Category: Video Games

A Shining Blast from the Past

A Shining Blast from the Past

With the latest Tag Duel Tournament ending in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links soon, I wanted to take the chance to talk about something regarding the event I’ve been interested in since it started.

It has nothing to do with the event itself, as I quite like how Tag Duels work in balancing two duelists fighting on the same team.

No, what I’m interested in is the new reward cards that came from the event. Namely, this one:

Say hello to Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman.

This pretty cool looking card right here, for all intents and purposes, is kind of useless when you give it a critical eye. It’s attack and defense stats are okay, but underscored by the fact that it’s a fusion monster that requires a second fusion monster just to summon it.

That’s a fairly difficult summoning condition for the uninitiated, as it means you need three different monster cards and two copies of polymerization just to get him out. His inherent abilities do help him stand out, as he gains at least 1200 attack instantly from all of the HERO monsters in the graveyard just required to summon, then everything he beats over inflicts damage once sent to the grave…

But still. The summon is a tough sell when he has no real protection from any kind of destructive spells or traps.

I’m not here to discuss the merits of this card as a viable battle strategy, however. Even if seeing him added into Duel Links has inspired me to try building a deck around him.

I’m here to discuss the reason why seeing Shining Flare Wingman brought a huge wave of happiness and nostalgia running through my system. Check this out:

Welcome to 2006, where a young nine-year-old Jason vaguely interested in Yu-Gi-Oh! card collecting decided to buy this magazine because the monster on the front looked so god damn cool.

I mean that too, I don’t think I ever seriously read through this thing. I just loved looking at the cool monster pictures on it and inside of it.

To this day, the Shining Flare Wingman edition of Beckett’s Yu-Gi-Oh! magazine is still the only one I own, and seeing his arrival in Duel Links brought the memories of it flooding back. Luckily it just took a quick dig through my 2006-ish era comic books to find the thing.

But those are a story for another day.

Now that I’m older and actually interested in the world of media, I actually perused the magazine with a more analytical eye.

As it turns out, Beckett is an online marketplace for card games and their accessories. Primarily sports cards, but also other trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh!

That’s probably not a surprise to many of you, but I seriously never bothered to look it up before now. I just always thought of this magazine as “The Yu-Gi-Oh! monster thing.”

At its core, the magazine as a whole is just a conduit to show off what cards are available for what prices online.

In 2006 anyway.

Obviously that’s not all that useful for me anymore. So instead, the really fascinating thing about this magazine is what they fill the rest of this thing with.

It’s 88 pages long, and honestly a perfect feature-writer handbook for how to built an interested following with content related to what’s being sold.

Seriously it’s got everything. News about the card game:

Profiles on cards and decks, much like the Shining Flare Wingman deck that’s advertised on the cover:

But then there’s the more fun stuff that shows how interested whoever put these things together was in not only the card game, but the culture surrounding it.

There are articles all about things like the anime throughout the magazine, which I’m sure appealed to me because the anime was my route into Yu-Gi-Oh!

Top tens and episode reviews.

Seriously, this thing is like the perfect analog representation of exactly what you’d expect to see from fandom-driven sites online today.

It’s like Buzzfeed before Buzzfeed. Except all about Yu-Gi-Oh!

And much more my speed.

Of course there’s also other magazine mainstays, like this section all about reader-submitted fan art:

Shout out to Michael from Utah for truly capturing the anime mood.

Seeing this part of the magazine in particular reminds me a lot of the old Highlights magazines, those book-centric ones everyone would get from book fairs in elementary school.

All it needs is a few hidden object games and I would be 100 percent down.

On the bright side, in place of those kinds of games, this magazine also talked about Yu-Gi-Oh! video games.

So hey, it’s got my best interest at heart.

Most of the rest is just advertisements and and pages upon pages of sales figures for individual cards.

While those are interesting in their own right just to take a glimpse back at early 2006, as it seems these things came out bimonthly, I definitely think my biggest takeaway is how awesome all of the extra surrounding content is.

Seriously, looking through how much fun the creators must have had pulling together all of these feature-y articles kind of inspires me to be a bit more interested in the features side of the journalism spectrum.

And all because a mobile phone game dropped a somewhat useless monster that gave me a rush of nostalgia 12 years after a seminal moment in my youthful development.

Isn’t life just a crazy thing?

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Looking at Nintendo’s E3 2018 Conference

Looking at Nintendo’s E3 2018 Conference

E3 was a tricky thing for me this year. See… A lot of it just isn’t for me.

That’s not me saying I’m not interested in a lot of the developers and what they’re working on, I mean literally there are barriers to me playing most games.

Like yeah I would love to play Kingdom Hearts 3, and I thought having three trailers across three different conferences that all featured different content was dope. But it’s on Xbox One and Playstation 4. Not the Switch.

#BringKH3toSwitch

Or yeah, Resident Evil 2 getting an HD remake is neat. Shadows Die Twice looks like a super cool game. Monster Hunting in Final Fantasy 14 is a good idea no matter which way you slice it. Fallout 76 seems interesting and fun. Etcetera, etcetera.

Unfortunately I’m just limited in what I can access, and money is a severely limiting factor when it comes to getting consoles.

So to sum up 90 percent of E3 this year I’ll say this: It was better than a lot of other years prior, and I had a great time watching my friends freak out about what’s coming out soonish. And it has been cool seeing YouTube ads get replaced by E3 trailers

But frankly the only thing I can really have any authority or hype to discuss is the big N. So today, I’m dedicating my blog post to the Nintendo E3 2018 Direct conference.

If you want something more in-depth about the other conferences, there’s plenty of opinions out there. Might I recommend ProJared? He didn’t go to the conference in person this year it looks like, but I still respect his opinion quite a bit.

That said, let’s jump right in with what we got out of Nintendo this year.


So the Direct starts with this hype game about mechs battling called DAEMON X MACHINA. Super action-y music, real Justice League-esque color scheme.

It looks cool, and I get why they would start with something that has such a high-octane feel… But it’s not a very ‘Nintendo’-looking game. I just kind of spent half of it staring at the screen wondering why we started with this and not one of the classic IPs.

But then it very jarringly cuts to silence and awkwardly moves into the next thing.

That next thing happens to be Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC. Which is something I would probably care about more if I’d played either of the Xenoblade Chronicles games.

Next.

Okay that’s not fair, it’s nice to see the game getting more love since I know it’s a series plenty of people love. I just literally don’t know enough about it to offer an opinion.

But hey, then our boy Reggie Fils-Aimé comes in to kick things up to 100 for me by showing off that Pokémon goodness.

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Except he doesn’t really, since it’s mostly just a recap of the trailer we saw the other day. No new footage or anything. So I guess if you want my over-extensive rumination on that, check it out through this link.

One thing he does let us know that’s new is the fact that the Pokeball Plus accessory allows you to get Mew in Let’s Go. That… Actually does make them feel much more worthwhile than I had originally thought.

Damn you clever marketing tactics. Damn you…

After that brief aside comes a return to form that feels much-needed on the Switch:

Super Mario Party.

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Image courtesy of vg247.com

That’s right, everyone’s favorite friendship killer is back. But this time it looks like Nintendo made a lot of good choices just based on the footage we can see.

For one, no more cars. Everyone wanders around on the game board on their own again. God bless.

They also show off the fact that the Switch consoles themselves will be well-integrated into the mini games, allowing players to do things like rearrange battlefields for tank fights.

Everything looks colorful and has branching pathways again, and there seems to be a wide variety of mini games to play. On top of that, they clearly pushed the fact that this is a Mario Party you can take literally anywhere thanks to it being on the Switch, which is a good selling point.

Plus Rosalina is there as a playable character. So honestly I can find no reason to complain. Come October, my friends and I are going to be all over it I’m sure.

Once Mario is finished, we move into the next thing. Yet another highly anticipated interest of mine:

NintendoSwitch_FireEmblemThreeHouses_scrn14_E3
Image Courtesy of Nintendosoup.com

Fire Emblem Switch finally has a name. Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

It seems the one thing Intelligent Systems learned from Fates is the fact that they can sell more games if they split them up, so instead of two main versions now there are three!

Alright no that’s a joke, don’t believe that fake news. I think it’s just three Lord characters from feuding lands or something along those lines.

The game honestly looks gorgeous from what we can see in the trailer. The environments look realistic more in-line with Fire Emblem Warriors than the somewhat cartoonish fantasy worlds of Awakening and Fates. Which is a plus or a minus depending on who you are, but I dig the art style personally.

It also seems to retain the same stylized cutscene art as Echoes, and the in-game character models are full body, more in-line with those cutscenes.

There are a number of new mechanics showcased in the trailer as well. For one, all individual units appear to have their own troop of units surrounding them when you zoom in close enough. Honestly, this makes a lot of sense to embody the feeling of controlling an army, something older titles had to kind of awkwardly skirt around due to the conflicts with its core gameplay mechanics.

The extra troops don’t appear to be able to take hits for each individual main unit, but they can be put into formations to direct attacks whichever way the player wants.

Also introduced as a step-up from previous titles is what looks like semi-open world portions where the game’s lords can explore expansive towns and castles. It’s as if the free-roaming home base feature from Fates used the third person camera style from dungeon exploring that came in Echoes, but it has a massive graphical overhaul.

Beyond that there are a few extra vague things shown that won’t necessarily make sense until we learn more/see the game. There are character choices that may affect what weapons the Lord units specialize in, the evil king uses an electrical whip like that villain from Iron Man 2 (so whips confirmed as weapons?), there are big mechanical people who seem to be units or at least bosses…

And then lore stuff that isn’t exactly clear.

They give a Spring 2019 release date, but that’s about all we can gleam before the next few trailers hit rapid-fire. For anyone who watched the presentation, there’s a pretty big light at the end of the tunnel so I’ll move through them quick.

  • Fortnite on Switch: I couldn’t really care less. But it’s free I suppose?
  • Reggie comes back to introduce Indie games. Starting with the sequel to Overcooked — a game that I’ve been forced to play with my friends and regret every minute of. Why Reggie. Why.
  • Killer Queen Black looks like a strange 16-bit inspired clone of Joust, just updated for 2018 mayhem. Apparently it’s a port of a game Reggie says was really popular… But I’ve never heard of it. So we’ll see.
  • Hollow Knight, meanwhile, is a game I’ve heard plenty about. I’ve heard it’s gorgeous and fun, one of my friend Kyle’s favorites from 2017. I’ll actually consider downloading it given the fact it’s out today.
  • The super stylized Square Enix RPG Octopath Traveler received an official June 14th release date. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the game but it looks cool and my friends are hyped for it, so I’m sure I’ll play it eventually.

