Tuesday, 31 December 2013

You Won't Believe These N Easy Tricks (for some N element of Z+)

Having only been writing this blog since late June, I only have half a year of posts to pore over to find my favourite games of the year.  Still, in that half year I found 24 games that I discussed in some form.  Making a top 10 list out of 24 different contenders seems like a bit of joke.  It's harder to make than the NHL playoffs, but still not very respectable.  Besides, what is the point of making a list only of things I liked?  That gives me little room to complain about things I didn't like.

So here are the top 5 and bottom 5 games that I discussed on the blog this half-year.  Bear in mind that I generally only discuss games that I have played, so there is a skewing away from the actual worst games of the year.

Bottom Five
5. Spelunky
A lot of people really like this game.  A lot.  I did not.  The dungeons may have been randomly generated and there may have been tons of items and enemies, but I just found it very same-y as I played it over and over.  Ultimately, I didn't play it all that many times.

4. Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign
I really liked playing this game for a very short period of time.  The mechanic where you can do a fight over and over again to try to get all the prizes but most of the time you don't get a new prize but instead get basically nothing was so annoying that I just gave up on it.  Again, fun for a while but ultimately it was just frustrating to do the same thing over and over again and have nothing change.

3. Heroes of Loot
This game has so much room to be good and just isn't.  With such a simple game it seems like they could have included 100 different items but instead there are basically three and only two of them matter.  I paid a couple of dollars for it and I guess I played enough to get my money's worth, but I wouldn't recommend it.

2. Representative Democracy
This game continues to suck, though I will admit to be glad to play in the Canadian league rather than the US one or, heaven forbid, the British one.

1. Plants vs. Zombies 2
A game which is probably going to win some game of the year awards definitely makes my worst game of the year.  After so much time to release a game which has fewer features than the first game was just awful.  It's not terribly unusual for a sequel to be worse than the original, but usually that is because they take things in a different direction or ruin the plotline, or even because they simply don't add anything and it is the first game all over again.  But in this case you are just left with the feeling that they got the games in the wrong order - number two is the basic game that has space to build on and number one is the full game with all the neat stuff happening.

I also really don't like games with pay-to-not-play monetization schemes.  I always admired PopCap as a company that focused on making quality games, I don't really think I can hold onto that notion of them anymore.

Top 5
5. Magic: the Gathering
How could I put SolForge or Hearthstone on this list when there's still Magic?  I couldn't.

4. Desert Bus
Released this year for iOS.  My high score is zero and I doubt it will go up any time soon.

3. Rogue Legacy
This is the top of the procedurally generated dungeon game heap for me.  It was too short for my liking, and a later content patch that I have only seen videos of seemed to be targetted at gaming ninjas rather than people who just loved the initial gameplay, but I still had heaps of fun playing this.  If my only complaint is "not enough" then it must be pretty good.

2. Sand Castle Builder
I definitely want to give honorable mention here to all the other browser games that came out this year.  This genre of game has a ton of potential and Sand Castle Builder is the realization of that.  I'm not going to be surprised if this is still at the top of my list next year.

1. Glitch
I think I had more fun in my dream-games of Glitch then I did playing any game that actually existed this year.  But more than that, I feel this this has actually been Glitch's biggest year despite it ending just before the year started.  People who played Glitch went out and started making their own games, and they have all the art from Glitch to do so if they choose to use it.  While the game was running I legitimately wondered whether Glitch lived up to its claim of being made "in the spirit of the web," but after its death it clearly has.

So that's it for 2013, list of N things complete.  For auld lang syne.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Things Seem to be Slowing Down

Well, things have finally stopped happening in Sandcastle Builder.  I just went back and checked my original post and I've been playing since November 26 or 27, so more than a month now.

I've gotten to a point where I need a lot of blackprints, so many that if I were to simply leave the game running and wait for them to accrue it would take me more than a week to get them.  Of course I could instead spend them upping the rate I get them.  It would take me about two weeks to increase my rate to the point where I could acquire the number I need in a single day.

That might be a good idea since I know I will need even more after that, but I'm not really sure how long I can hold out with any positive reinforcement.  I guess I should actually just let the game idle for a long while now and come back to it only once or twice a day to get things going, but I probably need to get a lot more logic levels than I have so I guess I will keep plugging away for now.

I don't think I've yet encountered a stretch of more than about two days where I wasn't getting into something new, so this is a bit of a downer.  On the plus side, maybe I'll get myself a hellfire ring before Diablo III comes out, and possibly I will get a starting version of piggy petter up.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Oracle Review - Legends Grab Bag Part Three

Elder Land Wurm
The wording adds some functionality needlessly to this card.

Defender, trample

When Elder Land Wurm blocks, it loses defender.

So if another effect gives Elder Land Wurm defender then it really shouldn't be able to get out of if by blocking.  The wording I here is a bit tricky.  Personally I'd advocate sticking with the original wording.  It doesn't have defender, it simply can't attack until it has blocked.  But if we must upgrade all "can't attack" cards to "defender" cards then the best I can come up with is this:


As Elder Land Wurm enters the battlefield, choose Aye or Nay, but you must choose Aye.

If the chosen word is Aye then Elder Land Wurm has defender.

When Elder Land Wurm blocks change the chosen word to Nay.

You see, the fact that there is a chosen word links the three abilities.  That way we can have blocking remove only the specific instance of defender that Elder Land Wurm gave itself.  This wording has the benefit of being obtuse in the extreme.  As for the wording they gave it, randomly adding abilities that old cards don't have doesn't make me happy at all.  This is one star for sure.

Energy Tap
Another change from nowhere, this time words just appearing magically where they weren't before.

Tap target untapped creature you control. If you do, add Variable Colorless to your mana pool, where X is that creature's converted mana cost.

So how abut that "If you do" part, eh?  I honestly don't even see what function that serves in the card.  Unless you cast it on a creature that has "cannot become tapped" it isn't going to mean anything anyway.  This wording is clearly one star.

Falling Star
Oh lets see what was done here

Flip Falling Star onto the playing area from a height of at least one foot. Falling Star deals 3 damage to each creature it lands on. Tap all creatures dealt damage by Falling Star. If Falling Star doesn't turn completely over at least once during the flip, it has no effect.

