Month: February 2019

Roy’s our boy

Roy’s our boy

So I don’t have much of a connection to Roy outside of Super Smash Bros.

Beyond mentioning that his cool Legendary alternate resembles his Smash counterpart, I didn’t have anything considerably flashy to lead this post off with.

That is, until I discovered this introduction page for the character featuring drawings from Princess Sharena.

I just had to share it. Because wow.

If that ain’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is.


RoyBlazing Lion

  • Dragonbind (Might = 16, Range = 1)
    • Effective against dragon foes. Unit can counterattack regardless of foe’s range.
  • Dragon Fang (Cooldown = 4)
    • Boosts damage by 50 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Bonus Doubler (A Skill)
    • Grants bonus to Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance during combat = current bonus on each of unit’s stats independently.
  • Renewal (B Skill)
    • At the start of every second turn, restored 10 Health.
  • Human Virtue (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, if unit is adjacent to any allies that are not beast or dragon allies, grants Attack and Speed +6 to unit and those allies for one turn.

Here I thought Legendary Marth was the dragon slayer!!

Joking aside, I would actually still consider Marth to be a better dragon slayer. His Exalted Falchion and Binding Shield seriously neuter manaketes.

Roy’s special Human Virtue skill is more focused on changing what team you utilize than it is killing.

However that doesn’t mean Roy’s new Dragonbind sword isn’t inherently broken. It’s a power-crept Falchion with distant counter built-in for Christ’s sake.

Dragons can’t attack from a distance, but the sword gives him duel functionality in killing dragons and countering mages/archers. A true double whammy.

That said… His sword is the one thing that truly sparkles about our boy Roy, in my opinion. The ability to give out doubled buffs to non-beasts is nice, but not particularly special in an era of growing beast representation.

Unfortunately, that ambivalence toward Roy extends to his entourage as well.

Also featured on this banner are:

The only units I’m missing here are Legendary Hríd, Halloween Niles and the three Adrift units.

While the first two are units I would like to have… I could care less about the two Corrin alts and Mikoto. So if Roy is one of three units on this whole banner I’m interested in summoning, it really does not seem like my kind of banner.

Though I suppose there is an extra allure to Roy’s potential for growth.

Apparently Intelligent Systems is planning on introducing a new mechanic for all upcoming Legendary Heroes in April that will “provide a play experience that is slightly different from what players are accustomed to.”

Whatever that means.

I can’t tell you whether or not it will be worth summoning Roy to get that vague future benefit, so it’s really up to you how much value is ascribed to intrigue about upcoming events.

For my money, I still won’t be trying to summon Roy too eagerly. I fruitlessly wasted a ton of orbs on the Fates beast banner.

Thus, for me, he will simply serve as a hilarious bit of ironic text in that Legendary Battle Map:

“Humans and dragons should coexist peacefully,” said the man with a dragon-killing sword and an ability that is neutered by teaming up with dragons.

Nice ludonarrative dissonance, Intelligent Systems.


Usually I aim to get these Fire Emblem Heroes posts published the day when banners are released.

However, Pokémon Sword and Shield sucked the oxygen out of the room yesterday and I had to live tweet our SPJ meeting last night.

Was pretty tired after a 6:00 a.m. to 12 a.m. kind of day.

So I figured I could hold off writing about the Legendary Banner until today, when I have nothing going on. It lasts about a week after all.

You know the deal by now. Let me know what you think of Mr. Dragon Slayer — Master of human/dragon unification. Or let me know who else you want to see in the future.

This ain’t Monster Hunter, this is Pokémon Sword and Shield!

This ain’t Monster Hunter, this is Pokémon Sword and Shield!

♪It’s the most wonderful time of the year~♪

There are few things which I will openly admit I have a massive bias toward.

Pokémon is something I unabashedly have a ginormous bias toward.

Pokémon Crystal was my first video game outside of some silly educational titles featuring Sesame Street or Elmo. I’ll always fall back on the story that it helped me learn how to read when I played with my Mom all those years ago because that memory is precious to me.

So whenever a brand new entry in the Pokémon series is announced, I truly feel young at heart.

It happened with Sun and Moon.

It happened with Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee.

And by god it’s happening right now with the announcement of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield for the Nintendo Switch.

I know some of you must be wondering I got up at 6:00 a.m. just to watch a video game get announced. Especially when real life political things are happening.

Let’s just say I had to get up extra early for some meetings and intentionally overdid it to watch the Pokémon Direct live.

Though the announcement was seven minutes long, it offered a lot of hype.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are new mainline games set in the Galar region. Kanto through Sinnoh were analogous to different parts of Japan, Unova was analogous to New York, Kalos was analogous to France and Alola was analogous to Hawaii.

Galar will take us into a world modeled after post-Industrial England:

Everything about the theme feels right. Sword & Shield as names evoke the Knights of the Round Table knowing this region is London.

Towns look stuffed with industrial imagery of steaming cogs and stone chimneys set under foggy weather.