After those announcements, there’s a montage of games that are either coming out or have come out. The one that stood out most, frankly, is Dragonball FighterZ. Something I’ve been looking for on Switch for forever.

Plus Dark Souls and Monster Hunter Gen Ultimate. And The World Ends with You, coming this Fall apparently.

Just… Give it to me already Nintendo, I need all of your games.

But wait, that montage must be the end of the Direct, right? How can there still be a half hour left?

Oh.

Ohhh.

Oh man. Here we go. Masahiro Sakurai is here. That can only mean one thing:

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Image courtesy of theverge.comtheverge.com

We begin this long examination of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with the biggest announcement it has to offer. Every single fighter from every previous Smash game is back.

Ice Climbers? In the game.

Solid Snake? In the game.

Pichu? Young Link? Wolf? Pokemon Trainer? In the game.

But more than that, a few characters have received overhauls. Most notably Link, who now sports his Breath of the Wild look, as well as Zelda, from Link Between Worlds, and Ganon, from Ocarina of Time. The clashing art styles there are a bit jarring for me personally, but it’s cool to get a wider breadth of representation for the series!

Oh and let’s not forget the new characters: the Inklings from Splatoon, Princess Daisy and… Oh.

Ridley.

Ridley is actually in the game.

Our memes have become our reality, folks. End of the line.

Many of the characters also appear to have adjusted move sets. Notably final smash attacks. For example, Pac-Man now seems to rain down like meteors in his, rather than just moving semi-quick across the screen. King Dedede’s smash is based on the Masked Dedede cage fight now. Bowser’s is based on the Yoshi’s Island boss fight.

There’s a whole long section in the video going over the different ways characters have changed, and I’d recommend going to watch that. It does a way better job summing things up than I could.

I’ll just say… RIP Landmaster. Your legacy will always be remembered.

Sakurai himself says they made the impossible possible because it’s what players want, and by god is he right. What a beautiful, amazing man.

Eight-player Smash matches are also returning, as are a billion fan-favorite maps. On top of that, there are little quality of life changes like seeing gauges for Cloud and Robin’s abilities, which makes it easier to track everything on one screen.

Oh and let’s not forget. Assist trophies have been added, like the Squid Sisters. Many can be knocked out too New Pokémon assists have been added, like Solgaleo from Sun and Moon.

… Also Bomberman is there. Because why not?

Everything emphasized by Sakurai seems to suggest the game’s development was focused on making everything more beautiful, more intimately connected to the individual fighters showcased and more quick and fun as a brawler for players.

It’s honestly a greatest hits album for Smash Bros., and I really can’t argue with how amazing it looks.

I just hope we get a lot more new characters in the lead-up to the game. I want the roster for Smash Ultimate to look like one of those silly rom hack Smash games. After all, the Inkling fighters and Ridley both look like really fun additions.

But mostly I want more characters because then we get more amazing reveal trailers.

In Ridley’s trailer, he straight up murders Mario and Mega Man.

Like holy shit it’s so intense and real like for no reason. And I love it.

Plus they say he finally ‘hits the big time.’ I see what you did there Sakurai.

With Smash coming out in December, it’s heard up to be a perfect holiday present for all the kiddos. I’m certainly looking forward to it!


I can understand why people might have been disappointed by Nintendo’s E3 Direct this year.

As a fan of Fire Emblem, Pokémon and Smash Bros., I had a great time watching the Direct. It does help that the Switch is the only console I own, so it was kind of a look at the only games I can get in the near future… But still.

I felt much more hype walking out of the Direct than I did walking in.

Despite that, the lack of discussion regarding things like Metroid Prime 4, which was teased last year, and other such misses are easy jabs to make at the conference. Everything was very focused on a select number of games, with not too much else branching out.

Of course there was (and I believe still is as I write this) the Treehouse Live going on that talked about more Pokémon details and stuff like that… But I didn’t have the patience or time to sit through it, so I’m going to leave those topics for another day.

Maybe.

Probably not, I don’t know. We’ll see.

In the meantime, let me know what you thought of Nintendo’s E3 conference this year!

Or, further than that, let me know what you thought of E3 in general this year. I may only have a Nintendo console, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t games in the other spheres that I didn’t find interesting. I’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to coming soon to consoles everywhere!

Scattered Fangs, Shattered Dreams

Scattered Fangs, Shattered Dreams

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If you missed part one of this two-part posting session on the Fire Emblem Heroes updates this week — which are frankly only connected by coincidental timing and the fact that I’m bringing it to your attention up top — check out the Version 2.6.0 update post through this link!

Whenever Heroes updates, the developers tend to package that update together with a new summoning focus and story missions. Version 2.6.0 was no exception, as it brought us new heroes from the Blazing Blade.

Except retroactively put ‘new’ in quotes because not all of them are new.

But I’ll discuss that as soon as I get through my discussion on the merit of these new units!


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NinoPale Flower

Skill Set:

  • Giga Excalibur (Might = 14 / Range = 2)
    • Grants +3 Speed. If unit’s Speed > foe’s Speed, boosts damage dealt by 70 percent of the difference between stats (Maximum bonus of +7 damage, combos with Phantom Speed).
  • Moonbow (Cooldown = 2)
    • Treats foe’s Defense or Resistance as if reduced by 30 percent during combat.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Aerobatics (B Skill)
    • Unit can move to a space adjacent to any infantry, armored or cavalry unit within two spaces.
  • Speed Smoke (C Skill)
    • Inflicts -7 Speed on foes within two spaces of target through their actions after combat.

Analysis:

Nino has been one of my favorite units in Heroes since the game first came out. I never played Blazing Blade, but when I summoned the green mage for the first time I loved the way her art looked and she quickly become a unit I used so much that she was the first I ever upgraded to a five-star through hero feathers. She was also the first unit I built-up with skill inheritance.

While that should theoretically make me more excited to see this new Nino… It’s kind of the opposite, honestly. That’s not because of her skills. If anything, she’s got a weapon with a dope animation (though the effect just seems okay at best) and has some effective power behind a glass canon speedy attacker build. Plus Aerobatics feels like it would be broken on a physical unit, if somewhat situational on a mage.

What really bugs me about her is the fact that she’s continuing a trend of units getting alternate forms outside of holiday events. First came cavalier Eirika, then Kinshi Hinoka. While I was willing to blow all my orbs on Hinoka because she was a dope new alternate, as a whole I find I really dislike the practice of taking the slot of fan-favorite characters who have yet to be introduced into the game and giving them to units who already are. During special occasions like holidays it makes sense, but the main banners should be reserved for new units like promised.

It just kind of feels like Intelligent Systems is hoping to pad out how long they can milk this game… Even though there are 20 billion units waiting to be introduced, and at the rate of three-to-five units being added every other week it certainly doesn’t seem like they’re close to drying up anytime soon.

But that’s enough ranting for now, we have two other heroes to discuss.


KarlaSword Vassal

Skill Set:

  • Vassal’s Blade (Might = 16 / Range = 1)
    • Accelerates Special Attack trigger (cooldown -1). If unit’s Speed > foe’s Speed, boosts damage dealt by 70 percent of the difference between stats (Maximum bonus of +7 damage, combos with Phantom Speed).
  • Draconic Aura (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts Attack by 30 percent.
  • Wrath (B Skill)
    • At the start of a turn, if unit’s Health ≤ 75 percent and unit’s attack triggers a Special Attack, grants Special Attack cooldown -1. Deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Even Speed Wave (C Skill)
    • At the start of even-numbered turns, grants +6 Speed to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (Bonus granted to unit even with no allies adjacent).

Analysis:

I’ve heard lots of people calling Karla just a weaker version of Ayra, a unit we’ve already got that is considered one of the most broken in the game. I suppose I can’t argue with that, since I don’t have Ayra to compare her to, but at the same time I think Karla appears to do the job she’s been given exceedingly well based on her skill set.

Both Vassal’s Blade and Wrath are clearly focused on increasing the power and activation timing of her Special Attack, Draconic Aura. Though I imagine there are far better Special Attacks to give her out there, most if not all of them will likely be impressive. On top of that, Even Speed Wave is a nice buff to a team’s stats in a form that has thus far only been seen with Ishtar.

Long story short, I like the cut of her jib.


LegaultThe Hurricane

Skill Set:

  • The Cleaner (Might = 12 / Range = 2)
    • Adds total bonuses on foe to damage dealt during combat. After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on target and foes within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Glimmer (Cooldown = 2)
    • Boosts damage dealt by 50 percent.
  • Swift Strike (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Speed and Resistance +4 during combat.
  • Attack Tactic (C Skill)
    • At the start of a turn, grants Attack +6 to allies within two spaces for one turn. Granted only if number of that ally’s movement type on current team is ≤ two.

Analysis:

In my opinion, Legault feels like he’s just on the outskirts of being the greatest dagger-wielding unit in the game.

His weapon The Cleaner just needed to have its text slightly adjusted. Instead of buffing Legault’s damage by the bonuses tacked onto the foe, it should have given him damage buffs based on the bonuses on his person. It should have been a Blade Tome Dagger, in other words.

Without it, Legault is rather basic with Glimmer, Swift Strike and Attack Tactic. There really isn’t anything special about him. I seriously just don’t have anything to say about the guy, he’s the lowest on the totem pole of units I want to summon on this particular banner.


To be totally blunt about this banner right off the bat, I probably won’t be spending a lot of time or orbs on these three units. After Legendary Ryoma quite literally bled me dry for nothing, I’m not exactly looking to spend anything on any unit until building my stockpile up again, to be fair.

But these three specifically don’t excite me that much on top of that. Like I said before, Nino would have been top of the list for my emotional connection to her in Heroes at least, but I’m internally protesting the practice IS has been using by not pining after her.

My orbs will probably be better spent either on the 2018 brides banner (which I still haven’t gotten anything out of) or on whatever summer-themed banner I’m sure will inevitably be coming out in the next few weeks.