Right, meaningless.  This is all the more reason to be angry about the terrible Chaos Orb wording.  There are two cards that use this mechanic, it should be in the rules.  This raises my ire and receives zero stars.

Floral Spuzzem
This is not a good day for Oracle wordings.

Whenever Floral Spuzzem attacks and isn't blocked, you may destroy target artifact defending player controls. If you do, Floral Spuzzem assigns no combat damage this turn.

This wording is just dead wrong.  It should read:

Whenever Floral Spuzzem attacks and isn't blocked, Floral Spuzzem may choose to destroy target artifact defending player controls.  If it does, Floral Spuzzem assigns no combat damage this turn.  (Floral Spuzzem's controller makes choice on Floral Spuzzem's behalf)

Yeah, that's better.  But actually, two stars.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Diablo 3 Public Test Realm

I was just playing on the Public Test Realm and I'm pretty sure that Diablo 3 will finally be ready for release by March 25, 2014, fourteen years after Diablo 2.

Rather than copying characters I started a level one wizard on the hardest difficulty available - Expert - and just played.  It's hard to even explain, but it was just a lot more fun than it was at release with only minor changes.  Just looking at the paragon system was very exciting.  I found a couple of cursed chests and that was a great addition to the game.

I played a little on "Normal" difficulty as well, which should be called "Playing with your chin" difficulty, because I can't imagine any other reason you would want to fight enemies that can't hurt you and elite packs that die to three attacks.

They haven't given me a beta key so I can't test the really fun stuff, though part of me wouldn't want to play Act V until it actually comes out anyway.  Still, I'd like to see how "Adventure" mode works, so I hope I get an invite sooner rather than later.  Given how many of my suggestions they've implemented so far, I would hope they go ahead and invite me - though realistically I assume they don't know who I am.

Friday, 20 December 2013


I ran some tests on the algorithm for generating logic puzzles in Sandcastle Builder.  In case you aren't one to read code obsessively, the code works like this:

Choose a number of statements and for each statement make it true or false.
For each statement choose whether it will be "and" or "or."
For each true "and" statement, generate two or three true claims to form the statement.
For each false "or" statement, generate two or three false claims to form the statement.
For each false "and" and true "or" statement generate one appropriately true/false claim and then generate one or two additional claims at random.
Asks you to find a statement with a truth value that at least one statement has.

What the algorithm does not do:

Force there to be a true and a false statement.  All statements might have the same truth value.  If this is the case, though, you will always win the puzzle regardless of what you click.
Make sure there is a way for you to determine what the solution actually is.

It's that latter one that I was concerned about.  I wrote code that followed the same algorithm to generate a set of statements and checked how often there was more than one solution set that worked.  It turns out the answer is "most of the time."  Usually even in a four statement puzzle there are three or four different ways to assign truth values that don't violate the conditions set out.  The more statements, the more ways of assigning truth values.  Particularly problematic are things like, "Statement C: Statement C is true and Statement C is not false."  Thanks, I'll get right on that one.

Of course you goal is not to get a truth value for every statement, it is just to find a single statment that has the desired truth value.  The former would be usually impossible given the statements, the latter is actually still very hard but not nearly as hard.

If you are just getting started, though, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  One boost you can unlock through logicats is one that allows you to spend 50 glass blocks to take a second guess.  Once you have two guesses, almost every puzzle is trivial.  If you are looking for a false statment, find any "and" statement where one condition is that another statement, statement X, is false.  Click this statement and if you are wrong then that statement is true which means all its parts are true which means X is false.  If you need a true statmeent then you look for an "or" statement that claims statement X is false.  If that statement isn't right then it is a false "or" statement which means all of its claims are false so statement X must be true.  Of course it's just a bonus if the statement is contradictory.  X and not X is conveniently always false and X or not X is conveniently always true, so as long as you can find the "or" false/"and" false pattern two tries is all you need.

The odds you can find such a statement are very high.  If you can't then you can look for "X is false or/and X is false" which always give you two mutually exclusive statements regardless of whether you are looking for true or false.  You can also look for tautological statments and use them to do some quick logic on the rest of the statements.  Another trick is to look for statements that claim that they are false.

Obviously a statment cannot actually claim itself to be false because that's a problem in propositional logic.  So if you have a true "and" statement is will never have "I'm false" as one of the conditions because then it couldn't be true.  If you have a false "or" statement then it can't have "I'm false" as a condition because then it would be true.  Because of this we know what part of the code we went through to generate these statements.  If you have statement X which says, "X is false and Y is false" then it's not just handy because you know that statement X must be false, but you also know that statement Y must be true.  If statement Y was false then the conditions of X would be satisfied and so X would be true which can't be.  Similarly, if statement X says "X is false or Y is false" then you know that X is true and that Y is false.  This can be a helpful out if you need it.

All in all, I haven't actually lost a logic puzzle in a long time, but just as importantly, I haven't had to waste seconds thinking about them either.  A quick scan of the options and I am done.  Thinking for a long time about the statements really sucks because: a) you may start thinking about a subset of that statements that is not logically resolvable at all; and b) why would I want to be a sandcastle slowder when I could be a sandcastle fastder?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Oracle Review - Legends Grab Bag Part Two

Missing Counters
Here are three cards that have something in common, and the title of the post is going to tell you what.  Just like Alchor's Tomb which I covered in an earlier miscellaneous post before my more thorough read of Legends, all of these cards say something about putting counters on a permanent to indicate that they have affected them.  But when we take a look at the Oracle text:
Whenever Aisling Leprechaun blocks or becomes blocked by a creature, that creature becomes green. (This effect lasts indefinitely.)
When Brine Hag dies, all creatures that dealt damage to it this turn become 0/2. (This effect lasts indefinitely.)
Tap: If target Plains is tapped for mana, it produces colorless mana instead of white mana. (This effect lasts indefinitely.)
No more counters.  Now to be fair the case of the Gnomes the card never actually told you what to do with the counters, so one could argue that the wording is completely consistent with the original.  The other two definitely should put counters on the things that they affect.  All of these get one star.

Anti-Magic Aura
This card was reprinted, so the Oracle text does not follow the original wording.
Enchant creature 
Enchanted creature can't be the target of spells and can't be enchanted by other Auras.
Anyway, the original destroyed auras and prevented it from being targeted.  In fifth edition they made it so that it prevented enchantment instead, which fits the way they used to reword things back in the day.  Given the fifth edition rewording the Oracle text makes perfect sense, so I guess this gets two stars.