The new gyms, or at least the grass-type gym, looks like a Soccer/Football stadium.

Oh, and let’s not forget it all looks fucking gorgeous.

I was a huge fan of the Let’s Go graphics because they were faithful to the original Red/Green/Blue/Yellow while updated for the Switch’s capabilities.

But just off of initial screenshots alone, Sword and Shield look like Pokémon games set in Breath of the Wild Hyrule.

That game’s minimalist style had an almost watercolor quality that screams out with the creative possibilities of a Pokémon region.

Just look at the battle screenshot. Its models may look similar to previous generation’s Pokémon, perhaps to save time, but having that countryside villa in the background is stunning.

It looks a lot better in the original video than it does on Twitter screenshots.

The trainer models also look better than ever, featuring more realistic humans akin to the mobile app GO, but with far more personality than even Sun and Moon achieved.

Hopefully this time the protagonists will make more than one facial expression, too.

But of course, we can’t talk about new Pokémon without delving into the starters:

Images courtesy of Serebii

Good old Serebii.

Based on first impressions alone, all three of these starters are way too cute for their own good.

Unlike the Alolan starters where I immediately had a favorite (#TeamRowlet), I don’t know that I have one among these three.

The last time we saw a simian starter in Chimchar I wound up being a huge fan of Infernape. So the Grass-type Grookey has a shot.

Bunnies are also a favorite of mine in Pokémon, with Mega Lopunny being the first IV/EV trained ‘mon I ever bred in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. So the Fire-type Scorbunny has a shot.

But the Water-type Sobble is a wild card. It looks like Mudkip and uses a camouflaging  gecko design reminiscent of Kecleon.

Any reference to Hoenn is appreciated, and that’s two in one!

I’ll honestly have to see their evolutions to decide who I want to stick by.

While these are the only Galar Pokémon we’ve seen thus far, I’m sure Game Freak will introduce us to the rest before the end of the year. Even if I do wish they would keep some more secrets this time.

In the meantime, we know the Galar region will represent a wide-range of Pokémon from other regions.

In this trailer alone we can see a Zweilous, Flygon, Wishiwashi, Hoothoot, Munchlax, Tyranitar and so much more.

It feels like watching the latest Detective Pikachu trailer all over again. 2019 is shaping up to be a fatastic year for Pokémon.

That’s just about all we know so far.

Obviously I’m very excited to learn more, and there’s no doubt the next few months will be full of Sword and Shield information posts like I had for Sun and Moon!

These long periods of hype building up to the catharsis of a wonderful game have to be one of my favorite things about the Pokémon franchise nowadays. I live for the endorphines of new reveal trailers.

But what do you think about our first look at Sword and Shield, the Galar region and those new starters?

Let me know! I’m all kinds of ready for more and more Pokémon.


Featured Image courtesy of the official Pokémon Twitter account

Schrödinger’s @

Schrödinger’s @

This little premise is probably something that could be served better as a brief question on Twitter, but I figured I would pose a more elaborate version on the off-chance I get interesting responses beyond the shelf life of a tweet.

It’s undeniable that the language of social media has injected itself into our common vernacular, to the point that I can say something like “the shelf life of a tweet” without turning any heads — Just imaging saying that to someone from the 1800s!

However, I’m not particularly concerned about social media terms in real life, general use.

My inquiry is aimed toward how people use an at sign (@) or hashtags (#) ((or the pound sign, though that’s not how I’ll be using it)) in the world of Twitter reading.

That probably sounds like dumb technobabble, so let me explain further.

Obviously the at sign and hashtags serve functional purposes in the world of Twitter. The prior acts as a mention to draw attention to individuals, while the latter compiles specific topics for analytics on what might be popular.

They are essential elements one must know when using the service to get the most out of it.

With brief research I found this hilariously academic and sterile handbook “tips” page for utilizing these two elements of Twitter. It reminded me that some people are not hooked into this stupid website yet and might not understand its digital language.

Outside of their mechanical functionality, both symbols have audible names so they can be discussed in the abstract. Even if I sometimes just mime mid-air finger drawings that vaguely resembles the “@” symbol during real life interactions.

Other symbols in our language have similar mechanical functionality while also being named for discussion.

The last sentenced ended with a period, which either sits silently due to our shared understanding of what it represents (an end point) or can be audibly referred to for emphasis.

Period. End of story.

Yet the period has existed for hundreds of years, affording it a place in the general lexicon that is taught in every high school English class. We all, I assume, have the same understanding of the period’s uses in the manner I have described.

I’m just not sure whether or not the same thing exists for modern pseudo-punctuation.

It does seem common enough for people to say the word “hashtag” before mentioning the word that follows.

But is it the same for the at sign?

There is a concept called the “Inner Reading Voice” that I guarantee you’re all familiar with. While you read this blog post to yourself, you’re likely reading it — as if out loud — in your own head.