That or I’ll just fill my coffers with orbs and feel better about myself. Having a security fund in this game is a magical thing, honestly.

Because I’m not planning on summoning too much here, I don’t have a section about my summoning experiences to share. So instead, let’s jump right into some story, because it’s a quintessential example of my favorite FEH meme:

Feh Plot Meme


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With a story chapter and mission both named ‘The King’s Demise,’ there’s no way we aren’t getting some plot all up in here.

Following the defeat of Helbindi in Chapter 9, the Order of Heroes continue to make their way into Múspell with hopes of defeating King Surtr once and for all. In general, the aesthetic of the land of fire isn’t my favorite when compared to the beautiful tundra environments and glassy castles of Nifl, but it’s serviceable and well done.

I do like Surtr’s throne room in particular, it reminds me of something I might build as an intimidating throne room with my friends in Minecraft. But that’s beside the point — we’re a long way away from his throne room at the start of the chapter.

Things kick off with the team conversing on how to best get to the King. Form’s youngest sibling offers her advice to move through the forest to get there having heard to do so from her prior captors.

I do still subscribe to the theory that Ylgr is actually the shapeshifter Loki in disguise,  as her extensive knowledge of the area might help suggest, but the game doesn’t really drop any more hints regarding that through this chapter. So we’ll see.

That resolve becomes a motif throughout the chapter, however.

Somewhat…

See, during the first and last missions it’s referenced quite a bit. Those are typically the most important parts of every chapter, after all.

The middle three tend to just be brief introductions to the characters who have been added into the game.

The Blazing Blade units feel like they were shafted somewhat in that regard. Besides the funny coincidence of their game’s name having ‘blazing’ in it, the added characters feel a bit out-of-place in the hellish land of Múspell and don’t get too much time to converse, something which may have helped otherwise.

There is a nice little continuity of throwing all the other members of the Black Fang into the missions to fit with Nino and Legault… But Karla feels very out-of-place as a result.

I don’t know, maybe my feelings toward the units in general colored my opinion of their appearance in-game, but I just wasn’t a huge fan of this one in that regard.

So instead I’m just going to focus solely on the conflict with the King.

When the Order clears out Legault on the first map, he drops some mad foreshadowing.

Then once the Blazing Blade units have all been routed, the Order makes it to his castle, ready for battle. It’s a battle that has been built up for 10 chapters now, with the game showcasing all of Surtr’s brutality through cutscenes and invincibility through battles.

It’s a battle that has been 10 chapters in the making through the quest for the Rite of Ice that brought about conflict in Nifl, the death of Gunnthrá and some strange sickness in Fjorm.

In other words?

It has been the progenitor of maximum lore.

That hope, it is revealed, is the magical power granted to the player character’s summoning gun weapon (because yes that’s still a thing) granted through the Rite of Ice.

When it’s utilized, the protection spell that brings the king invincibility disappears:

With the battle made more fair, Surtr is finally defeated.

There’s a pretty hilarious dissonance at this point in the game, for me at least, watching the all-powerful lord of flames who has been built up for so long finally be defeated…

By a level 40 unit that has a weapon triangle advantage while he’s sitting at about level 15. In one hit. With him unable to do anything in return.

Gotta love when game mechanics usurp plot armor.

Granted he is much tougher in the lunatic-level fight, but that’s a different story.

Once Surtr is defeated, the Order celebrates.

But wait.

There’s more.

Apparently, the Fire ritual that gave Surtr his power also prevents him from dying.

Because sometimes plot armor has to usurp game mechanics as well. God bless the push-and-pull of game development.

If I had to inject my own theorizing into the game’s story, I’d say the revival of Surtr (and some other details yet to come) are indicators of us only being halfway through Book II. Following a proper hero’s journey — because that would be fitting for FEH, wouldn’t it? — this is the halfway point where all seems hopeless before we find a way to build up to the ultimate climax.

Because Surtr’s description indicates he’s a descendant of the Fire Dragon, I’m under the impression we’ll eventually get to fight that dragon.

Plus there are other plot points that have yet to be resolved:

  • Where did Veronica go? Obviously she’s still summoning units for Múspell, but they said they would be using her as a ritual sacrifice. Will that be the next major plot device?
  • Is Ylgr secretly Loki? Also, what is Loki’s plan in all this? The bridal Tempest Trial indicated she’s the mother of Laevatein, so is she just in it for the king and her daughter? Or is that a lie and she has ulterior motives?

There are more, but we’ll get to that.

When Surtr is revived, the team is distraught and forced to retreat.

Yeah… He’s kind of a dick, too.

A very, very overconfident dick.

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Foreshadow?

Perhaps. Time will tell in that regard.

After that retreat, the scene cuts away to a post-battle discussion between the king’s daughters that serves to set up where everything seems to be going next.

So we’ve got that going for us.

These two dialogue boxes alone are rather interesting in my opinion. The first is a reference to the way Fjorm treated Laegjarn so amicable when she was captured following the battle in Nifl (featuring Chrom and the two Morgans).

If my shipper’s heart is to read into it… I’m led to believe Laegjarn might just have a crush on the ice princess based on that. Though it could just be a mutual respect and admiration. But I’d giggle if it were the prior.

The second seems to set up that the final Nifl sibling will become relevant to the plot from here on out.

Perhaps the next Legendary Hero will be a surprise appearance from the eldest Nifl royal? That or he’ll simply arrive in the story to help lead a charge against Surtr once the next path to weakening him is discovered.

I just hope he’s a more well utilized character than Celica’s brother in Echoes, who was a cool masked cavalier that felt wasted once he was actually turned into a unit… Like… three-quarters of the way through the game.

That’s right, #EchoesShade. Don’t @ me, gamers.


With the story fading to black from there, leaving our heroes on a low note that makes it seem as though all is lost — but throwing in a glimpse of hope to cut through the darkness — I’ve officially run out of things to say.

Overall I appreciate the hero’s journey that has been set up in the long-term, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the developers do with it.

How do you feel about the way the story is developing?

Plus, let me know what you think of the brand new heroes from Blazing Blade in the comments down below!

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 2.6.0: Masks and Menu Mayhem

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 2.6.0: Masks and Menu Mayhem

There ain’t no weekend like a Fire Emblem Heroes update weekend!

This Thursday afternoon, Heroes received its 2.6.0 update, which was followed up with a brand new summoning focus based around Blazing Blade characters that night.

While I usually try to condense this stuff into a day after post, the band-related stuff I took part in yesterday kept me busy enough that I really wasn’t able to commit the time I wanted to this. So I figure I’ll split the version update and the new summoning banner into different posts today and tomorrow to fill my writing quota.

That said, if you’re seeing this well in the future when everything is already available, you can check out the post on the summoning focus here.

But for now, let’s jump into what’s new with version 2.6.0!


Home Page Changes

Alright so the most obvious and somewhat jarring change that came with this update is visible as soon as players open the game:

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That’s right, the hub area now has red ribbon labels over each function.

That’s pretty much literally all there is to say about that. Apparently the point was to make them more obvious but I wouldn’t say they were necessarily hard to discern in the first place.

Ah well, we’ll get used to the new look eventually and it probably won’t even matter.

Next!


Accessories

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Coming straight out of the world of Fire Emblem Fates, Heroes is adding a bit more customization by implementing an accessories system.

Again, there isn’t all that much to say about this feature. It’s rather self-explanatory.

Outfit pieces can be unlocked in various ways, and players can attach those pieces to their heroes to give them a bit more personality when facing off against opponents in the Arena.

Or just for the sake of making them look cool. That’s also an excellent reason to do it, let’s be honest.

A few accessories were given out when the game updated as the reward for a retweet event a couple of weeks back, so everyone who plays has started off with something to put on already.

 

Naturally I dressed up Eirika first, since she’s arguably my most used unit and the protagonist from my favorite Fire Emblem game.

Or at least the protagonist that I own in a game with two main protagonists.

Doesn’t she look frickin’ cute in that hairpin? I think so.

At the moment there are only five accessories to utilize, so not too many characters can take advantage of them. Most of those five are also locked behind missions to complete:

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Luckily they’re easy to complete. And we have 40 days to do so.

If nothing else I’m thankful that the Mysterious Mask Lucina wears when she cosplays as Marth is one of the first costume pieces available. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time trying to decide who’s the best person to wear that thing.

I hope they frequently add in more accessories, because one day I’d like to make my characters as baller as I made Beruka back in my Fates days.

Cool Beruka

Classic.


Ally Menu Adjustments

While the addition of more stand-out labels to the home page were the most immediately striking change visually, this one is arguably going to screw with players the most in my opinion.

Or, at least, it’s going to screw with me for a long time. That much I can guarantee.

Long-time players of Fire Emblem Heroes are likely to flip to the game’s misc. setting tab when they want to look at the Hero Merit their units have accumulated or to see the progress made on their Hero Catalog.

Like me, they probably had to do a double take when discovering those options are no longer under that tab.

That’s because the Ally tab has been completely reinvented to offer just about anything and everything related to working with units in one place.

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Contrary to what many of you may be thinking, the plus signs aren’t actually something players can interact with.

They do, in fact, indicate that there’s an extra menu under those options to expand out. However the actual icons don’t open up or have smaller icons pop up underneath. They just open up a separate page with a number of options to select in each.

For Ally Growth:

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For Change Equipment:

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For Interact with Allies:

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See, that’s where the Catalog and Hero Merit List are hiding now.

In the same change category, the game has also highlighted two other quality of life additions to the Ally menus.

First is the ability to automatically spend as much SP as a character has accumulated on their skill upgrades all at once, rather than having to do them one-at-a-time like a savage.

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Considering how many people inherit skills that wouldn’t want their SP spent on certain skills they aren’t looking to use, I can’t imagine this option will be widely used by competitive players.

But for people who are more casually picking up the game once in a while it’s probably a nice idea.

I sort of fall into the prior category though so… We’ll see.

Second is the addition of more favoring options in different colors, that way players can more aptly organize their heroes however they want.

I can see this one being much more useful for me… As soon as I figure out exactly what I need this many divisions for.

Perhaps I’ll try to separate out heroes that are good for skill inheriting, or better indicating who has better IVs.

I’ll experiment and get back to you on that.


New Weapon Refinements

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Four heroes have been given new life with new weapon refinements.