There is something weird here about the counters.

Enchant creature you control
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during your untap step if Cocoon has a pupa counter on it.
When Cocoon enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature and put three pupa counters on Cocoon.
At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a pupa counter from Cocoon. If you can't, sacrifice it, put a +1/+1 counter on enchanted creature, and that creature gains flying. (This effect lasts indefinitely.)
I don't think its entirely clear from the original card whether we are meant to keep the creature tapped as long as it has counters and the Cocoon or whether the counters are supposed to keep it tapped even without the counters.  It can go either way, though, so I'm fine with what they did here.

What bothers me is that the original reads more like the benefit should be gained as a delayed trigger from removing the last pupa counter, rather than "if you can't [remove a pupa counter]."  Maybe this is too much of a quibble, though.  I think it still deserves two stars.

I was going to fit Elder Land Wurm in here but I got distracted and it's time to say goodnight.  Next week, we'll see what's wrong with that wurm.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Various Things

Well, the Marvel Puzzle Quest game requires an always on internet connection, so I can't actually play it as a mobile game, which is annoying to me.

I unlocked a boost in Sandcastle Builder for getting 20 goats, so now I'm going all out for goats, by which I mean I am not switching on the Monty Haul problem and hoping to lose.  My Achronal Dragon is up to 42,740 power but nothing has happened yet, other than that I'm just gradually creeping up the orders of magnitude.

I'm on rewrite-from-scratch six of Piggy Petter.  This time... will be different!

Also, I'm going to write a simulariton of logicats to see how many of them are actually logically resolvable in a single guess.  It sure seems like there are a lot that are not.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Plants vs. Zombies Redesign

Plant's vs. Zombies 2 had a major reworking.  They removed all of the locked games completely and made all the levels purely linear.  They got rid of the concept of redoing levels with challenges to earn stars.  They replaced both of these with nothing at all.

Now I'm not exactly sure what motivated them to do this other than possibly the game doing poorly, though I can't find any indication that it actually did poorly.  Rather it is winning game of the year awards and was downloaded 25 million times in the first month after its release.  But when several months after release a game has a major redesign that removes elements of the game and that does not unlock a fourth level that has been sitting locked since the game came out, it makes you think something must have gone wrong.  The thing about free to play is that you have no idea what 25 million downloads means in terms of dollars.

But if your game is doing poorly then removing the majority of your monetization from it doesn't seem like a way to fix that.  Sure, lowering prices might help, but simply taking out the parts of the game that you hoped people would pay for... well, I don't quite get how that increases your sales.

It's possible that making the game linear without all the unlocks is more appealing to a certain segment of players and they hope that this segment of players will buy the extra plants and the boosts that they weren't buying previously.  Maybe the reason people weren't buying boosts and plants was because the game was tedious and they didn't want to play it.

But the idea of getting these people back into the game by taking out the stuff in the game seems dubious to me.  I would think that people who do things like buy the extra plants would tend to do so during the honeymoon period and not during the part where they are bored with the game.

Anyway, I really don't understand the redesign.  Of course I don't understand the original design either, which, as I have said before, seems like a feature-light copy of the first game that wants you to pay more the less you want to play.  Now it is a feature-lighter version of the original.  I sure wish they had simply added a couple of features and a bunch of levels to the original and asked me for $20 for it, and then they'd have my $20.  But in this new world of free to play games, it is pretty clear that almost no one actually wants <i>my</i> money.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign

There's a free game from the makers of Puzzle Quest, and it's a Puzzle Quest game!

I'd actually never played Puzzle Quest, so I didn't know exactly what it was like, but I had some idea.  Also it's bejeweled, so everyone already knows how to play it.  On the other hand, I also never played much bejeweled, so I'm not any good at it.

So you match tiles gaining coloured points for each tile of the colour your remove.  Each hero has damage for each colour and power that use tiles of each colour.  Match tiles, damage enemies, use powers, win, etc.

Of course free games aren't free, so the question is how they are trying to get your money.

You progress by beating missions, which are fights.  Each mission has a series of randomized rewards.  You get a reward the first time but each successive time you have a random chance of getting jack instead of getting something real.  The rewards are crystals (ISO-8), coins (hero points) and comic book covers.  Comic book covers add a power or a level of a power to a hero.  If you don't have the hero then you get the hero.

You can buy more or use ISO-8 to go up levels, but the maximum level of a character is based on the rank of powers they know.  So to progress you mainly need to pick up covers.  You get some from missions at the beginning, but after giving you a few heroes to start with you start having to deal with random covers.  The problem is that to level up a hero you need lots of covers for the same hero and there are lots of different random heroes to get.

You can also level up powers by spending coins, so I think that's their main expected source of income.  Buying covers from the store is random, so you'd have to drop a fantastic sum to get anywhere.

The way I see it there are a few cash points.  You can buy coins for about a cent each or about two thirds of that if you are willing to put in $20.  So with the 3k coins you'd get from that $20 you could buy up the levels of your heroes' powers and level up much more quickly, though you'd still need crystals from playing to do so.  You can also buy new heroes for 300 coins each.  The 300 coin heroes are always two star heroes which are better than the one star heroes you get from most of the missions.

So $20 to level a little faster, but if you really want to go ape with the power characters, you are probably looking at dropping a lot more than that.  The problem is that once you invest you have to invest more.  If you unlock a two- or three-star hero, you are unlikely to get another copy of them without spending more.  You need to spend on random heroes to unlock their other powers, and then you have to spend $5 on each power.

All in all I would think that $100 in you could get pretty much whatever you want, though it may be more like $200 since I don't know anything about how many high rank heroes there are.  The game seems to play okay without spending money, just make sure you don't skip the PvP since that's comparatively large rewards for little effort.

I'm not sure if I find it really fun.  The big problem is that thing where you can do a mission more than once and have a chance when you do to crap out on the reward.  Replaying an easy mission five, six, or ten times is pretty tedious, even if the basic gameplay is pretty good.