For those of you who frequent Twitter as often as I do, I have to ask: How does your Inner Reading Voice handle an at sign in mentions?

I’ve always found that I struggle with two different approaches, and I’d like to know whether I’m crazy.

Do you…

  • Completely ignore the symbol’s existence and continue the sentence as normal?

Or-

  • Actually read the at sign out loud as if it is an extra word in the sentence?

This distinction seems small, but I would wager it makes a big difference grammatically.

For instance, this is the Tweet I wrote to promote my recent Umbrella Academy review.

Did you read this:

  • “… I just couldn’t get Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”

Or-

  • “… I just couldn’t get at Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”

For this sentence I wager it would not make sense to include the ‘at’ verbally.

However, let’s say I wrote half a dozen tweets asking Netflix to start streaming Umbrella Academy season 2 already. I get tired of throwing all my complaints at the service and express it in a further tweet.

How would you write that?

  • “I’m tired of throwing all these tweets at @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”

Or-

  • “I’m tired of throwing all these tweets @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”

Either could potentially work. Either you read the “@” as an extra word or ignore the “@” as a purely mechanical necessity when mentioning Netflix.

As someone who tries to sounding grammatically correct in my open publications, I suppose the usage I would consider correct depends on context.

If there would be an ‘at’ naturally before the at sign, I might be inclined to leave it out at risk of sounding repetitive.

However, if no at would naturally preceed the symbol, I would just ignore that at sign.

Thus my question remains: How do you handle the @ when you’re reading through Twitter? Are you like me, depending on context? Or do you adamantly always/never read the symbol out loud?

Science demands your compliance in this unofficial study.


Featured Image courtesy of Post of Moldova via Wikimedia Commons

Celebrating life

Celebrating life

Earlier today, my Cousin Erica said it was fitting that we held my Grandma’s celebration of life on the same day as the Oscars, because she loved that award show quite a bit.

To be fair the Oscars are only coincidentally happening on the same day. We held our gathering today because her birthday would be tomorrow if she was still with us.

I just couldn’t think of a better way to briefly express my appreciation for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse winning Best Animated at the awards. Since that’s really all I cared about from the Academy tonight.

Plus we saw the movie with my Grandpa not too long ago. That works as a transition, right?

Family, including my great-cousins out from New Jersey, as well as friends on both my Dad and Aunt Mindy’s Rolodex came out of the woodwork to help us celebrate.

My Aunt’s house was absolutely packed with people:

IMG_2140

Especially messy considering there were four dogs running around the house as well.

But all things being equal, it was a lot less of a mess than many of us had been expecting. Spending upwards of five hours this afternoon with such a packed house could have been an issue, but it wound up being a really chill, sweet time.

It probably helped that we had a ton of food lying around.

IMG_2141

If we Jews know how to do anything, it’s how to lay out a hell of a spread for a celebration. Plus a lot of our extended guests were happy to bring extra food in consolation.

While the food, the schmoozing among friends and my cousin’s heartfelt tribute were all wonderful parts of the event, probably my favorite part was getting to go through a lot of really old family photos and documents with my family around.

I threw a couple of them up on my social media in tribute:

But our collection went all over the place. From mid-1900s pictures with my close family to much more ancient stuff from the 1800s, before parts of that side moved to America during the turmoil of WWII in Eastern Europe.

Another one of my favorites was this piece, my Grandparent’s marriage certificate.

IMG_2147

Yet, it would be remiss of me not to spend at least a little bit of time talking about the doggos. I’m fairly convinced she liked those cuties a bit more than the rest of us by the end, anyway.

Which frankly is only half a joke. She loved these pups.

So here I am, becoming the king of the mutts:

That cute guy on the left is Rocky, who was my Grandma and Grandpa’s dog before they couldn’t really take care of him anymore. Though I do much prefer my photo with Rambo on the right.

Such a fluffy boi.

… Oh, and yes they are both named after Sylvester Stallone characters. Can’t tell you if that was intentional or not.

Though I can tell you that my doggo magnetism must run in the family, as I also got to see the original king of the dogs at work:

Look how happy he is. Gotta love it.

I’ve been a little silent about my Grandma lately, as we’re all just kind of chugging along trying to get used to that feeling in the back of our hearts. But realistically, that feeling might never go away.

It just so happens that days like today are really helpful to move forward with a smile and remember the good.

If you haven’t, hug your family everyone. You never know how many more chances you’ll have.

The Umbrella Academy precipitates to the top

The Umbrella Academy precipitates to the top

I don’t talk about seasons of television very often when reviewing things. More self-contained projects like movies tend to be easier to watch and digest, in my experience.

But it has been a while since I’ve seen a binge-watchable show that hit me quite as hard as The Umbrella Academy.

So much so that I forewent writing anything last night to finishing the series. Then felt enough of a high that I went out of my way to Tweet Netflix directly after midnight:

Still haven’t gotten a reply, but hopeful nonetheless.