To be completely honest, the Tiki improvements are the only ones I really care about, and even there it’s just for young Tiki.

Linde’s refinement to Aura allows her to gain +5 Attack and Speed if she’s within two spaces of a magic unit or cleric. That is a great power boost, but Dark Aura is also a powerful upgrade that she’s had for some time now.

To be fair Merric’s refinement to Excalibur has the exact same effect. But he’s a unit that desperately needs a boost like that from what I understand, even though he also has access to Dark Excalibur. That one just happens to be less useful than Dark Aura.

Tiki’s stands out more to me, mostly, because she was one of the first units I ever summoned and has been a staple on my teams ever since.

Her personal base weapon is absolutely garbage, however. So terrible that everyone replaces it with Lightning Breath almost instinctual.

However, now she has access to Breath of Fog rather than just Flametongue. And Breath of Fog is way better!

Not only is it effective against all dragon units, the Breath restores 10 Health every other turn and ensures her damage goes by the foe’s lowest defensive stat if from a distance. Plus it does 16 base damage and that’s great for a dragon attack!

The only problem with this is the fact that you need to inherit Distant Counter to utilize the Breath fully, whereas Lightning Breath has a two space range built-in.

I don’t know, I suppose I’ll see if it’s worth getting rid of distance in place of power by messing with it. But just know I certainly feel like it could be worth it.


Smaller Changes

Many of the changes made through this update are relatively small things, so I figured I’d lump them all together here.

I’ll be honest, neither of these changes in particular mean much of anything to me.

They’re cool I guess, but they’re such minutia that I can’t be bothered to provide any sort of well thought out, philosophical commentary at like… 2 a.m.

In fact I’m just going to take the easy way out and show off the ‘other changes’ listing before wrapping this sucker up.

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If it wasn’t obvious, I basically wrote this post in two sittings. One during the day, in the middle of sitting around at the RUHS band banquet. The other was during the early, early hours of today where I was a bit too tired to really focus on anything.

Yet I decided to finish this anyway just for the sake of having it out at a proper time. Even though I easily could have waited and gotten this out later in the day.

My brain is stupid like that sometimes. I just love torturing myself.

That said, hopefully you got a good grasp of what this update entailed for the game going forward! If so, let me know what you think is the best part of the update.

In the meantime, I’m going to go pass out. Stay tuned for tomorrow (as of this posts publishing) for part two of this session regarding the new summoning banner!

Making up for lost time

I had a fun day with my friends yesterday. Chilling for the first time this summer, playing games late into the night, watching dumb internet videos and eating pizza.

Because I got lost doing that, I unfortunately didn’t have the chance to write a blog post. I don’t imagine anyone is going to fault me for that necessarily, but I still personally feel bad for dropping the ball on my goal, so I wanted to write something extra today to make up for it.

It won’t be nearly as gargantuan as my Yu-Gi-Oh!-themed post from this morning, as I spent large chunks of the last week working on that.

Also yes, I know I could have just rescheduled that to post yesterday and completely circumnavigate this internal turmoil.

But I didn’t think about it until today so shush.

I’ve just finished doing another edit for Boom, this time on a piece about the impact of Mexican migrants on the history of soccer’s popularity in the United States as we approach the 2018 World Cup. However, like with the Kennedy piece from the other day (which is online and can be read here), I don’t necessarily have much to say about this one because it’s not available to read so I can give full credit where it’s due.

So instead I figured I would talk about some of the highlights from my friend hangout yesterday.

We played Minecraft for a hell of a long time. It’s something we’ve been doing through online connections and Skype chats for the past couple weeks, so getting to do it in person was a lot of fun.

In fact it was also an excellent showcase of the power of the Nintendo Switch to be a great multiplayer console. While mine was plugged into the large TV we have upstairs that way I could play split screen with Juan (who doesn’t own the game), both Tiana and Mitchell were playing on their personal consoles at other parts of the room, since they’d both brought them along.

Then on top of that, we were also playing with Jonathan, who’s still up at UC Davis finishing off his school quarter. Luckily he had the time to spare, since our main world is hosted on his console. We even called him on Skype, and he basically stayed in the loop for the entire day, which was pretty cool.

Sometimes it’s nice to appreciate how miraculous technology can be in terms of keeping us all connected.

I would share some photos from our time playing, but I’m still working on a more reliable way to pull photos off the Switch that don’t involve needlessly posting them ALL on Twitter, so that’ll have to wait for another time.

For now enjoy this reference Minecraft made to Heavy Rain that was just convenient enough to be hilarious:

After our (admittedly somewhat bloated) play session of Minecraft came to a close, we had some pizza and watched dumb internet videos. Memes, vine compilations, video game-related things. All that good stuff.

One such video was Long Long Man, which is a series of Japanese gum commercials that you need to watch right now if you haven’t seen it.

We introduced my sister to it and this was her reaction when the big reveal came at the end.

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I’m not kidding, watch it. It’ll change your life.

Here you go. Thank me later.

We also watched the first episode of Aggretsuko, a slice-of-life anime about anthropomorphic animals who work in a modern-day office setting.

Also the main character deals with misogyny and other headaches by sneaking off to sing death metal in secluded places.

It’s an odd show and I’m not sure I can necessarily give a full scope of my opinions on it having only watched one episode. However, my friend Kaleb did write an extended piece about the show from a more knowledgeable platform that I would recommend giving a read.

One other particularly notable thing from last night was our experience with Fire Emblem Heroes. As I’ve talked about before, one of the reasons I stick with the game so adamantly is because we all play it together.

It hasn’t exactly been kind to me recently, however. I was rather eager to go after one of the red units on the Legendary Ryoma banner, to the point that I started spending a lot of orbs.

However, lots of time and orbs passed, and I wasn’t getting anything.

Eventually it was concerning how I wasn’t able to pull a single five-star unit on the initial eight percent banner.

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It got pretty bad. Even my last-ditch effort to buy some orbs when I ran out failed, despite the fact that I imagined having everyone around would make it more likely that the game would take it easy on me.

The game didn’t take it easy on me.

The Ryoma banner is gone now, and all of my orbs have gone to waste.

It’s not an encouraging feeling. Especially considering Tiana decided to summon on her eight percent chance just to test whether or not it was my luck.

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Turns out it was all my luck.

Hallelujah.

That disappointment aside, it was a pretty amazing moment when she literally pulled the unit that had been avoiding me for so long just in a whim.

All-and-all I’d say that aptly describes what makes our hangouts so fun. Doing things that would otherwise be a good time alone, but become that much better when we’re together because of how we can play off each other.

That said, I really don’t have too much more to say, so I think I’ll leave it here.

Hope everyone has had a nice Thursday! Look forward to my posts that will wrap up this week about the RUHS band banquet tomorrow night and whatever updates we’ll be seeing in FEH in the next few days.

‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck profile — Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck profile — Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Duel Links has kind of fallen out of favor in my phone app priority list for some time now.

It’s not that I don’t still love the game. I do. But Konami has a tendency to… Power creep a little faster than I’m comfortable with as a free-to-play user.

By power creep, I mean they add a new box of cards about once every two-to-three weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why that’s the decision they’ve made. New boxes mean a host of new cards that redefine the Player vs. Player metagame and keep the community thriving with new strategies.

It makes sense and is arguably a good business decision.

But because I don’t pay to buy the new boxes out, I wind up still stuck using a slowly accumulating set of gems to buy out older boxes while people are kicking everyone around with the newest stuff. While I still love the game for the computer-driven content that’s also constantly being added in, having myself be stuck in place on the PvP ladder because I can’t get past the newest, strongest card combinations without dumb luck is frustrating.

The PvP is half the draw of Duel Links, as it’s the real place to test out decks and earn good rewards. So it’s a shame that being so frustrated with it has taken away some of the fun of the game for me right now.

However, in the face of that frustration, I’ve decided to take a different approach than just giving up.

On April 26, the character level cap for every Legendary Duelist in the game was increased from 40 to 45. This meant a number of things for the game, but most notably: More gems and a new character-specific card for each duelist.

Many of the new level-up cards are just okay at best in my opinion. But two of them specifically stood out. Yami Yugi and Arkana both received a new support card for the Dark Magician archetype.

Seeing those two additional cards and remembering how much fun I used to have playing my Dark Magician/Dark Magician Girl combo deck inspired me to try to play a fun, nostalgic deck again rather than a purely meta-driven one.

Thus, my ‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck was born.

It’s not the best deck in the world, but it has a bunch of super fun combo pieces that I’ve been enjoying playing more than most everything else since counter-fairies got a short-lived buff a few months back.

Because I’ve been having so much fun with the old DM, I wanted to bring back something from the days of old on my blog: Deck profiles.

I only did one about a year ago for a Bakura-driven fiend monster deck that I used during the 2017 World Championships. Seems fitting to have that format return now that I’m hitting the 2018 World Championship Qualifiers with a brand new, classic deck.

I’m looking to write a lot over the summer, and I’m going to  try new things with this post in particular using the knowledge of formatting I’ve accumulated via Fire Emblem posts and using my newfound video powers.

So perhaps deck profiles are something that can see a return more frequently with new decks I try out over the next few months. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing!

For now, with that prologue about my current Duel Links journey out-of-the-way, let’s jump in.


The Basics

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Welcome to the dark carnival, everyone.

Obviously this isn’t your daddy’s Dark Magician. No no, this is the special red Dark Magician, utilized by Arkana the Rare Hunter during Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Battle City arc in the original anime.

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For all intents and purposes, red Dark Magician is exactly the same as the original Dark Magician. Same stats, same description, same level, everything. The red guy is basically an angsty, cool teenage reprint of the classic monster.

A cool reprint with probably one of the best play mats in the game. Just saying.

So why use him instead of the classic, iconic DM?

Well… This version of the card has a special animation when summoned by Arkana specifically. And we’re using Arkana today, not Yugi.

See Arkana has a special skill called ‘Master of Magicians’ that helps grease the combo wheels of this particular deck. It allows him to draw one of three cards from outside of the deck (Dark Magic Attack, Thousand Knives and Dark Magic Expanded) after losing half his life points.

As you’ll see, it works perfectly with Dark Magic Curtain, one of his signature cards.

Now that you understand the skill helping drive the deck, let’s break down the actual cards making up that deck.