I'm playing this game for free for now, but I'm not going to be paying in.  I don't find their payment structure as absurd as Plants vs. Zombies 2, was, though.  You can get it on Steam or on iOS, so I'll probably be playing it during my lunch hour at work.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Oracle Review - Chains of Mephistopheles and Gauntlets of Chaos

That's a lot of "of" for just to cards.  Well, I mean, it's more than you'd expect.  It certainly isn't as astonishing as if it were three.  Did you know that I know how to spell "Mephistopheles" off the top of my head?

Chains of Mephistopheles
I had the pleasure of seeing this card hit the table in real competitive magic recently.  At a Star City Games Open Legacy event someone dropped this one against an unsuspecting opponent.  Here, "unsuspecting" is a word to indicate that the opponent picked up the card to read it.  At this point, the owner said, "Don't read it, I'll tell you what it does."
If a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step each turn, that player discards a card instead. If the player discards a card this way, he or she draws a card. If the player doesn't discard a card this way, he or she puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
If a thing would happen, instead a different thing happens, and if it does, that thing happens, but if it doesn't then a different thing happens.  It's actually pretty simple, and I always love a wording that replace an event with that same event.

So why not read the original card?  Well there isn't really any reason.  It makes for a funny story but the Oracle wording is pretty much the original wording with a bit of sprucing up and rearrangement, nothing too fancy.  I actually find the original wording quite readable, and understanding that "instead" must mean a replacement effect, it's pretty hard to misinterpret how it should be taken.

Chains of Mephistopheles is a super straightforward wording for a bizarre card has caused a fair bit of confusion in its day.  I easily give it...

I love replacement abilities
Gauntlets of Chaos
This one is not quite so straightforward.
5, Sacrifice Gauntlets of Chaos: Exchange control of target artifact, creature, or land you control and target permanent an opponent controls that shares one of those types with it. If those permanents are exchanged this way, destroy all Auras attached to them.
Okay, that doesn't look so weird, after all, exchange is a pretty sensible substitution for give and take.  And, after all, they did reprint the gauntlets and make that fix in 5th Edition.  There was also a Chronicles reprinting but that is between the two, and the Master's Edition reprinting never counts in terms of wording.

What are they doing to young Olle RĂ¥de?
So there you have it.  They just used the latest printing.

But wait!

This is not the same wording as on the 5th Edition printing at all. Look at those last sentences.

Sure, the wording on the 5th Edition card came straight out of nowhere, but regardless of how sensible the change to exchanging the permanents was, that basically came out of nowhere as well.  If a card changes from one thing to another thing, then it changed.  Why the take-backsies?

By all rights the Oracle wording should say "those enchantments cannot be regenerated" and should not say, "if those permanents are exchanged this way."  This is really going straight into arbitrary land.

I've said this before, but it's not so much that the wording on this card is bad, it's more than the fact that this card is worded this way makes you wonder why they stuck with latter-printing wordings of other card when they sucked.  It is vicariously, then, that Gauntlets of Chaos desernves...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Pie Rule

In the past I wrote about bidding systems and how they can only balance games to a certain granularity.  Not a groundbreaking observation but a worthwhile one.

This past weekend told about the "Pie Rule" for balancing going first in a two player game.  This is a rule modeled after the cake splitting algorithm of "I cut, you choose."  One player is chosen to take one turn.  The other player then decides whether they would like to be the first player who has just made that move or the second player whose turn is just starting.

You could use this rule to balance a game where the second player has the advantage too.  Of course you can't take two normal turns and then give the first player the option of taking the second seat because the first player could presumably sabotage their first turn so badly that they would be sure the second player's advantage was maintained.  Instead, have one player take two turns, for both the first and second player, then have the other player decide whether to be the first or second player after that.

You could, in fact, extend this rule to any number of moves.  A chess master could presumably sit down at a board and make a dozen moves and then ask me which side I'd like to play and I would have no idea.

Of course this does give one player an advantage.  In the chess example, I have a lot to gain by having someone better than me make the first number of moves.  If they try to keep the game even then they probably play my eventual side better than I would have.  If they play giving one side an advantage then I have a 50/50 shot of ending up with that.  Unless they can seriously next-level me I stand to gain as the weaker player, and they probably can't reliably trick me because if they are better than me then I may miss their trick.  If I am sure they are better than me I can take any skill out of their end by flipping a coin to make my selection.

And while this is obvious 20 moves into the game, the same should hold true for making just one move.  If the better player is the mover, it will tend to skew the game to make the match closer because they will present a more even board than the weaker player could manage.  Conversely, if the weaker player moves and the better player chooses then the better player is at a greater advantage than they would be if a coin had been flipped to see who went first and the game had been played normally.

So this method of choosing who goes first does not systematically favour the mover or the chooser but it does favours one or the other depending on who is the better player.  Ultimately, you are still flipping a coin to see who gets an advantage.

And of course all of this goes back to actually dividing pies between two people.  If you are very good at cutting a pie into two even pieces then you want to be the one choosing, not the one cutting, you don't want to be backed into a corner where you are forced to make an even split where you know the opposition would have made an uneven one.  If you are poor at cutting a pie in half then you want your opponent to make the cut so that they can't take advantage of your mistake.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Knowledge Vault Addendum

I implied - or more directly stated - that it would be a simple matter to revise the wording on Knowledge Vault to make Sacrificing the Vault an activation cost of the second ability. Not so.

If you sacrificed the vault as a cost of the second activated ability then the triggered ability would go off and put all cards from the vault into your graveyard before the activated ability had time to resolve.

What a blunder!

Well, my one star rating stands, because, as I've said before, if a good wording is not supported by the rules, it doesn't make me like a poor substitute any more.

But how could we possibly work Knowledge Vault to make it work the way it ought to work?

Well, I thought of a few ways to go about it.