I can’t promise this will be an entirely spoiler-free review. I won’t give away grandiose plot details, but character arcs or smaller cliffhangers from individual episodes might slip through. I don’t have a lot of experience writing about binge-worthy television yet, so not sure if that’s standard procedure.

If you just want the brief review I gave to my old advisor Mitch Ziegler today after judging a write-off competition: Go watch the show.

It’s a quirky, interesting take on the superhero genre from Dark Horse Comics, which has a style more reminiscent of The Addams Family than Iron Man.

I was clambering for more as soon as it ended, which is about as big a compliment to the ten-episode Netflix original I can offer.

More spoiler-y, deeper thoughts ahead.

When you succeed in making Ellen Page the relatively “normal” girl in your ensemble, you know you’ve succeeded in creating a fascinatingly strange world.

The show (and comic, though there are some plot differences) creates a world where 43 children were miraculously conceived and birthed one day in 1989. Seven of whom were adopted by a man who combines superhero family patriarch of Professor Xavier from the X-Men and strange eccentricities of Count Olaf from the A Series of Unfortunate Events books.

It’s never really elaborated on whether the other 36 children have superpowers, but they really don’t matter.

The Umbrella Academy quickly veers away from the cliché serialized superhero gathering the premise almost preassumes to focus on those seven children once they’ve grown up. All in some way broken by their odd abilities and idiosyncrasies wrought by a calloused, distant father.

Every character becomes a great case study on their own, while also bouncing off one another well.

Except perhaps for Ben (Justin Min), who died prior to the series and comes into play as a foil for Klaus (Robert Sheehan), whose powers allow him to see and speak to the dead.

Klaus’ character is actually a fantastic generalization for the series.

During the first episode, I found him repugnant. To stave off the screams of the dead he’s haunted by, Klaus has become a near-useless junkie. Most of that episode features him bumming around the Academy half-naked, stealing their now-deceased father’s antiques to sell for drugs.

It’s an archetype which is played up to the point of nausea. A lot of the first episode is somewhat nauseating, with seven stereotypically quirky characters (the shamed Hollywood actress, the stoic leader, the hardened Nightwing-esque vigilante, etc.) being introduced alongside a whole host of plot points.

But as the show gets past that first bout of exposition, all the characters warm up.

Klaus, for instance, has a phenomenal scene with his brother Five (just “Number Five.” I promise it isn’t that weird) trying to get information out of a prosthetics lab. It plays the extreme bluntness of someone numb to the world in a very funny way.

Then Klaus goes through a harrowing experience which leads to him sobering up, and in the process he became my favorite character.

Or he would have, if Aidan Gallagher didn’t absolutely blow everyone else out of the water as Number Five.

Five can teleport to different points in space, and eventually learns how to teleport through time as well. In the process, he gets himself stuck in a desolate future.

When he returns to the past, the time travel reverts him back into a 13-year-old boy, just with all the experiences of a near 60-year-old man.

Gallagher brings a fantastic dry wit to the character, and his 50+ years of combat experience combined with teleportation makes every action scene with Five a visual marvel.

For someone who has only had roles on Nickelodeon sitcoms before, I was shocked by how hard he hit the ground running. Even while talking to a mannequin.

All of that said and I still haven’t touched on four of the siblings — one of which is portrayed by Ellen Page, who deservedly gets the lead credit as a straight man character who glues her wacky family together and has one of the better overall arcs.

Then there are the villains, Hazel and Cha-Cha (Cameron Britton and Mary Blige), who are at once intimidating antagonists and compelling, sympathetic characters.

While I adored The Umbrella Academy‘s characters, the show had a lot more to offer.

It’s an incredibly dark, surreal take on a superhero story. Think of the semi-dysfunctional but ultimately loving family dynamic of The Incredibles set in a My Chemical Romance music video — a sensible comparison.

The killer soundtrack is well-utilized, with songs ranging from Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” to They Might Be Giants’ “Istanbul,” alongside The Sex Pistols, Radiohead and more. Plus some solid standalone tracks.

A lot of the visual effects also stand up quite well in a world glut with high-budget superhero stories. Most everything in the set design feels practical, and the display of powers — teleportation, conjuring ghosts, etc. — occurs infrequently enough to feel rich and well-produced.

Only in the last episode is there a traditionally high-octane effects show that is over-the-top, but fittingly so with how much it was built up.

Honestly, I’m not sure what else I could say about this show without my little review devolving into relentless gushing. If I had one substantial complaint, I would have liked to see more of the children flashback scenes. The older character studies are great, but a series featuring the cocky kids stopping crimes would be really fun.

Despite that, The Umbrella Academy is a very solidly acted, well-produced series with enough of a dark, cynical sensability to keep even the most exhausted of superhero media fans engaged.

I’ll just be here waiting for season 2 to come out. If you’ve heeded my advice, hopefully you’ll be right there too.


Featured Image courtesy of IMDb.