The Monsters

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How could I start with anyone else?

Dark Magician is a normal monster that typically requires two monster tributes to summon. However, given the fact that it became the de facto mascot for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole through its use by the original protagonist Yugi Muto, the card has received a heaping helping of support throughout the years that makes it a still viable boss monster to bring out.

In Duel Links, that support has slowly come out through things like the level-up rewards for Yami Yugi and Arkana, as I mentioned before, as well as in part through support via Tea Gardner and Yugi Muto.

Most of the strategies he uses involve cycling through spells that both allow for easier summoning, for drawing cards and for dealing with the opponent’s board.

My deck is something of a mix of all three.

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Skilled Dark Magician is one of the newer cards added for Dark Magician through Arkana level-up rewards.

He’s an effect monster that can be immediately summoned with a fairly chunky 1900 attack and 1700 defense point spread that allows players to tribute him off when three spell counters are placed on the card (via separate spell cards being used while he’s on the field) to summon DM from the hand, deck or graveyard.

It’s the ‘deck or graveyard’ part of that statement that makes our skilled friend here so special. In a deck that utilizes combining and chaining spells for large plays, it’s rather easy to build up those three counters in the right circumstances, which means you can have a powerful unit early duel that has utility and revival capabilities late in the game.

Trust me, when I explain how the spells work together, you’ll see why he’s such a good card. I do wish there were three available, but two is a solid amount for now.

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Now THIS is the real combo-maker of the deck. Magician’s Rod is a fairly unique support monster for the Dark Magician deck that facilitates a lot of different things because it has a number of effects — more than making up for the somewhat slim 1600 attack and downright disgraceful 100 defense.

First and foremost, summoning the Rod allows players to pull a spell or trap from the deck that lists ‘Dark Magician’ in some capacity. In my deck specifically there are three spells that do so, and each are important at different points in the duel.

In other words, this is the card you want in your opening hand to start working a bunch of different combos, but when late game comes he becomes more of a liability due to that low attack.

The secondary effect is less useful, but it has potential to help. When Magician’s Rod is in the graveyard, if a spell or trap is used during the opponent’s turn (except during the damage step), the player can tribute one of their monsters to add the Rod back into their hand.

There’s some synergy to this effect in conjunction with the next card on my list, Blue Dragon Summoner. However, more often than not one use of the Magician’s Rod will lead to the exhaustion of most of its combo-making cards, so there isn’t a whole lot of point adding it back to your hand when there are no more cards to draw with it.

In other words, don’t be dumb like me and accidentally tribute your Dark Magician during your opponent’s turn to leave yourself open for the kill. Bad idea.

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As I mentioned before, Blue Dragon here has some synergy with Magician’s Rod because of its primary effect: allowing players to add a normal monster (Dragon, Warrior or Spellcaster) from the deck to the hand when it’s sent from the field to the graveyard.

Obviously Dark Magician is the target for this effect. Being able to add that sucker to the hand is more often than not a benefit because it gives you a boss monster to summon and thins out the deck — or gives you cards not during your draw phase, thus making it more likely to draw other cards during said draw phase.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game of statistics, man.

What makes Blue Dragon special is that the drawing aspect works for both battle destruction and card effect destruction. Thus you can get a Dark Magician by using the Summoner as bait for an attack just as easily as you can get one by making him tribute fodder for something like Mgician’s Rod.

Theoretically Legion the Fiend Jester could also be an apt card to fill this slot over Blue Dragon, as he has the same draw effect and an extra assistance effect for tribute summoning.

But I have a soft spot for Blue Dragon, he’s an old favorite of mine. Plus his 1500 attack allows for a little more battle utility than Legion’s 1300.


The Spells

In this Dark Magician deck, there are three spell cards that are useful specifically for the Magician himself, those that can be drawn out by Magician’s Rod. I’m going to go over those first in the order that I’d argue they’re useful to have throughout the duel.

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Another Arkana level-up exclusive card, Dark Magic Curtain is a magical (pun slightly intended?) playmaker to have in your opening hand for a duel.

By paying half of their life points, a player is able to summon Dark Magician from the deck. However, for the rest of that turn, no other summons can be conducted — though monsters can be set.

If it’s turn one and this card is available, not only can you thin your deck one card by pulling out a Dark Magician, you can instantly summon it and start the duel with a 2500 attack monster on deck.

On top of that, this card is the primary reason to run the Arkana-varient of the Dark Magician deck. The average 2000 life point cost (half of the 4000 starting point) is just enough to activate his ‘Master of Magicians’ skill, which instantly adds an extra card into one’s hand.

As amazing as all of this sounds — and frankly is through proper execution — there are downsides. For one, if all of your Dark Magicians are already in the hand or on the field, Curtain becomes an instantly dead card unless somehow the boss monster gets shuffled back into the deck.

On top of that, not being able to summon for the rest of the turn kind of sucks. It means players need to choose between using the Curtain or playing a number of other combinations at once. Though Blue Dragon is a good card to set, to be fair.

Long story short: If you have this card starting out or can use Magician’s Rod to grab it right away, you’re golden. If it’s stuck at the bottom of the deck until its time has passed, it’s worth nothing.

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This card is the newest Yami Yugi level-up reward that essentially inspired me to make this whole deck in the first place.

With Dark Magic Inheritance, players can banish two spell cards from the graveyard to add a ‘Dark Magician’ or ‘Dark Magician Girl’ centered spell or trap from the deck to the hand.

Because of how many spells are in this deck, it’s not hard to get two of them in the graveyard. Until you manage to do so it’s a dead card, but the second it isn’t a dead card it becomes a great way to thin the deck given that it’s a quick play spell, allowing one to activate it easily during whichever phase of the battle they prefer.

In my experience, the best practice with Dark Magic Inheritance is to summon DM using Curtain, then either activate the spell Arkana draws through ‘Master of Magicians’ or use an Enemy Controller, and afterward you’ll be able to draw out Dark Magic Attack from the deck for more deck thinning and the chance to wipe out the opponent’s field.

Unfortunately, the window to use Inheritance is a bit small considering there’s only two other cards in the deck it can draw, but that’s more on my personal decisions for what to include than on the card itself.

If you want to add more DM cards into the deck, it becomes wildly more useful. Nice returns on investment.

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Honestly there isn’t much to say about this card. When you control Dark Magician, you can wipe out your opponent’s back row of cards. Every spell and trap they control.

Simple. Clean. Effective.

So effective, in fact, that I decided to use this instead of the similar monster-based equivalent, Thousand Knives. That spell allows you to destroy one monster on the field, which has much less utility in the long-run than a board wipe in my opinion.

Sure there are cases where the opponent can still activate their spells and traps in response to this wipe and mess with your turn, like using an enemy controller to stop you from attacking. But in my opinion, forcing those kinds of plays rather than letting them utilize the cards at an opportune moment is always preferential.

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Now we’re into the spells that aren’t necessarily Dark Magician-specific.

Even if for the purposes of this deck, Ancient Rules may as well be.

Level-up rewards from Seto Kaiba’s younger brother Mokuba, Ancient Rules simply allows the player to special summon a level five or higher normal monster from the hand. Have a Dark Magician in hand? Well now it’s on the field. Plus you can normal summon that Skilled Dark Magician you’re holding onto for a totally fatal knockout.

Again, simple. While it may be another card that’s ‘dead’ with no Magician in hand, the deck has enough drawing power in my experience to make up for that.

Though I will admit at this point in the profile that a lot of the deck’s contents can be considered dead cards. Which is a seemingly unfortunate reality of playing around a single big boss monster.

So this card is here to help mitigate the risk:

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I’ve talked about Enemy Controller a few times now, and that’s because it’s essentially the staple card that can be placed on any and all decks in Duel Links.

Few other cards offer as much utility as this. Change your opponent’s card to defense or attack position when desired. Tribute your own monster to steal an opponent’s monster. Complete either task during basically any part of the battle due to the quick play aspect of this spell.

It’s just endlessly useful for protection and offensive strategies. Always a good choice when thinking of something to add into a deck.


The Traps

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Champion’s Vigilance is another card that’s essentially dead when not used in conjunction with Dark Magician… But I love it so much that I couldn’t not include it.

When you have a level seven or higher normal monster on the field, anything your opponent does can be negated once.

They summon a monster? Negate and destroy it.

Activate a protecting spell card? Negate and destroy it.

Try to lower your attack with a trap card? Negate and destroy it.

I’ve had so many clutch moments where a field wipe with Dark Magic Attack leads to an immediate victory because you know the first thing they do next turn, likely summoning a monster, will just be a waste.

I do understand how unfortunately limited the card’s utility is, however. Not only is it a dead draw without Dark Magician available, but even if he’s available you still need a turn of placed face-down waiting before being able to activate it.

That’s why I only included one, to mitigate the risk of starting with three Champion’s Vigilance in an opening hand.

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The last card on my list here is another solid, generic defensive card.

When Wall of Disruption is activated, every face-up attack position monster your opponent controls loses 800 attack points for each monster they control on the field.

Though that means defense position monsters are safe, anything not in defense position can lose up to 2400 attack, which will neuter essentially everything in the game. That includes any monster that would negate directly targeting cards, since the Wall is non-targeting.

So take that White Night Dragon.

I mostly just have one of these here since Dark Magician being the strongest thing on the board is a risky thing more often than not.


Gosh, that was a slog to write out. Hopefully it’s just informative and explanatory enough to help anyone who doesn’t regularly play the game, though!

As I briefly mentioned way up at the top of this mountain of words, part of the reason I went through with this small project was discovering the ability to upload videos to YouTube for my own personal use here.

But not just that. In this case, I also figured out a way to record what’s happening on my phone screen.

As a result, please enjoy this sizable duel that I recorded as an example of the Dark Magic deck succeeding:

Though I didn’t have the opportunity to utilize my 1-2 combo of Dark Magic Inheritance in this match-up, I was able to pull off the Skilled Dark Magician tribute, which is a much more rare occurrence in my book.

Plus it’s a good example of Enemy Controller coming in clutch and saving the day.

Of course the magic of editing and selection means you all don’t have to see the many, many loses I accumulated before getting this successful match-up. As I noted throughout this post, many of the Dark Magician-specific cards are dead draws if their combo pieces aren’t available.