Instead of:
2, Tap: Exile the top card of your library face down.
0: Sacrifice Knowledge Vault. If you do, discard your hand, then put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's hand. 
When Knowledge Vault leaves the battlefield, put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard.
We could go with:
2, Tap: Exile the top card of your library face down.
Sacrifice Knowledge Vault: Discard your hand, then put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's hand. 
When Knowledge Vault leaves the battlefield, put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard. If this ability would trigger when an activated ability of Knowledge Vault is on the stack, instead it triggers the next time there are no activated abilities of Knowledge Vault on the stack.
Though it has the odd side effect of putting the card from the top of your library into your graveyard if Knowledge Vault is destroyed in response to the first activated ability when it would otherwise be exiled. So we could try something like:
2, Tap: Exile the top card of your library face down.
Sacrifice Knowledge Vault: Discard your hand, then put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's hand.
When Knowledge Vault leaves the battlefield, unless it was sacrificed to pay the cost of an activated ability of Knowledge Vault, put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard.
But there are ways you could end up with a Knowledge Vault with activated abilities that have sacrifice as part of the cost that are not the second Knowledge Vault ability. The trouble is that while there are various ways to link abilities in Magic, they all have to do with referring to cards affected or choices made as part of one ability. You can't just state that two arbitrary abilities are linked and that one triggers or does not trigger off the other.

There is another way, though. My proposed wording for Knowledge Vault, after some thought, would be:
2, Tap: Exile the top card of your library face down.
Knowledge Vault loses all instances of "When Knowledge Vault leaves the battlefield, put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard." if any, Sacrifice Knowledge Vault: Discard your hand, then put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's hand.
When Knowledge Vault leaves the battlefield, put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard.
The "if any" protects against the case where you target your animated Knowledge Vault with a Quicksilver Elemental. Since the elemental would not have the triggered ability it couldn't lose it to pay the cost of the sacrifice ability.

I think the wording does the trick. It would still have odd consequences if you somehow replaced the sacrifice payment with an effect that left it in play, but for now that's very difficult and I'm much happier with that defect than the defect where your opponent can respond to the sacrifice ability by destroying it to deprive you of your cards.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Remembering Glitch

Remembering Glitch makes me sad, largely.  I've been trying to work on things that put its art to use but I haven't gotten very far off the ground yet aside from little things like the piggy petter and the race track.

It turns out there are at least two completely distinct groups that are attempting a full reboot of the game as it was when it shut down.  I don't know how far along they are, but maybe one day it will be just like my recurring dreams and I'll wake up to find that I can log in to the game again.

Of course with all of the source code released that may be more possible than it was before, but I know that one of the teams was working on it well before that.  They were planning on making the game entirely in HTML/javascript rather than employing Flash.

These are some pretty big projects while my own little project for using Glitch art has just been restarted from scratch as I get better and better at javascript coding.  Sandcastle Builder has given me a big boost as well, really showing me what a stupid clicking browser game can do.

Anyway, maybe I'll start playing some other things again, but for now it's coding and clicking on kitties.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Oracle Review - Knowledge Vault and Chain Lighting

A card that will never see play in any format and a card that will always be plausible when legal, and neither with good Oracle text.

That Amy Weber art is really sweet, they don't make them like that anymore.
2, Tap: Exile the top card of your library face down. 
0: Sacrifice Knowledge Vault. If you do, discard your hand, then put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's hand. 
When Knowledge Vault leaves the battlefield, put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard.
That second ability is something pretty odd.  Why does it cost 0 to activate and then sacrifice the vault as part of the resolution?  Wouldn't it make more sense to just sacrifice the vault as the cost of activating the ability?

It makes a difference, certainly, that the ability is worded this way.  But I don't see how the Oracle wording is more like the wording on the card than a more straightforward wording would be.

In fact, let's look at Life Chisel:

Sacrifice a creature: You gain life equal to the sacrificed creature's toughness. Activate this ability only during your upkeep.

Well, that's easy.  Quite obviously, Knowledge Vault scores...

Just not great

Chain Lighting
Any spell that allows multiple decisions to be made and abilities to be activated in the middle of its resolution is a little weird. So how did they word Chain Lighting?
Chain Lightning deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Then that player or that creature's controller may pay RR. If the player does, he or she may copy this spell and may choose a new target for that copy.
 Okay, let's take a quick look at the words on the card again:
Chain Lightning does 3 damage to one target. Each time Chain Lightning does damage, the target or target's controller may then pay RR to have Chain Lightning do 3 damage to any target of that player's choice.
I think a big, "What happened there?" is in order. I mean, how on earth did we go from when it does damage you can pay to make it do more damage to the target or target's controller can copy it? First of all, the original didn't let you pay to deal more damage if the damage was prevented and the new version doesn't have any clause regarding that. Second, copying a spell is very different than having the same spell deal damage more than once.

So did these changes get made? Chain Lightning has been reprinted twice. Once in Master's Edition, where they did not update the wordings on cards, and in fact printed them with their original text even if the rules had been updated, the second time was in a Premium Deck Series deck.

I guess a Premium Deck Series is a new printing, and so takes precedence over the old printing, but we're not talking about Revised edition here. This was 2010 when they decided to reprint a card with huge functional changes. That seems pretty unforgivable to me. Now, it's quite possible that I'm getting the chronology wrong here, and that they first decided to reword Chain Lightning and then printed the premium deck series, but there is something about the product page that makes me blame everything on this printing. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine what.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

My Troubled Dreams

I've been dreaming about Fibonacci numbers recently.  This game is costing me serious sleep.

I'm on NewPix 215, which, if I know my One True Comic lore, should mean I'll be entering the LongPix quite soon.  I'm not sure how that will change the mechanics of the game.

My methods of expanding my castles have changes twice today.  I actually collected a huge number of castles off of kitty clicks, but not I'm onto regular clicks.  I've clicked over ten thousand times since I bought a buff that make that matter.

There's a badge for 50 trebuchets.  I think maybe if I buy them that will unlock boosts for my next tier of castle production.

Must keep clicking.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I'm not cut out for this

I played a Hearthstone arena this weekend, and maybe this says something bad about me, but I'm really just not cut out for competition.  I went one and two and then every successive game I was just hoping to lose so that I could be out and not having to keep trying.  I ended up getting five wins, so it was quite excruciating, especially since one of those games my opponent just gave it away when he could have won and another I was on two outs of fourteen and ripped for the win.  I thought I was going to lose and it was denied.

And stop for a moment to take a look at this game.  That weapon I have has two attack, so my opponent needs a taunt guy or life gain or he dies.  At the time you are seeing this game, his turn has been going on for approximately a minute.  That's how long it took him to decide to play that newly summoned engineer on the right.  It took him another 30 seconds or so to decide that the card he drew wasn't going to save him.