The magic of maps

The magic of maps

A good, old-fashioned map can add a whole lot of character to a place.

Sure, the colorful country-accurate map of the Earth on a globe is an impressive sight especially fully animated online:

But that view of the planet is a bit too modernist and clinical for my tastes.

I’m more of a fan of classic, stylized pieces such as the 1643 depiction of Europe by Dutch mapmaker Cornelis Danckaerts that I used for my Featured Image. It’s just the sort of rugged, swarthy style you’d expect to see in some kind of fantasy novel.

Replace that boat off the port of Spain with some kind of serpentine sea creature and it may as well be the map of a fantasy world. Like something you’d expect to see from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Speaking of, did you know that there’s an interactive Middle-Earth map available online? It is full of complex names and points of time for different important events.

That’s the kind of stuff I love.

As I’ve made more progress in my Senior Honors Project novel, I’ve found it necessary to start keeping track of all the locations I’m name dropping to give the world a little more history and life.

To remember places I might want to bring up later and also lay everything out on a more cohesive latitude and longitude for when I explain travel across the content — as my book will include plenty of travel.

During class yesterday, I started to draw out a rudimentary sketch of my world map on a sheet of paper:

IMG_2123
Results not final.

I used to draw things like this all the time, inspired by the maps I’ve seen in the front of books like Lord of the Rings and Eragon.

But never before have I put one together that might actually be useful.

So it was serendipity that, while sitting in my Honors 400B class last night, my friend Mimi noticed my drawing and offered to point out some free campaign map making software she knew about for Dungeons and Dragons.

How was I supposed to say no to that?

Of the software I got pointed to, my favorite was a website called HexTML, which as the name implies lets you create a world of your own using hexagonal signifiers like the board game Settlers of Catan.

Many hours were spent last night screwing around to translate that hand-drawn map into something that could reasonably be shown off to the world.

It’s still open to adjustments down the line and I’d like to put names on all of the areas and towns through the site, but for now I’m really proud of where I’d gotten:

Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 9.36.45 PM
The left side.

While the continent proper does not yet have a name, but a lot of the structures within it do.

The town on the lower left is Fehrn, where my main characters live.

The singular structures around Fehrn are ruins of the old western empire that have been used as treasure hunting locales. To the north, that black cavern, is an underground chamber where my story begins — just below the Redbark Woods.

To the lower right is the Gnarled Forest, a large mesh of roots, branches and bark that was nigh impenetrable for eons. The old elven tribe was able to thrive there before being attacked.

Just above that in the mountain range hides a small structure signifying the capital of the Sparrine Empire. The Sparrine being the bird people who are basically France, taking over the region under bird Napoleon. Talked about that recently.

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The right side.

Moving onto the other side of the map, a few new main areas stand out.

Hidden in another mountain to the right of the Sparrine empire is the Prophet’s Sanctuary, where my main characters must travel.

Below it is a yet unnamed lake with an equally unnamed port town to its right side where the player character of my story’s game world will have to take on bird Napoleon in a thinly veiled allegory to the Battle of Waterloo.

Spoilers, I guess. If you know historical stuff.

The walled city to the right of that lake is the capital of the Bresegon Empire, where the lordly prince character hails from. Just above it is the ruins of an older nation’s capital.

Essentially the ruins of Rome beside the now prospering Byzantine Empire.

All of those ruins to the leftmost side of the region being the desolate remains of the Holy Roman Empire’s holdings.

Those are some of my world’s major locations, as far as I’ve planned things out up to this point. With all of the plot beats generally worked out for my story, I’m especially excited to start using a bunch of them now that I have a spatial awareness of how everything fits together.

Hope you’re interested in seeing some more cool little behind-the-scenes details on my writing like this from here on out.

Now that I’m getting into the book, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to share.


Featured Image courtesy of Cornelis Danckerts via Wikimedia Commons

Furries? In my Fire Emblem? It’s more likely than you’d think.

Furries? In my Fire Emblem? It’s more likely than you’d think.

After we got our first round of beast units in Fire Emblem Heroes, some Intelligent Systems employee decided to head off everyone’s cravings by adding all of the Fates beast units in one fell swoop.

To be fair, I’m absolutely one of those people who has been waiting for the Kitsune and Wolfskin to be added into Heroes.

So good on you, corporate office guy. Hope you got a raise.


KeatonLupine Collector

  • Wolfskin Fang (Might = 9, Range = 1)
    • Inflicts Speed -5. Unit attacks twice (even if foe initiates combat). Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2 and deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Draconic Aura (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 30 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Special Spiral (B Skill)
    • If Special Attack triggers before or during combat, grants Special Attack cooldown -2 after combat.
  • Beast Valor (C Skill)
    • While unit lives, all beast allies on team get 2x Skill Points (only highest value applies, does not stack.