Despite those loses, I still think the deck is a lot of fun. And boy is it fantastic when you happen to draw just the right opening hand to demolish an opponent.

For example, this other duel I happened to save:

On the one hand I feel bad about how quickly I was able to demoralize this Bonz.

But on the other hand… God what a satisfying victory.

Also, side note, amazing how both videos wound up with the same thumbnail image. Totally didn’t plan that out or anything.

With that said, I suppose that wraps up my thoughts and advice on using an Arkana Dark Magician deck in Duel Links. Hopefully someone out there found this interesting and helpful, and if you did please let me know in the comments down below!

At the same time I’m interested in doing some more of these, so if there are any decks or cards anyone out there wants to see utilized in some way, shape or form, I’d love to take a crack at it. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated!

… So long as I actually have those cards, of course. But I’m sure you knew that.

If you made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with me! Hope you have a great rest of the day.

 

Lauding the Legendary Lobster

Lauding the Legendary Lobster

Normally I try to have this kind of Fire Emblem Heroes post out early in the morning, but after exploding all over Pokémon news yesterday I couldn’t bring myself to stay up late to write more.

So enjoy this later-than-average look at the Legendary Lobster himself: Supreme Samurai Ryoma.


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RyomaSupreme Samurai

Skill Set:

  • Raijinto (Might = 16 / Range = 1)
    • Unit can counterattack regardless of foe’s range.
  • Glimmer (Cooldown = 2)
    • Boosts damage dealt by 50 percent.
  • Kestrel Stance (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Bushido (B Skill)
    • Deals +10 damage when Special triggers.
  • Guidance (C Skill)
    • Infantry and armored allies within two spaces can move to a space adjacent to unit.

Clearly not wanting to be upstaged by his younger sister, the crown prince of Hoshido is here with his first alternate form since the game was released. Instead of being a grounded samurai warrior, he has taken to the skies on a legendary Kinshi mount to bring swift destruction using his legendary electric blade.

As our seventh Legendary Hero, Ryoma brings all water-blessed allies +3 Health and +4 Defense when they enter battle during a water season. Something particularly interesting about the banner this time around is that it actually laid out exactly how legendary hero stat bonuses work:

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This, by extension, also just about confirms that there are only going to be 16 Legendary Heroes all together. Unless they do something like add more elements of course, but that’s a bridge we can cross when we get to it.

I quite like the chart. It’s succinct and shows pretty neatly how the developers have begun to plan things out.

Next presumably is a fire element Legendary Hero with a Resistance buff, and I’m interested to see who they choose to fit that role.

But we’re not here to discuss future content. Let’s discuss current content.

Many of you who know Fire Emblem fairly well like I do probably thought the same thing:

Why the hell is Ryoma a flying unit?

It’s rather bizarre seeing him take a Kinshi mount, because it seems like the only Legendary alt that’s somewhat out of character. Sure, Kinshi are great mythical beasts associated with the Hoshidan royal family, but Hinoka made far more sense riding one than her brother does here.

If anything, I would imagine Ryoma to fit the archetype of someone like the Black Knight better. A hulking armored unit with samurai gear turned up to 11, stomping around like an impenetrable tank that fires back from all distances with his Raijinto.

Would’ve been pretty dope if I say so myself.

Even though that isn’t what we got, what Legendary Ryoma is certainly isn’t anything to scoff at. Sword-wielding fliers are a rare unit type in Heroes, and even if I have a personal bias for the Elincia that has served me so well, the Hoshidan crown prince is imposing to say the least.

Stat-wise he’s near perfect based on what we can see in his legendary battle. Attack and Speed stats that are both around 50 while still having a baffling high defense stat for a flying unit. Even his resistance isn’t so bad, so he’s well-rounded enough to take a hit and retaliate.

In fact, that’s essentially what his base skills are meant for. If he can tank that bow or that magic attack, not only can Ryoma counter attack from a distance, but his attack and speed are buffed by his A Skill and he deals an insane critical hit thanks to the signature Bushido B Skill.

With it, his distant counter Raijinto also acts like a Wo Dao weapon. It’s kinda nuts.

I’ve seen some buzz talking about how Ryoma may just be the strongest Legendary Hero we’ve ever gotten, and I can’t say I disagree. I had expected a complete glass cannon based on his flying attribute, but those defenses don’t lie.

However, he isn’t the only thing available on this summoning banner. Also in the eight percent pool are:

Being blunt about it, the red stones are the only ones I truly care about in this pool of focus units.

Ryoma is obviously the chief goal, but Sigurd and Tiki are both solid options to summon for me as well. Both units are perpetual projects of merging that I tend to be working on, and both are frequently in use in my army. Plus, Tiki is about to get a new legendary weapon, so she’ll be even more fun to see in action.

Beyond that, I already have both the Legendary Nifl sisters and Legendary Grima — though I do find it interesting that Legendary Lyn is not on this banner given the fact that she’s the last one we saw implemented.

The Christmas and New Years units that are returning aren’t exactly my favorite either. I already have Azura and probably wouldn’t bother with anyone from the Christmas side but Tharja.

Though if they brought Tharja back she would be in three different summoning banners at the same time right now… So I can understand the restraint.

The non-special units, Hardin and Innes, just seem kind of random honestly. They’re both good of course, but not necessarily good enough for me to bother pulling them.

So that means we’re just sniping the red orbs fellas, where are those-

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… Oh I see.

Yeah that has been a bit of a pattern for me on this banner so far, just pulling singular red stones. In the case above, Ares was a cool compensation unit since I didn’t have him before, but beyond that I haven’t had a whole lot of luck.

This time I swear I’m going to keep my orb counter above 50, I won’t break that promise. There are still brides waiting in the wings for me somewhere, I hope.

That said, orbs are available through Ryoma’s legendary battle.

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Except if you’re going to try that, you should know it’s a little…

Intense.

The dude basically surrounds himself with long-ranged units so he can wear you down before coming in for the kill. I’ll admit that the map does a great job showcasing why Ryoma is so powerful, but boy that Infernal difficulty hurts when you need to get through so many waves of reinforcements.

Oh well. Even with the Tempest Trial cleaned out for me, hopefully I’ll be able to stock up on some more orbs somewhere or another.

Beyond that I don’t have too much more to say about this Legendary Lobster. What do you think about him? Is he too overpowered? Or just overpowered enough?

Let me know in the comments below, and while you’re at it let me know who you think the next Legendary Hero is going to be! I’m down to start taking bets.

Let’s Go, Pokémon!

Let’s Go, Pokémon!

I had a totally different post planned for tonight.

But you know what?

The Pokémon hype train is too. God. Damn. Real.

That’s right folks, we’ve got a brand new trailer for a brand new Pokémon game, and you know damn well it’s time for me to go back to my Sun & Moon lead-up days of deeply analyzing anything and everything I can get my hands on.

This is about to be a long piece picking apart each and every piece of the trailer that I can.

Hope you’re ready. Because I am.


Let’s Go, Pokémon!

So obviously the first thing to address when it comes to discussing the brand new upcoming games of Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee is the tie-in to the mobile app Pokémon GO.

I played Pokémon GO for a good long time, it’s actually a pretty key element to my summer the year it came out when I would use El Camino College as my walking ground for catching Pokémon.

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The game had plenty of gems like this!

However… The app didn’t have a whole lot of staying power.

It got stale rather fast for me, and there were things about the game that needed to be implemented that weren’t until it was too late.

I still haven’t gone back, even though they’ve officially started to release Pokémon from the third generation (my personal nostalgic favorite).

Where the trailer for Let’s Go begins, it seems as though they’re setting up this title to be almost like a port of Pokémon GO for the Nintendo Switch. Which, in all honesty, would make zero sense considering what the appeal is for GO.

But then as token young child sits down on the couch and Pikachu jumps into the television, all becomes clear:

Kanto.

Remake.

Even though the warning on the bottom left suggests that ‘game footage is not final,’ the intent is clear. That boy you’re watching on-screen is Red, the original protagonist. With a Pikachu on his shoulder. Standing in Professor Oak’s Pokémon Lab in Pallet Town.

As he runs off onto Route 1 and through what appears to be Viridian City in a few small snippets before the trailer splits to show Leaf (Red’s female counterpart from the Gen 3 remakes of Firered and Leafgreen) and an Eevee, already the comparisons are clear for me.

Graphically, Let’s Go looks to have the same, if not better, quality models and environments than Sun and Moon — which to be fair does make sense considering the jump from the 3DS to the Switch.

Yet in terms of style, the world appears to be built more in-line with the philosophy of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS). Ostensibly this makes sense considering Let’s Go is being billed as a remake of the original Pokémon Yellow.

Keep the core of the world alive but update what we can see and juice everything up.

And sure perhaps I’m putting too much stock into the initial glances we get based on this trailer alone, but the way everything has been updated does look gorgeous. Environments on par with Sun and Moon being utilized for a faithful world recreation ala ORAS is by no means a bad combination.

Oh, and there are fully animated cutscenes too, just like the few that appeared in Sun and Moon. I enjoyed those as well, so I hope they’re utilized properly.

Seriously though you look at Vermillion City in the brief shot they provide and tell me it doesn’t look just amazing.


Blending Gameplay

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

One of the reasons Pokémon GO got stale for me so quickly was because there really wasn’t a heck of a lot to keep me invested in catching Pokémon.

Yes I adore Pokémon as a series because the creatures are adorable and I wish I could have them in real life.

But I also adore Pokémon as a series because I’m one of those weirdos that actually enjoys the story and the characters.

Yeah that’s right, I play Pokémon for the story. Come at me.

Being an aspiring writer, the monster catching series was one of the earliest things that drew me to both the mediums of video games and writing. The plots of each of the seven generations of main series games are burned into my skull, and I can seriously throw down long diatribes explaining why I adore X character based on this line of dialogue they gave.

It’s that much of an obsession for me.

In that way Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee becomes a beautiful middle ground.

Granted, the Gen one titles of Red and Blue (plus Yellow technically, all things considered) are arguably my least favorite. I enjoy the spit out of Firered, but find myself less engaged in the world those games create than any of the others.

Despite that caveat, I do still enjoy the games and like the Kanto region for as classic and iconic as it is, so getting to revisit them is great. Especially considering those two remakes came out in 2004 and leave Kanto the only stand-alone generation not featured on the DS-forward.