Playing games against other humans is so agonizing.  They think for so long then they either have no play or play badly anyway.  Or even worse they make an intensely obvious correct play.  Think, think, think, use a perfectly sized removal spell to kill your only guy, play another guy, swing with the team.  Next turn do it again after more interminable deliberation.  Basically they have two options: tempo me out or concede because they can't take the pace of their own play.  If I were them I can't promise I wouldn't choose the latter but it wouldn't take me so long.

I recall reading that for gambling addicts near wins feel like wins, so they are motivated to keep playing even when they are losing.  For me, near losses feel like losses, and even solid wins feel like losses if my opponent takes too long to play them out.  Like I say, maybe this reflects poorly on me, but if playing a game makes me wish that I could just lose and be allowed to stop, then probably I shouldn't be playing.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Sandcastle Builder

Oh my goodness, some weird things have happened.

Summoning Temporal Knights
to protect me?
Rivers seem to be paying out.
Some buffs are Swedish.
And... tiny embedded YouTube video?!?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Oracle Review - Legends Grab Bag Part One

I might go through a lot of Legends cards this way because there are a lot of cards that merit a minor comment.

Enchant creature

Whenever a player activates an ability of enchanted creature with Tap in its activation cost that isn't a mana ability, you may pay 1. If you do, counter that ability. If you don't, destroy Imprison.

Whenever enchanted creature attacks or blocks, you may pay 1. If you do, tap the creature, remove it from combat, and creatures it was blocking that had become blocked by only that creature this combat become unblocked. If you don't, destroy Imprison.

I strongly disapprove.  The idea of "preventing" and ability from being used is not the same as the idea of countering it after it has been used.  The effects of this card should be replacements abilities that make it so the attack or ability never happens at all.

Remove Enchantments
Return to your hand all enchantments you both own and control, all Auras you own attached to permanents you control, and all Auras you own attached to attacking creatures your opponents control. Then destroy all other enchantments you control, all other Auras attached to permanents you control, and all other Auras attached to attacking creatures your opponents control.

The Oracle text of this card is quite long at 58 words, but there are only 20 different words.  That means that words used in this text are used on average 2.9 times.  We can make fun of cards like Deflection and Reflecting Mirror for overusing the word "target" but this card uses the words "all", "you" and "control" six times each.  It's got four uses of "attached" and "Auras."  This wording is outlandish, and three stars for sure.

Pit Scorpion/Serpent Generator
Whenever Pit Scorpion deals damage to a player, that player gets a poison counter. (A player with ten or more poison counters loses the game.)
4, Tap: Put a 1/1 colorless Snake artifact creature token onto the battlefield. It has "Whenever this creature deals damage to a player, that player gets a poison counter." (A player with ten or more poison counters loses the game.)
702.69a Poisonous is a triggered ability. "Poisonous N" means "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, that player gets N poison counters." (For information about poison counters, see rule 104.3d.)

These cards do not require that the damage be combat damage and are thus not Poisonous.

Sword of the Ages
Sword of the Ages enters the battlefield tapped.
Tap, Sacrifice Sword of the Ages and any number of creatures you control: Sword of the Ages deals X damage to target creature or player, where X is the total power of the creatures sacrificed this way, then exile Sword of the Ages and those creature cards.
400.7g A resolving spell or activated ability can perform actions on an object that moved from one zone to another while that spell was being cast or that ability was being activated, if that object moved to a public zone.
At a glance I didn't see how the sword's ability can find the sword to exile.  400.7g solves this problem.  If the sword or the creatures move from one zone to another after the activation but before the resolution the exile effect will not be able to find them but the sword will still deal damage for those creatures.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Castle Builder

Well, here is another browser game as it refers to itself, and this one is obtuse.

Sand Castle Builder, the self-proclaimed Dwarf Fortress of Idle Games, is unlike Cookie Clicker and Candy Box in that not only is progression very non-linear, but also how you are even progressing starts off as a mystery.

We're not talking about a "why would I want more cookies anyway?" type existential question.  More like, "What units is the game measuring time in?" and "How can I buy any of these things?" and "What just happened when that timer hit zero?"

I am not going to answer any of these questions.  If you are not the kind of person who wants to figure out what is going on in a game by yourself you probably won't like this game.  And I don't mean the sort of person who likes to explore a landscape and see what is hidden there, I mean the sort of person who likes to do tests on practice dummies to average out damage numbers to figure out if those two 5% bonuses add to 10% or multiply to 10.25%.  This is a game for spreadsheet makers.

Not that I can think of any meaningful way to make a spreadsheet for it, which is part of the allure.  In a game where sometimes it is wrong to generate more of your fundamental resource because it is the wrong time to do so, it is hard to imagine what my spreadsheet would look like.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think ultimately this game might suck really bad.  Just like in Cookie Clicker you accumulate resources and then buy things that make you accumulate more resources.  However, in this game the golden-cookie-equivalent dominates your production so massively that doing the other things might not really matter much.  At any rate, there is a huge amount more to this game than I have seen so far, so I'm not going to jump to criticize yet.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

My Hearthstone Recommendations

I'll be making a forum post on the Hearthstone Beta forums today with a round of recommendations. Generally I have a pretty good track record for recommendations on Blizzard games. In fact, they implement my recommendations in virtually every case. I take that to mean that I successfully catch the zeitgeist of Blizzard games, rather than that they actually listen to me, but given my track record, I think it's probably better to implement sooner rather than later. We don't want another Diablo 3 launch, do we?

Here's my recommendations for changes:

Change daily quests to reset at a particular time of day, rather than 23 hours after the last time you got a quest. Having a fixed time of day where your opportunity to get a quest is refreshed is a much more sensible system for the majority of players. I would like to log in once a day and get my quest but I do not want to have to pay attention to what time of day that log in must be, or gradually work my log in time back to 7-ish if I happen to log in at 10 one day. Managing getting my daily quest is not a fun game.

I recognize that for a global game the reset time is going to be in the middle of the day for some people, or may fall at other awkward times, but it essentially cannot be any more awkward than the current system is. Under the current system to actually get one quest a day you have to log in around the same time every day. If you are doing that then you will get your one quest a day under either system, no matter what that time of day is. This is also a loss for nutters who might actually get more than one quest a day by logging in nearly an hour earlier each day. I don't feel bad about that.

