, Civ IV is just unparalleled when it comes to options and depth of gameplay.

Tesla
It’s also basically unparalleled when it comes to One More Turn syndrome.

662 hoursYou may have noted that I haven’t quite said that this is my favorite 4X game.  That’s because that title goes to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which also holds the title of Pike’s Favorite Game of All Time.  But as much as I love, love SMAC and think it’s a classic, the UI is a little rough and it lacks the polish and finesse of Civ IV.  So don’t be intimidated.  Jump on into Civ IV and experience alternate history the way it’s meant to be experienced – with the Mayans hurling nukes around, of course.

Fire And Rain: aka a Look at the Future

My WoW life yesterday started out pretty well – I beat Blackhand (and I did it in style – top of Recount, baby!) and I was feeling pretty good about the future, about 6.2, about my alts, and so on.

Then, after I logged out for the day, Blizzard dropped the bombshell which I’m sure most of you have heard about by now: We’re getting no flying for the rest of this expansion, and don’t get your hopes up about it being a thing in future expansions, either.

I probably should have seen this coming, but it still felt to me like a punch in the gut.  Partially because it seems like such a weird step backwards in regards to content accessibility.  Partially because the announcement came right after I was feeling really good about the game.  And partially because of the fact that this was all apparently first mentioned offhandedly in some interview with a third party site rather than, I dunno, on the WoW forums or something.  It all just came out of nowhere and felt weird.

On to the topic itself – I have written before about why I wanted to see flying in the future, so I won’t recount all of my reasons here.  Suffice to say that flight was one of the big things I was looking forward to seeing in the future.  I was looking forward to exploring Draenor in a whole new way.  I was looking forward to doing archaeology properly rather than starting a dig, looking at a big mountain, and promptly changing my mind.  And I was really looking forward to being able to finish those Treasure Contract garrison quests, which I’ve done ten million times by now, in five minutes instead of twenty.

But now it looks like none of this is going to happen, and, silly or not, it put a big damper on my mood last night.  And I say this as one of the most hopelessly optimistic video game bloggers you’ll probably ever meet.

flightIt got me wondering about my future with the game and my motivations for playing it.  For the most part I have been a staunch supporter of Warlords of Draenor and of garrisons (beyond a few annoyances), and it was weird to feel negative about it for the first time.  I wondered – and still wonder – how long the feeling will last.  I wonder if I’m being melodramatic.  But I also wonder if I’m not.

That said, I still have a blog to write (and I am having a blast being back, by the way), and as of writing I still have something like two and a half months of game time left thanks to WoW token.  So I suppose for now the best I can do is continue to play until then, and then see how things are and how I feel about them.

We’ll just have to see!

I Am Going To Play a Hunter Forever. Probably. Maybe.

Did you know that in just a couple of months this blog will be eight years old?  Yup.  I have been blogging about this dumb game almost as long as I have been playing this dumb game.  And the entire time, I have been maining a hunter.  Sometimes I play another class as an alt or something (like that druid I raided with in WotLK) but that’s just, you know, an alt.  Not a main.

When I started playing World of Warcraft all those years ago I rolled a hunter because why not; and now here I am nearly a decade later still playing a hunter.

WoWScrnShot_051815_163348Sometimes I think it’s my lot in this Warcraft life; to play a hunter forever.  Which I am fine with, of course.  But then I remember that I also once thought I would never switch mains and yet here I am playing a completely different character.  (Same class, of course, but.)

So things can change.  My life in Azeroth can change.  I can’t guarantee I’m going to play a hunter forever because hey, if I changed mains then I can change classes too.

But I’m probably going to play a hunter forever.

Why?  Because I’m Pike.

Pike groks hunters.

And the Pike Award for BEST RAID BOSS goes to…

"I am not some simple JESTER!"
“I am not some simple JESTER!”

This guy.

THIS GUY.

Do you see this guy?  Do you remember this guy?  Do you remember the infamous chant played on Ventrilo before every pull?

This, my friends, is Shade of Aran.  For my money it’s probably the best boss fight in the game.  It’s hectic, it’s fast-paced, there are a million things to remember, everyone’s running around like crazy, and it felt amazing when the whole raid was in sync and you managed to successfully beat him.