The brilliance behind the marketing for Let’s Go comes off that point. This is the first time we’re getting a Pokémon game centered around the Kanto region, literally a remake of the first adventure as the trailer goes on to stipulate, since Pokémon GO was a mass phenomena and brought tons of people who played the original titles back into the fold.

Timing is everything, and I’ll be damned if that’s a coincidence.

But no, we know it can’t be a coincidence because Let’s Go is literally built with the same functionality as Pokémon GO.

The first of multiple different ways to interact with the game is through single joycon play. Literally you sit back with a joycon and play the game like it’s Pokémon.

But when you need to catch a random encounter, you chuck a Pokémon with the same minigame/spinoff style Pokémon GO offers. It’s just this time you literally throw like pitching a baseball rather than flicking your finger on the screen.

If that’s not a perfect way to not only utilize the functionality of the Nintendo Switch, but also bring the ‘catch Pokémon for real’ mentality of GO into contact with the story and immersive world of a mainstream Pokémon game, I don’t know what is.

It looks like there’s also probably a way to just hit A to throw as well, as I can already hear the complaints that this repetitive throwing will be too much.

Come on people, it’s Pokémon. Have some fun.


Multiplayer? In my Pokémon?

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

It’s more likely than you’d think.

Something iconic about the Pokémon series as a whole is its version splitting antics.

Whether you see multiple versions as a smart way to encourage kids to interact and spread a fervor for the game like wildfire, or whether you see it as a cheap cash grab that persists based on ‘tradition’ in a world where it has no place being there, you have to admit:

Playing Pokémon with a community of people is probably the core reason why it’s as popular as it is today.

The idea of the split versions has always had a particularly special place in my heart considering the fact that I have a younger sister. Going all the way back, I’d always buy both versions of a new generation so that I can play one while Aly plays the other.

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Just a piece of my Pokémon collection.

… Granted she tends to give up, which makes both versions my playing grounds to try out different things. But that’s a different story.

Pokémon Let’s Go is going to take that to a whole new level by allowing us to play the same Pokémon game at the same time using both joycons.

Honestly? That would be a selling point alone even if nothing else about this were true.

That multiplayer is somewhat limited from the looks of things, essentially allowing both players to run around freely on the same screen but not putting them on separate journeys.

Instead, the catching game becomes more of a co-operative experience where things like having the right timing together improves your chances of catching Pokémon.

The way multiplayer interacts with battle is a little funnier, as it seems like player two gains access to another member of your party so you both can fight at the same time.

While I can only imagine creating infinite two-on-one situations will make the journey relentlessly easy, I can’t help but relish the idea of reversing the terrible circumstances of Sun and Moon where enemy Pokémon called for help all the damn time.

A few other things I’d like to note in this section:

  • From the brief battle sequences we see, as well as whatever capturing is shown off, it appears like most every environment in the game will have an equally unique battle locale. Which is amazing and highly encouraged, hopefully beyond even what Sun and Moon offered.
  • Pokémon appear to roam wild as overworld sprites in Let’s Go. I can only hope this will be less of a gimmick-y ‘hey look who shows up here’ and more of a way to flesh out the living world, as obviously a game that’s going to be a Kanto remake with a complete battle system will also have random encounters to facilitate grinding for the Elite Four.
  • While I love the idea of multiplayer, it does currently leave me second guessing the possibility of this being a Pokémon game with full online functionality too. It seems like the focus is going to be solely on Kanto Pokémon, so will there be wi-fi battling and trading? It doesn’t seem like it, which may cut down the game’s longevity, but we’ll see when more information comes out.

New Toys for Kanto

Along with just using a single joycon, Nintendo is also going to be releasing a little Pokéball toy that can be used in place of the traditional controller as something to throw at wild encounters.

That seems to be the pattern for Pokémon games lately, releasing a gimmicky object alongside their titles. Remember the Z-Ring for Sun and Moon?
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I remember the Z-Ring for Sun and Moon.

This one seems cute but not necessarily something I’ll be chomping at the bit to go out and buy. Beyond that capture integration, the chief thing it seems a trainer can do with the Pokéball is bring Pikachu (or Eevee) along with you to make noises.

Sort of like the Pokéwalker that came with Heartgold and Soulsilver. Except also a controller.

But hey it does make cute noises. So… You can get beat up in school easier?

Dunno, my sister was awfully excited for this when I showed her the trailer, but I’m fairly ambivalent.

Also on display in this section of the trailer is Let’s Go’s functionality with Pokémon GO itself.

According to this tweet, the functionality purely extends to Kanto Pokémon — which is what leads to my trepidation from before about the existence of wi-fi connectivity acting as an extender for Let’s Go.

It also seems to me that the Pokémon you bring in from the real world will only be accessible through a special location, GO PARK.

I suppose it could be wonky to have to transfer things like stats between such totally different games, so I understand… But that is a shame.

Makes me feel slightly less apt to pick up Pokémon GO again to transfer my cool Pidgeot over. But we’ll see.


More, More, More!

There are a number of other things throughout the trailer that warrant discussion as well, but I’ll try to sum them up more quickly since this is already getting long in the tooth.

  • Red and Leaf ride a hell of a lot of Pokémon in the trailer. An Onyx, a Lapras and a Charizard at least. I can’t quite tell based on this trailer alone whether or not all Pokémon will have rideable functionality for something or another, or whether this replaces HMs similarly to Sun and Moon, but we’ll see. I hope it’s the latter.
  • Concurrent with the previous point, it seems as though every single Pokémon does at least have an overworld model programmed in-game. There are scenes where it appears as though they can follow you as well, such as the red-and-blue striped underground tunnel where two players are followed by Nidoking and Nidoqueen. Will full Pokémon following return from Heartgold and Soulsilver, even if just for Kanto Pokémon?
  • Eevee and Pikachu are customizable! The player character probably isn’t considering they’re supposed to stand in for Red and Leaf, and I don’t have a problem with that, but the fact that the game’s mascots can have outfits is too cute for words. I just hope they stay dressed up during battle!
  • Someone somewhere used Seismic Toss on a Magikarp for the trailer and that person deserves a raise.
  • Did I mention there are full cutscenes in the game? Well, one of those is the Mewtwo encounter. Player model appears to have more facial range than the Sun and Moon protagonist, so that’s again a plus for Let’s Go.

Concluding Thoughts

Okay, so there are one or two other things to touch on oh-so-briefly before wrapping this sucker.

First: Eevee’s voice.

Look. I get it Game Freak. Pikachu got special treatment starting in Gen six, where it started to say its name because mascot. It was cute and I get it.

Eevee didn’t need the same treatment, even though you’re trying to fill that same cute mascot niche. I’m not a huge fan of Eevee saying its name like in the trailer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m playing Let’s Go, Eevee all the way because Eevee is far superior to Pikachu in my opinion, but still.

Also at the end of the trailer was a tease to a brand new Pokémon being shown off somehow in-game. On Twitter, the Pokémon folks do confirm that this will be a 100 percent totally brand new Generation Eight Pokémon.

Because oh yeah by the way, new main series Pokémon title in 2019.

That’s another thing to get hyped about, but hype will wait for another day in that particular train’s engine.

For now we still need to get through November 16, 2018 when Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee will be released upon the world.

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m super duper excited for it. I was pretty burned out on Pokémon after the back-to-back release of Sun/Moon and their Ultra sequels, but this is a whole new adventure with tons of unique bells and whistles to get ready for.

I do hope after the 2019 games are released that Game Freak takes a bit of a break, both because it would be well-deserved and because fatigue may set on if they start to push out a big game every single year for too long.

Though Marvel’s been going strong for 10 years with the same philosophy and look where that has them. So who knows!

All I know is that despite trepidation for a few key points I’ve listed throughout this analysis, I’m excited for the Let’s Go Pokémon games all the same. It has probably pushed off Dark Souls as a major game to purchase for the console since I now need to save my money.

Sorry Dark Souls, we’ll have our day.

I’m also ready for more and more news to come out about the game in the coming months. How will the new character designs look? What sort of new things can we expect to be added into the game’s lore? Will Jesse and James appear as a part of Team Rocket like in the original Yellow?

Expect to see me blathering about it from now until November.

So, until the next news comes, tell me internet: What is YOUR opinion regarding these new Pokémon games? I’ll undoubtedly be seeking reactions on my own, but I’d like to know what the people who follow me think too.

My unpublished Comm 436 video game trend story

My unpublished Comm 436 video game trend story

One of my favorite classes this past semester was Communications 436: Entertainment Reporting, which was taught by OC Register reporter Paul Hodgins.

While his lectures were perhaps a little vaguely laid out for my tastes, that was readily made up for by the interesting auxiliary bits he included during each three-hour class period — namely the mock newsroom sessions where we were able to write-up pieces in short bursts of time and design fake newspapers/websites/etc.

It was just the kind of cool real-life skills practice I haven’t seen come out of too many classes that aren’t taught by the Daily Titan advisor, for example.

Bonnie loves using her classes to feed into the newspaper for content generation.

The other thing I really liked about Professor Hodgins’ class was the fact that it offered the opportunity to write about subjects I might not have gotten to otherwise — more Lifestyle reporting practice, for example.

One example of that was the weekly beat report based on video game news, something I’m still deciding whether or not I want to keep up in the long run.

Because video games were my beat for every facet of the class, I also got to write some genuine articles in a few different styles. Ironically, the news story I pulled together about violence in video games was the only one I got out in print. However, I am still working on a profile piece the class initiated that I’m hoping to put out next semester.

The only piece that I never had the intent to publish was a trend story regarding the rise of the ‘battle royale’ genre of gaming. My sources for the story were Kyle Bender and Jared Eprem, the Titan’s spring 2018 Editor-in-Chief and Sports Editor.

Yeah, not exactly sources to use for a story if I wanted it published as something unbiased and legit.

Despite that, I was proud of how this article as a whole shaped up considering its somewhat last-minute nature. Because of that, I didn’t want it to just rot away in my school desktop folder.

So I figure what better way to put it out there than using my personal blog! Just consider it a sample of how I can write about a different subject more than an actual professional piece.

This pre-write is a little long as is, so I’m going to cut the story itself under a read more. If you enjoy it, please let me know! I’m always open to any and all feedback I can get.