Add a "Random" button for selecting your opponent in practice mode. When I wanted to level up my Shaman to get a couple of basic cards to build a deck it would have made for a better experience. I understand that not many people will be spending a lot of time in practice mode, but this functionality isn't exactly a big ask, either.

Take Equality out of the paladin Expert practice deck. Wow does the AI not understand this card.

Split the Arena into a Beginner and an Expert section. The only difference between the two is the prize structure. In the Beginner section you get slghtly better prizes for bad performance (0 or 1), slightly worse prizes for average and good performance (3 to 5) and considerably worse prizes for very good performance (6 or more), with the overall being a slightly lower total payout.  Design the structure to make sure that a person who goes 50-50 does worse in Beginner regardless of the distribution of their wins over different entries.  It may also be a good idea to make it only 6 or 7 wins to a forced retirement instead of 9.

I feel that adding this mode would make for a healthier game as people would be able to self-select their reward structure. People who are timid about risking real money to play for rewards will prefer a structure where there is less riding on each game. This may raise any number of objections - no one wants to play for lower rewards so no one will play Beginner, Beginner will attract weaker players so ringers will go there and clean up, there will be an exodus from Expert because it will always make sense for the bottom players in Expert to make the switch to Beginner, etc. - but Magic two kinds of draft queues with precisely the same payout philosophy and both kinds fire.

I'm just going to assume that constructed tournaments, different characters to represent the same class, and balance changes are on the way and need no mention.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Mana Screwed

People don't like getting mana screwed.  They also don't like getting mana flooded.  When SolForge came out I saw various people saying that it was great that you couldn't get mana screwed because you could always play your cards.  In Hearthstone you always get one more mana a turn, so you never don't get mana.

I'm sure that VashtaNerada felt great about having seven cards in hand here
But you can draw no rank three cards on your third trip through the deck in SolForge.  You can get all threes in your Hearthstone hand and then draw twos later on and never manage to deal with your opponent's one, two, three, four, five.  You can trade card for card and then draw one and two drops while your opponent draws sevens and eights.

In card games your shuffle your deck.  There will never be a card game where you can't get frustrating draws that seem to lock you out of the game while your opponent runs all over you.

If there was - for example, if you played Magic with pre-ordered deck - then it wouldn't be much of a card game.  It would be more like paper, rock, scissors, and even that only if the metagame was very flexible.  More likely it would be like flipping coins to see who wins.

Any game with no element of chance and no element of hidden information is not much of a game.  Chess and other games of strategy might seem like counter examples, but in reality there is an element of chance in them.  If you knew the total implications of all of your moves then you would be playing tic-tac-toe, not chess.

So basically sometimes you are going to get screwed, like, for example, when you finally rip back to back big dudes and your opponent rips back to back Mind Control.  Tough.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Card Games that Start with H

I got an invite to play HEX on Wednesday.  Then I noticed that I'd received an invite to the Hearthstone beta on October 9.  It turns out that they give you no notification of that through your battle.net account, you have to check your email.  And gmail sent it to the "Promotions" tab when all the other stuff from Blizzard went to my normal inbox.

So I wen to both.  When I installed the new battle.net desktop app it would not let me download Hearthstone.  Then it wouldn't update itself.  Then I couldn't uninstall it.  Then I couldn't play Diablo anymore either.  I was very happy.  It turns out that I had to update Flash in Internet Explorer to fix the problem.  I'm sure that makes a lot of sense somehow.

Well I played some Hearthstone and I don't think I had as much fun with it as I thought I would have.  Having all those basic cards at the beginning gives you a lot of flexibility on how you build a deck, but that's not necessarily what you want when you just started playing.  I couldn't find a way to load the basic deck and modify it as a custom deck, which would have been nice since it would let you develop a deck from the basic deck by swapping out cards you don't like as much instead of building a deck from scratch when you've never played.

Unlocking the classes meant playing 8 games which was fine.  Getting all the basic class cards means playing 82 or so more, which feels like a lot.  I know, I just complained about having too many cards and having to do much to unlock more.

But it really is both.  When you start with a zillion cards to choose from opening a new pack of five cards isn't that exciting.  When you can only put two of a card in your deck and you start with two copies of everything, getting one of a new thing feels awkward.  The initial tutorial games weren't that fun because the enemies were using cheaty cards so it didn't feel like real games.

Well, I played again on Thursday and again tonight and I guess I like it, but it has all the frustrations of PvP games.  Opponents play desperately slow.  They make terrible plays, throwing cards away, and then you lose.  Even when you win someone still lost so sometimes it just feels like no one is winning.

HEX, on the other hand, just plain doesn't work.  Thanks for the invite.  To their credit, they did say the point of this round of invites was to stress test, so it makes sense that it lags out really badly.  But I don't think I'll go back to it until release or near release.  My interest in that is mostly to play PvE and that doesn't even really exist yet.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Oracle Review - Creature Types - Limited Edition

In addition to rewording card text, the Oracle is the official repository for creature types for the creatures of yore.  At some point Wizards had to make the difficulty decision of what to do with old, unsupported creature types.  First they decided every word was its own type, so they had to hyphenate old types like "Goblin King" into "Goblin-King."  But when they decided that creatures should generally have both a "race" type in addition to their "class" type, they had to address the issue that in older sets there were no "Humans" despite them being obviously full of humans.

Because of this, you can't use the creature type printed on the card from sets before Mirrodin.  That's a lot of Magic's history of creature types that was rewritten.  During this process some of it went well and some didn't go as well.  Today, let's look at the creature types from limited edition.

Artifact Creatures
Something I didn't mention above is that Mirrodin was also when they started putting creature types on artifact creatures.  All artifact creatures before then, with the exception of those that had special text on them giving them a type, were typeless.

Limited Edition had only four artifact creatures, plus an artifact that could turn into a creature.  Of these I thought the types were pretty obvious.  Obsianus Golem and Jade Statue are Golems, Living Wall is a Wall, Juggernaut is a Juggernaut.  These are straightforward, so I give them all two stars.

The only one that I don't like that much is Clockwork Beast.  While it makes sense that it got the creature type Beast, I feel like as a clockwork creature it need another creature type to distinguish it from flesh-and-blood beasts.  I would have made it a Beast Construct.  I think this oversight means only one star for the beast.