VelouriaWolf Cub

  • Wolfpup Fang (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Speed +3. At the start of turn one, grants Special Attack cooldown -2 to unit and unit’s support partner. Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2 and deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Luna (Cooldown = 3)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent during combat.
  • Close Defense (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat and uses a physical weapon, dragonstone or beast damage, grants Defense and Resistance +6 during combat.
  • Ward Beasts (C Skill)
    • Grants Defense and Resistance +4 to beast allies within two spaces during combat.

KadenKitsune Braggart

  • Kitsune Fang (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Defense +3. Grants allies within two spaces bonus to Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance during combat = current bonus on each individual unit’s stats. Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2, and if unit initiates combat inflict Attack and Defense -4 on foe during combat, foe cannot make a follow-up attack.
  • Pivot (Range = 1)
    • Unit moves to opposite side of target ally.
  • Speed/Resistance Link (B Skill)
    • If a movement Assist skill is used by or targets unit, grants Speed and Resistance +6 to unit and target ally for one turn.
  • Goad Beasts (C Skill)
    • Grants Attack and Speed +4 to beast allies within two spaces during combat.

SelkieFree Spirit

  • Foxkit Fang (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Resistance+3. If unit’s Resistance > foe’s Resistance, and if foe uses a physical weapon, dragonstone or beast damage, grants bonus to Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance = 50 percent of the difference between stats (max bonus of 8 to each). Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2, and if unit initiates combat inflict Attack and Defense -4 on foe during combat, foe cannot make a follow-up attack.
  • Iceberg (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 50 percent of unit’s Resistance.
  • Attack/Speed Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Speed +5 during combat.
  • Sabotage Attack (B Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, if any foe’s Resistance ≤ unit’s Resistance -3 and that foe is adjacent to another, inflicts Attack -7 on that foe through its next action.
  • Even Resistance Wave (C Skill)
    • At the start of even-numbered turns, grants Resistance +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus applied even if no allies are adjacent).

Jesus Christ, all of these attack descriptions literally got longer the further I went.

When I cut out a sizable portion of the base text and still hit a six-line paragraph, we might be going overboard IS.

Though I suppose I can’t complain about lengthy text that make powerful units I want to use. Especially Keaton with his double strike and buffed Special Attacks, and Selkie with her mixed physical and magic defenses.

The Kitsune being ‘cavaliers’ so they are weak to beast slaying weapons is also a nice reference to Fates.

Plus, I’m just all about this banner aesthetically.

Kaden is one of my favorite Fates units if for no other reason than him making Azura a likable character in their support conversations.

Hot take I know, but I’m just not a fan of Azura’s character when she isn’t married to Kaden and snuggling with that fluffy tail. Even if she is a good unit in Heroes.

Selkie is my second favorite choice since she combines that fox spirit aesthetic with the cute anime girl look, followed by Velouria for her Red Riding Hood schtick.

But I still won’t forgive Intelligent Systems from making me write so god damn much.

… Well, maybe I’ll forgive them if I get lucky and snag some of these beasts easily. Due to self-control and abstinence after my luck on the Valentine’s Day banner, I have 230 orbs stored up.

Hopefully I can keep the stash above 200 with a little help from the Forging Bonds free summon tickets.

Even if I should have no orbs according to that storyline:

 

But don’t lose hope Summoners, IS did not take away our orbs. But if they did to remove ludonarrative dissonance, we would be in good hands.

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Plus we would find some replacement orbs from the new Book III story chapter!


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Speaking of ludonarrative dissonance, looking at this chapter next to the Forging Bonds story is a straight narrative dissonance.

While Alfonse is finding who stole the orb stash like some kind of medieval Donkey Kong, we cut into discussions of how the army could stop Alfonse from succumbing to Hel’s curse.

The sibling’s parents arrive upon hearing the news, and King Gustav chides his son for not staying away from Hel on the battlefield.

Alfonse accepts the blame, then Gustav straight up tells everyone to forget they have a son because death is inescapable.

 

Pretty tough.

At least Alfonse finds some determination in searching for Hel through battles across Askr during his last nine days of life.

 

Most of the battles just briefly introduce the Fates beasts, as well as Panne the Taguel from Fire Emblem Awakening.

Don’t really know why they didn’t save her to release alongside her son Yarne.

At one point Alfonse’s father tries to see if he remembers a tattered stick which I’m assuming was some kind of old play sword. When he doesn’t, Gustav shrugs it off.

However, Alfonse’s final day of life arrives and a bit more sympathy seems to shine through:

 

Just why he wants Alfonse to stay close will become clear after the final battle with Líf, Kaden, Keaton and Panne.

Hel arrives and the Order tries to fight her off desperately, but they find that she is literally like a Spectre who cannot be physically damaged.

For plot convenience’s sake.

 

She raises her scythe to take Alfonse, resigned to his fate, until…

Surprise surprise. Gustav arrive and jumps in front of the attack.

 

It’s a pretty convenient bait-and-switch for a character who was just introduced at the beginning of this Book’s story, but it’s set up enough to work decently well.