Continue reading “My unpublished Comm 436 video game trend story”

Bridal Heroes bring bouquets to battle once more

Bridal Heroes bring bouquets to battle once more

Hard to believe it has been an entire year since the first June Bride banner came out in Fire Emblem Heroes.

Even harder to believe that we’ve gone an entire year since then and Charlotte still hasn’t been released as a regular unit in-game, to be fair. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

Right off the bat, I will say I’m somewhat less enamored with the three new brides than I was with the first four — Cordelia, Charlotte, Caeda and Lyn. Obviously Tharja is a huge plus right off the bat, and I do like some of the skills these heroes are packing… But I may have given myself a case of high expectations this time around.

When the silhouettes teasing these heroes were released, I was dead-set on seeing Faye in the game.

Like sure, NOW we know that Faye isn’t here… But you can’t tell me the outline on the left doesn’t look remotely like her:

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Image courtesy of behindthevoiceactor.com

Based on the hair if it were not in ponytails, if nothing else.

Seriously, how great would it have been to see an Alm-obsessed Faye in-game doing imaginary wedding stuff?!

Okay I’m getting pretty weird right away with this one. Let’s just jump into examining the new heroes and see what they’ve got.


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NinianBright-Eyed Bride

  • Skill Set:Fresh Bouquet (Might = 12 / Range = 2)
      • At start of turn, if unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Speed +4 to ally and adjacent allies for one turn.
    • Dance (Range = 1)
      • Grants another action to target ally.
    • Chill Attack (B Skill)
      • At start of turn, inflicts Attack -7 on foe on the enemy team with the highest Attack through its next action.
    • Drive Speed (C Skill)
      • Grants Speed +3 to allies within two spaces during combat.
  • Analysis:I’ve seen lots of people getting very excited about Ninian more than anyone else on this special banner. Personally I don’t have quite as much of a connection to this manakete since I haven’t played her game, so I’m not very gung-ho about summoning her. Her skills are pretty sweet though, making her a nice supportive unit overall. She’s our second flying dancer, and though I’m more attached to Azura, a flying mage unit that also dances is a wonderful combination — especially when she can grant an ally +7 speed and neuter the opponent’s strongest attacking unit each turn. Ninian is probably my lowest priority, but I respect her.

SanakiApostle in White

  • Skill Set:Nifl Frostflowers ( Might = 14 /  Range = 2)
      • Grants Attack +3. During combat, boosts unit’s Attack and Speed by the number of allies within two spaces x2 (Maximum bonus of +6 to each stat).
    • Draw Back (Range = 1)
      • Unit moves one space away from target ally. Ally moves to unit’s previous space.
    • Attack/Resistance Bond (A Skill)
      • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Resistance +5 during combat.
    • Defense/Resistance Link (B Skill)
      • If a movement Assist skill (like Reposition, Shove, Pivot, etc.) is used by this unit or targets this unit, grants Defense and Resistance +6 to unit and target ally or unit and targeting ally for one turn.
  • Analysis:Compared to Ninian, I like Sanaki a lot. Even if I haven’t played the Radiant games either. She was one of my first five-star units in Heroes, and even though I don’t use her very often I quite enjoy throwing suns at people. Bridal Sanaki seems to be creating quite the controversy given that she’s… Something like 10 to 13 years old in canon, which is an issue I’m not really going to touch here. I’m mostly enjoying her appearance for the memes:

    As far as Sanaki the fighter goes, I do like her as a green flying mage better than Spring Camilla, another unit I barely use. Having a legendary weapon name-dropping Nifl is cool, though I prefer Tharja’s variant overall. However, Sanaki really shines thanks to her A and B skills, which grant huge buffs all around for using Reposition and other cool assist skills. I love that, and it’ll probably be worth getting her for it alone.

TharjaObsessive Bride

  • Skill Set:Múspell Fireposy (Might = 14 / Range = 2)
      • Grants Speed +3. During combat, boost unit’s Attack and Speed by number of allies within two spaces x2 (Maximum bonus of +6 to each stat).
    • Rally Attack/Speed (Range = 1)
      • Grants Attack and Speed +3 to target ally for one turn.
    • Attack/Speed Bond (A Skill)
      • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack/Speed +5 during combat.
    • Speed Feint (B Skill)
      • If a Rally Assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, inflicts Speed -7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.
  • Analysis:As usual, Tharja is my main squeeze in this new summoning banner. She was my main ship for Robin back in Awakening, and positivity exudes from her character for me as a result. Also no that isn’t just because she’s obvious porn-bait. Don’t pull that with me. Even if the punk-black wedding dress is something special…
    I may not have gotten Christmas Tharja to really kickstart a Tharja-only team, but I’m going to very much be going after her here. Alongside Ishtar, this red mage infantry girl could help pull together a solid secondary infantry-only team. Plus, as I mentioned in the Sanaki segment, I love the Múspell-varient of her main weapon better. Though that’s mostly just due to how it looks compared to the Nifl flowers. Attack and Speed Bond is also much better than Attack and Resistance Bond in my opinion… Though she lacks a little from the Speed Feint compared to Sanaki’s Link counterpart.

All the eagle-eye viewers in basically every household were also quick to point out that Marth is hiding away in the battle map screenshot at the end of the preview video as an axe-wielding cavalier with a weapon that looks way too big.

Intelligent Systems has confirmed that Marth will be coming as a free-to-play unit in the next Tempest Trials run, which means we’ve got until May 25 to prepare for his arrival.

While cavaliers out of Tempest Trials have never been all that impressive, there are very few axe users in that category, so I’m interested to see if Marth is someone special to look out for. Especially given:

  1. This is Marth’s first alternate release, which is surprising considering he’s essentially the mascot for the series. God knows I always used the hell out of him in Smash Bros.
  2. While it’s the first time Marth has gotten an alt, it’s also the first time (with a sample size of two, granted) that we’re getting a groom on the bridal banner. That’s pretty neat!

Based on his appearance in the story missions, it does seem like Marth could be a decent unit with the right stat spread. An axe that grants +4 Attack to himself and his allies, Drive Attack to boost his allies further, a dual rally skill, distant battle protection through a Special Attack and Wings of Mercy.

Not too terrible honestly!

But we can’t really say for sure until he’s actually released to the public. So let’s talk about something I can have some input on for now: My summoning luck.

Though actually I don’t have too much to say on that particular subject. I only started with 60 orbs today and didn’t want to fall too far below that, even with the 12 orbs from the story missions getting added onto that.

I didn’t summon anything special with that frugal offering. The only actual summon of any note was this cute little combination:

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Four-star Chrom and Robin coming in together.

Cute? Yes.

Useful? Well…

Not so much.

Oh well, at least we have an entire month to grab these special bridal heroes. Honestly I’d be pretty happy to get any of the three, so I’m not too concerned. I just don’t want to walk out empty-handed.

In the meantime, was the story that opened the door to 12 extra orbs worth paying attention to?


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I’m going to level with everybody here. It has been far too long since we’ve had something simple, quick and pleasant to deal with in terms of story in Fire Emblem Heroes.

As much as I’ve been digging the hardcore main story progression we’ve seen recently, a little bit of fun with a goofy Paralogue isn’t so bad here and there.

This one certainly starts off goofy enough:

This particular part of the exchange makes me laugh pretty hard, honestly. My friend Jonathan was desperate to see a bridal Anna show up on this banner after the Order of Heroes siblings came back as special units in the spring banner earlier this year.

But oh well, I suppose that just wasn’t in the cards.

Just like how it wasn’t in the cards for Anna to get her way and stay home without having to get gussied up for the June Bride shenanigans. That push mostly comes from Sharena, who seems to insist she has a friend she wants to help catch the special wedding bouquet that’s a prize for this seasonal competition.

More on that later, however.

First we have to deal with Marth, who surprisingly has a lot to say despite being a character who will not show up until May 25.

Cute callback to Caeda being on the last banner, honestly.

I can totally see myself pairing up the wedding Marth and Caeda once he’s released into the game. It’ll be beautiful!

But not as beautiful as the character he’s hanging out with in this first match.

Too creepy again? My apologies… I just love the design Tharja got in this seasonal alt. If my adoration for shiny Mega Gardevoir wasn’t enough of an indicator, I think black wedding dresses are hella cute.

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Image courtesy of Bulbapedia.net

… I’m just going to move on before people start accusing me of liking weird things.

What’s that? Bride Sanaki is next?

Dramatic irony, you are a cruel mistress.

Granted, I will admit Intelligent Systems is playing a little fast-and-loose with the whole young girl thinking about her “feminine charms” thing… But come on people. The whole vitriol surrounding this decision is ridiculous all the same.

Especially because she’s so darn cute about it when you finish the match.

She cute, let’s be real.

I’m also continuing to not do myself any favors in the sounding like a pedophilic creep department. So let’s move into the final battle.

As usual, all four heroes again come together to face off, hoping to win the special bouquet.

Also as usual, they’re pretty easy to dispatch.

The epilogue following that final battle brings about an… Interesting set of circumstances, I suppose.

Just as quick as she’s willing to drag my good name into this argument, Anna also tries to pull the rug out from what she perceives as Sharena just trying to do a fake “for a friend” argument to hide her own self-interest.

I can’t fully recall if the Sharena likes your character plot point was something especially relevant earlier in the Fire Emblem Heroes canon, but it did feel a bit out of left field getting thrown in here.

Especially because she ain’t wearing no wedding dress, Anna. Give her that sweet black dress and we’ll talk.

Man this can’t get much worse for me, can it?

At least Sharena gives some credit to Anna’s claim by acting so suspicious about it. The whole “I can’t say for who” thing is a pretty lame work-around after all.


All self-deprecating humor about creepy anime video game obsessions aside, I suppose I don’t have too much to complain about with this new summoning focus.

The units look rather strong and have nice designs.

The paralogue story is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of all the fast-paced main story missions recently.

Memes are abound with people afraid to touch the Sanaki jailbait.

Plus, most importantly of all, everything was short. Which means I get to go to bed at a decent time so I can get up for my Managing Editor job interview with the Daily Titan later today. All feels right in the world.

What do you think of the 2018 bridal units? Are you looking to put any of them on your registry? Or is this a reception you’d like to pass on?

Let me know in the comments down below!