He also comes with some seriously fantastic lore.  Imagine being Medivh’s dad, dying because your son basically exploded with power, and then being a ghost and eternally watching your son mess everything up.  Yep.  Despite all of this, as he was awfully fond of telling you, he was no simple jester.  Confirmed by an in-game book.

Also: he dropped a great cloak that lasted me through Naxx in the next friggin’ expansion because the hit rating on it was great.

Speaking of Naxx:

THE RUNNER UP AWARD GOES TO:

Fourhorsemen_original_TCGFour Horsemen, another absurdly intense fight with a great mechanic.

What are YOUR favorite boss battles?

“Too many alts! (too many aaaalts) Too many alts!”

Yes, that is I, unabashedly earworming you.

I’ve been playing a rotation of alts lately, largely depending on who has rested experience that day.  Specifically, I’m playing a paladin, a mage, and a feral druid.

CFUPxUEVEAAnP_OAnd, truth be told, it’s really not too many alts.  In fact, I think it’s just about… the right amount of alts.  Not too many, but enough for some variety.  (Well, I mean, unless you start throwing in my level 91 hunter and my level 87 hunter and my level 41 hunter, BUT ANYWAY)

The game is really fun lately.  I’m so happy.  I love this stupid gorram game and I love all my stupid gorram characters because I usually give them all huge expansive backstories.  Because I am a nerd.  Anyways, I’m assuming that not playing the game for many long years has given me a fresh new outlook on it and I’m just finding it to be a blast.

Well!  Off to play an alt!  I’m not sure which one yet.

I am super NOT READY for the next expansion yet

So rumors abound that the next expansion is going to be much sooner than usual.  I have no idea if any of these rumors are founded in reality, but they mostly have to do with the fact that the Draenor storyline seems to be drawing to a quick conclusion.

And what do I have to say about all that?

I have to say WAIT

WAIT

I STILL HAVE ALTS TO LEVEL BECAUSE I WANT LIKE TEN MILLION GARRISONS SO I CAN MAKE SERIOUS BANK!

I STILL HAVE LIKE TEN TRILLION ACHIEVEMENTS TO FINISH

I STILL HAVE BATTLE PETS TO LEVEL

I STILL HAVE TITLES TO GET

I STILL HAVE MOUNTS TO GET

over-enthusiastic-kermitYes, yes, it is me.  Pike, the one person who wants Blizzard to SLOW DOWN with content.

Man.  Maybe I should’ve come back a year before I did, back when nothing was happening…

What Made ME A Gamer? …What Makes the Sky Blue?

Today’s Talkback Challenge on the Newbie Blogger Initiative that I’m taking part in is the question “What made you a gamer?”

Wow.  Not even sure where to begin with that one.  You see, I’ve been gaming my entire life.  I don’t remember what my first game was, because games were always there.  Always a part of my life, just like eating and sleeping.

I could tell you about our Commodore 64 and all the dozens upon dozens of games we had for it.

I could tell you about renting the NES from the video store (because back then renting game consoles was a thing.)

I could tell you about arcades and arcade games and my dad holding me up so I could reach the joysticks.

I could tell you about days spent parked in front of the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64, playing some of the greatest games to ever grace a console.

I could tell you about Pokemon (oh hey, I did that yesterday), about Final Fantasy (w… wait, I did that too!) about Starcraft, about The Elder Scrolls, the Civilization series, the SimCity series, about Zelda, about X-Com, about grand strategy, about… well, you get the picture.  It’s a list that goes on and on.

The point, though, is that games didn’t just make me a gamer.  Games made me.  They are more important to me than basically anything else on the planet.  They have helped me get through some of the roughest patches my life has ever seen.  Does all of that make me silly?  A big ol’ nerd?

Probably.

But I like who I am, so it’s okay.

1425156684698

Good Games That Are Good: Pokemon X/Y

It’s no real secret that I love Pokemon.  I have loved Pokemon since the first games came out oh so long ago, despite the fact that I was probably just slightly over the targeted age for them, and of course I got into the cards and the show as well.  I also skipped high school specifically to go watch the first movie in theaters.