I wouldn’t say I was shocked by the twist, but I am looking forward to seeing the Order forced to fight against the former King zombie.

In his last few moments, Hel is astounded by Gustav’s determination to throw his life away for his much younger son and kingdom.

 

As he succumbs to repeated slashes, Gustav asks his son to become a strong king in his stead. The screen cuts to red and the chapter ends.

Here’s your orb reward for killing Alfonse’s dad.

Congratulations!


Out of sheer curiosity, I checked and found that 448 of the (current) 1248 words in this post are dedicated to copying the attack descriptions for each unit. Just had to know with how god damn big those weapon texts are.

The fact they took up a basic news article’s worth of space is kind of astounding, and it’s the reason I don’t pay as much attention to word count with these.

Basically this post is ~800 words with an add-on. That way I feel less guilty.

But hey, personal hang-ups aside, let me know what you think about our new beast units in the comments down below!

With a few more Fates units under our belt, I’m hoping we can get back to Sacred Stones soon… Especially considering I may or may not be writing about it for my Gaming in American Culture class.

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

Remember yesterday when I was gung-ho about going to the DMV if for no other reason than to have something interesting for my blog?

Funny how naive I was in thinking that the DMV could offer any sort of interest.

To be fair, it’s not like I had a particularly negative experience there today — unless you count PTSD flashbacks to failed driving tests or the generally oppressive air of bureaucracy washing over hordes of upset numbers in the government’s labyrinthine system of rules and policy.

If anything, renewing my license was a quick and painless experience. The kind of trip through the DMV that left me saying-

-after I left, but would not have been my “fun activity” of choice over going to the class I missed.

Thus that did not blossom into a subject to fill my entire post. Nor did the lovely lunch I had with Mom afterwards, as much as I enjoyed it.

When I decided to scrap the idea, I half-considered writing about my unusual blog traffic today. Analytics are usually a fun subject for me, and for whatever reason a bunch of people looked at my blog today before I even wrote anything:

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The last big spike was my birthday.

However I don’t exactly have a reasonable way to explain why I got more traffic today than I have in recent days, so it would just be mindless babble.

… As though the rest of this wasn’t already mindless babble. I know, I can hear you all saying that to your screens amid a slow eye-roll.

I’ll get to the point.

I went in to CSUF for my late class, Comm Law. So far my favorite course of the semester because of the professor.

An example as to why: She overlaid a well-edited video of John Oliver’s Supreme Court dogs over the audio of a case we were covering in our homework.

Today’s conversation broached into SCOTUS decisions which have affected obscenity and porn laws. It was a conversation full of amazing conversations and references one would not expect to hear in a classroom.

One such conversation involving that innocuous fair use butterfly photo I used for my Featured Image.

I kid you not… It ties back to Pornhub.

I know, I know. When I made a half-hearted post joking about that Pornhub ad carved into a bathroom stall in the Education Building, I said I was at risk of becoming a shill for the pornography aggregate.

After the glowingly positive piece I wrote about their analytics a while back, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking my semi-rapid increase in smut-related posts was a problem.

However, the way I see it I’ve just found myself increasingly interested in Pornhub-related subjects specifically. As niche a wheelhouse as that may be.

While talking about porn in class, I specifically brought up the yearly Pornhub analytics in reference to her joking about the existance of fetish websites for everything. In response, she told us about a podcast which dives deep into the way Pornhub has changed our society — for better and worse.

As someone who drives long distances back-and-forth, I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts.

So even though she warned us that it gets depressing after a certain point, I was curious and downloaded all seven episodes of the series.

It’s called “The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson,” and I’ll recommend it at least based on the first episode.

That episode features interviews with the Belgian boy who brought the website into popular consciousness, as well as the technical guy from Canada who worked on things like search engine optimization and mobile user logistics.

With promise of going into all the nitty-gritty, uncomfortable stories about society changing, the challenges to that industry with a massive and free entity in their midst, and so forth.

If you’ve got the time for it, why not take a chance and listen through some niche podcast programming with me?

I, for one, am clearly excited enough about it to share if nothing else.


Featured Image courtesy of Charles J Sharp via Wikimedia Commons

Stranded in Suburbia

Stranded in Suburbia

I’m in a bit of an odd predicament.

In my 22nd birthday blog post, I based the whole thing on the fact that there isn’t a lot of external fanfare surrounding 22 compared to 21.

But there is one specific thing that happened when I turned 22, which I sort of alluded to yesterday.

I was able to get a new driver’s license when I turned 21, one that would be horizontal instead of vertical to assure certain establishments that I am of age for things like drinking. But I didn’t have to get my new license because the old one wasn’t expired.

I can no longer say that because the expiration date came yesterday:

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Be glad I’m not showing you the full picture… It’s bad.

For the first time in close to four years, I am no longer legally able to drive myself.

Now I know some of you are probably saying that it shouldn’t matter, because what are the odds of getting pulled over?