Adding Human
As noted above, there were no humans before Mirrodin, but a quick look at the art shows that a lot of things were human.  Generally, if something didn't specify what race it was, it was human.  So Royal Assassin went from an Assassin to a Human Assassin.  Other cards that got this same treatment were Samite Healer, Black Knight, White Knight and Prodigal Sorcerer.  This relatively simple change gets the two star treatment from me.

There were also cards that were made human and had other type changes as well.  Most of these I'll talk about in the next section about getting rid of unsupported types, but one I will talk about two here instead.  Ley Druid changed from being a Cleric to a Human Druid.  I don't have strong feelings about them doing this.  It is certainly easy to see why they did it.  The card says "Druid" and "Druid" is a supported creature type, so why not?  I don't note this to criticize or to praise it, just to observe that in the creature type remodelling, everything was up for grabs.  There was no effort to make only minimal changes or to preserve what was written on cards for the sake of maintaining their integrity.  If a new creature type made sense, that's the creature type you got.  Ley Druid, therefore, gets two stars like most of the new humans.

And then there is Veteran Bodyguard who was changed from a "Bodyguard" to a "Human."  That's all, he's just some guy, not any particular kind of guy.  You didn't get a knight, or a soldier, or a warrior to protect you.  Presumably you aren't even paying him since he isn't a mercenary.  Nope, he's just some guy.  He's just some one-star-rated-creature-type guy.

Sure, Why Not?
Ley Druid wasn't the only creature that got an unexpected new type for no apparent reason.  Personal Incarnation is now an "Avatar Incarnation," both maintaining its old type and getting a new one to match its name.  Nightmare is a Horse now in addition to being a Nightmare because, let's face it, it's a horse.  And Shanodin Dryad?  It was a "Nymph" rather than a Dryad originally.  Now it's a "Nymph Dryad."  I can't say I care for that - it seems like it should just be a plain old Dryad.  But I don't dislike it enough to rate it down.  Two stars for everyone with a new unwarranted type.

This is the part that really gets me.  There were a lot of creatures that used to just have a race that got a class as well, and a lot that didn't.  Dwarven Demolition Team is still just a Dwarf while Dwarven Warriors is a Dwarf Warrior.  Mons's Goblin Raiders are just Goblins while the Goblin Balloon Brigade is a Goblin Warrior.  The elves all got classes, though, the Llanowar Elves are druids and Elvish Archer is an archer.

Probably the weirdest of the bunch, though, are Wall of Bone - now a Skeleton Wall - and Wall of Brambles - now a Plant Wall.  Wall of Fire is not an Elemental Wall.  Giving some walls extra types and not others seems pretty ridiculous to me, especially when it comes to Wall of Wood which didn't join its thornier brother in becoming a plant.  I don't even really see how this could have happened - these cards must have been considered together.  For this rather egregious inconsistency, I'm forced to give all the walls no stars at all.  This is a situation that should be repaired.

Unsupported Types
Finally let's quickly go over all of those cards that had types no longer supported by the game.  Some of these were done quite well and others are duds.  Unlike above, I'm going to start from the bad and move ot the good.

I'm kind of disappointed that Roc of Kher Ridges lost the type "Roc" in favour of the type "Bird."  I get why this happened, but a Roc is a very iconic monster.  If Wolf is a type supported separately from Beast then I think we can have a special place in the world for Rocs.  Similarly, I would have held onto "Enchantress" for Verduran Enchantress.  I probably would have also made her an elf instead of a human.  Barring that, it seems like she should be a Wizard since she's all about casting enchantments.  I think "Human Druid" is a real miss here.

And Pirate Ship just feels totally wrong.  I get that they want to talk about the pirates and not the boat, but making it a human?  Wouldn't a crew of pirates be a place where miscreants of various races could all get together?  Would they turn away an orc who wants to sail the seas with them?  Ship, Roc and Enchantress all get one star from me, though I will admit that the roc suffers mostly from my personal bias.

On the more mediocre front, Gaea's Liege is an Avatar, Savannah Lions are a Cat, and Force of Nature is an Elemental.  War Mammoth is an Elephant, Goblin King is a Goblin, Keldon Warlord is a Human Barbarian, Northern Paladin is a Human Knight, and Benalish Hero is a Human Soldier.  Lord of Atlantis is a Merfolk, Clone and Vesuvan Doppelganger are both Shapeshifters, Nether Shadow and Will-o'-the-Wisp are both Spirits, and Scavenging Ghoul and Zombie Master are both Zombies.  This is all sensible, two-star stuff.

I have very mixed feelings about Phantom Monster and Phantasmal Forces becoming Illusions.  On on hand, this is the right place for them to be.  On the other hand, it is a shame.that the Phantasm type is not supported.  The three-star solution to this would be to make all Illusions into Phantasms instead of the other way around, but the way they've done it still merits two.

Creature type changes are not the stuff of wonder and it so it is no wonder that I've used almost entirely one and two star ratings.  There was one creature type, however, that really stood out.  Fungusaur was a Fungusaur, but they weren't going to support the creature type Fungusaur going forward.  So what is a fungusaur?  It's a Fungus Lizard, obviously.  What else could it be?  Fungusaur, your new creature type gets...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Some More Diablo 3

I started working on my hellfire ring in Diablo and it's pretty fun but it's kind of annoying.  I can pretty easily cut through monster power 5 aside from the occasional enemy that's a big that will just kill me over and over.  I've tried the special boss fights on power 5 and power 3 but I had no chance at all so I'll have to dial that back to 2 or 1 which means a lot more runs to get it done.  I don't know if I'll actually have the patience.

What I've also been reminded of is how great it is to be playing a game where split second decisions matter and the information is being served to me over the internet.  I can't tell you how pleasing it is to mash the Diamond Skin key and see the button depress on my screen but have the ability not activate while I try to run away and keep appearing back where I was.  That's fun gameplay, and necessary for the Diablo 3 experience.

On the other hand, when it is not being terrible, Diablo 3 actually has very good gameplay.  I find the enemy special abilities matter a lot more than in Torchlight or Path of Exile, and my positioning decisions mean a lot against random uniques.  On the other hand, good game play buys you a lot less against bosses and fast melee enemies who do a lot more unavoidable damage to you as a gear check, which I find very lame.

Anyway, Diablo 3 is still fun, but probably just in small doses and I doubt I'll play enough to actually get a ring.