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I know a lot of people who sort of “fell out” of the games after the first or second generation, and I’ve gotta say, if you are one of those people then now is the perfect time to get back into Pokemon.  The latest generation – consisting of X/Y as well as remakes of the third generation games – is beautiful and streamlined without losing any of the charm that makes Pokemon, well, Pokemon.

Being able to trade Pokemon online makes the entire process of filling out your Pokedex easier than ever, and the addition of features like O-Power buffs, Pokemon Amie (which I have no doubt will be removed in the next generation, so enjoy petting and playing with your Pokies while you can), TMs that can be used multiple times, and the absolutely gorgeous 3D models make this generation a solid and smooth culmination of all of the best bits of prior Pokemon games.  Best of all, the core gameplay is still there, so even if you haven’t played since the days of Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle, you will have absolutely no trouble jumping right in.

charmander caution

Probably the biggest downside to X/Y (as well as Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire) is that you have to have a Nintendo 3DS or 2DS to play, and those are still fairly pricey.  However, the 3DS library is huge (and fantastic) these days and I’d recommend investing in one if you can spare the change.  Even for the Pokemon games alone, it’s worth it.  Besides, haven’t you been feeling the urge to catch ’em all lately?  …all 721 of them?

On MMOs

As a returning blogger after a long hiatus I have opted to participate in a lovely program called the Newbie Blogger Initiative this year.  I do feel slightly, uh, awkward being involved as a newbie when this blog is almost eight years old, but I digress.

The Newbie Blogger Initiative is aimed towards video game bloggers, and most of the ones I’ve seen are blogs about MMOs.  Most of which are not WoW.  What I find interesting is that MMOs, as a genre, have such a following.  Many people proudly call themselves MMO gamers.  Not me.  I’m just a gamer.  (Or, to use my preferred term, a “video game enthusiast.”)

ENTHUSIASM!
ENTHUSIASM!

Many people can clearly remember the first game they played.  Not me.  I was born alongside the Atari 2600, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Commodore 64 and I grew up with my tiny little paws wrapped around a joystick.  There has not been a time in my three decades of life that I cannot recall games as being a major part of my existence.  When I began playing WoW oh so many years ago, it was not because it was an MMO – it was because it was another video game (and one set in a world I was already familiar with, since I’d been obsessing over Blizzard games for many years already.)

To this day, I don’t really play any other MMOs.  I don’t really have anything against them.  But between all of the other games I regularly play the heck out of, I suppose I feel like I only have time for one MMO.  And that MMO happens to be my first true love in the genre – one World of Warcraft.

Quel'Thalas is the greatest of the nations in lore.  Fact.
Quel’Thalas is the greatest of the nations in lore. Fact.

So yes.  To any curious newcomers to my blog:  That is my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

…there might be time for FFXIV though.  Maybe.  Maybe.

Flashback Friday: Do You Recall When Leveling Took Forever?

I leveled my first character to max before any of the many assorted nerfs to leveling that inevitably followed.  Do you know how long it took?  Well, let’s just say that I started playing that character in May and I hit the then level-cap of 70 in December.  That’s uh… that’s seven months.  And I was playing quite a bit.

These days, however, leveling is astoundingly easy.  Not only have there been multiple nerfs to the leveling process, but heirlooms and various other things exist to make your grind as quick and painless as possible.  As someone who has been playing this game for years, I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty good.  But sometimes I look back on spending a month just to gain ten levels and I… oh no, who am I kidding, there is basically nothing I miss about that.

"You... you mean I have to spend HOW LONG in Stranglethorn Vale?  And on a PvP server??"
“You… you mean I have to spend HOW LONG in Stranglethorn Vale? And on a PvP server??”

BONUS NOSTALGIA: Remembering the days after Blizzard started to nerf player leveling requirements but didn’t re-tune pet leveling so if you wanted to level more than one pet at once as a hunter you had to sleep outside and forego rested experience.  …what, I can’t possibly be the only person who did that, right?

So yeah.  Old school leveling.  How long did it take YOU to do it?

Everyday I'm Huntering