Well… Sure. I could still drive around if I wanted, because it’s not like the license is inherently visible unless asked for specifically. I could still do things like hit the gym if I wanted, as I had planned on today to start working off that birthday cake.

After all, I hit 200 lbs on the scale as of my visit to the hematologist last week, and I don’t want to lose too much progress on my journey to become healthier.

But that being said, I live by the same anxieties as my Mom when it comes to these things. Twelve other people could be driving around with expired licenses around me, but with my luck I would be the one who gets caught and pays the price.

So I won’t be driving around on my own today. Just on the off-chance anything happens.

I could still get driven around by my parents, and Mom has gone to the gym with me in the past. It’s not like I’m totally stuck.

… Except for the fact that I stayed home this morning while the rest of the family went out to do chores. Because for some reason I decided doing homework was more important.

And you know, by ‘for some reason’ I mean because I have assignment deadlines.

Deadlines I could be working on instead of this blog post if I didn’t enjoy living on the edge.

Thus, as the title implies, I’m stuck at home doing work today. I even took that artsy Featured Image through the screen door just to imply bars.

Kinda proud of it, honestly.

On the bright side, my pseudo-house arrest shouldn’t last long. I have an appointment at the DMV tomorrow that I’m… Completely looking forward to…

But you know what, if I have to miss my morning class and suffer through government bureaucracy in order to get my driver’s license back, I suppose it will all be worth it in the end.

Who knows, the experience might even give me something interesting to talk about around here.

Guess we’ll just have to see.

A symmetrical birthday

A symmetrical birthday

Another year, another trip around the sun.

Turning 22 doesn’t offer nearly as many significant things to talk about as the ‘milestone’ 21, where drinking and properly oriented drivers’ licenses were officially on the table.

I won’t be starting this post off with a deep, important-sounding remark on the different milestones one hits in life.

Rather, 22 mainly stands out because… It’s symmetrical? I guess?

To be fair, 22 does have some things going for it. Most notably the fact that I’ll be graduating from college during that year. Yikes.

All of that is pretty forward thinking, though. Today there aren’t a whole lot of exciting things going on, as I’ll be saving the friend gatherings for later in the year when more people are back in town.

What I have gotten is a lovely breakfast made by my younger sister:

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Homemade waffles with fruit compote and whipped cream? I’ve been spoiled.

And a couple of birthday gifts from the family that I definitely did not know about from being in the store with them.

That would be ridiculous! I was honestly, truly surprised.

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Look at this adorable surprise!

Aly must know me real well if she thought to get me a Mimikyu-related gift again, totally without my input.

As much as it messes with my head that Sun and Moon came out almost three years ago, my love for this Pikachu lookalike remains strong. Even if I had to pull a Scizor out to take advantage of her weakness.

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Get it?

While Mimikyu and that new Switch controller are the main physical gifts I’ve gotten thus far, I have been eagerly watching all of the digital presents from various organizations roll in.

Like this cute little email from Nintendo helping me celebrate with all those Marro brahs:

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C’mon Bowser don’t be like that. Have some cake with your son.

Unfortunately platinum coins mean basically nothing next to gold coins, which would allow me to buy new video games.

Just give me more gold coins, Nintendo. I promise I’ll keep shilling for you if I can buy more games.

Until you do, I’ll just go back to Planet Fitness for my free water bottle.

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Not a joke.

I think it’s hilarious that my gym wants me to go spend my birthday working out as I’m sitting around eating ice cream cake, but to be fair I am planning on going tomorrow.

So I might actually use a free water bottle, as silly as that is.

At the very least water seems reasonable as an immediate necessity to keep my body working, which gives it an edge over this offer from Facebook:

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I get the sentiment here, getting members to create fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. It’s a nice goal in-and-of itself.

But one dollar? Seriously, Mark?

Pretty sure you could stand to offer a bit more of a generous care package all things considered. I know you have a bajillion users and that money stacks up in the long-run, but even something like $5 would look less silly as a ‘present.’

Alright, I’ll stop fruitlessly complaining at social media companies. I just honestly don’t have all that much more to say. After breakfast we went out for a bit to visit my Grandpa and buy special pasta ingredients for dinner.

We were greeted by a little bit of rain while out shopping, keeping up the tradition of water falling on my birthday.

Though it wasn’t near as bad as my 20th when I brought attention to the issue on the blog.

So that’s not an exciting direction to head down. Nor is all the homework that I’ll unfortunately be stuck doing tonight due to deadlines that leave no room for extensive birthday fun.

I think I’ll just wrap things up here, then. Get back to relaxing, spending some time with family and… Yeah, homework.

Just one more semester and I’ll never have to deal with that again.

As usual, thank you all for the support here on the blog and in my real life endeavors. Particularly to my old colleague/friend Ashlyn Ramirez who gave me shout outs on all the social media platforms unexpectedly.

That girl works hard, she deserves a little extra support!

But for all the rest of you as well, hope you’ll stick around for however many birthdays are still to come.