Tag: Konami

On Fandango and Vive

On Fandango and Vive

I’ve been vaguely hyping this up for a while, so I’m excited to finally talk about it.

A few weeks ago I had a lovely conversation Paul Yanover, the President of Fandango. I put together a Spotlight all about his career path from being a software-writing USC graduate to heading one of the largest names in the movie/entertainment industry, and it’s one of my favorite pieces.

Not just because he’s a big, recognizable name to promote either — though that does help. Mostly because he had a lot of great advice for anyone interested in managerial positions.

For instance, we talked about his early years at The Walt Disney Company.

There he learned that he was better with interpersonal relations than programming, which led to him “making a positive difference” as an advocate for the animator clientele he and other engineers were serving.

He had a lot to say about the value of recognizing one’s emotional quotient as an indicator of leadership potential, while recommending those who aspire to lead teams make sure they practice working with diverse staff who learn in different ways.

At one point we even went off on tangents about the Dyson vacuum cleaner company and Mike Tyson, because that man loves to tell stories and anecdotes.

Even with all that condensed from a 4,000+ word interview to a 1,000-ish word story, there was plenty more I couldn’t include.

Such as the quote that made its way into my Featured Image!

All-and-all, Paul Yanover was a great conversationalist with some excellent advice. I’m happy I got a bit of his time, even if it meant rushing to my car after class so I could lock myself in a quiet place, as the interview had been rescheduled once already. And also working some extra photos through corporate HR departments.

As is the life of a soon-to-be-not-student journalist.

If you want to read the piece in full, check it out here.


Editor’s Note:

Full disclosure, the way I got an in for this interview was because my Dad passed my interest along as an employee at Fandango.

He had nothing to do with the process beyond that introduction. The closest he came to being involved was when Yanover suggested I sound like the old man over the phone.


But wait, that’s not all folks!

I haven’t had the chance to talk about this yet either, but a Spotlight I wrote about Jason Ray, Senior Content Producer at HTC Vive, also got published recently.

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Here he is being a total badass with some virtual reality gear. Because if you haven’t heard of Vive, it’s one of the more well-known virtual reality headsets on the market right now — a field that has been growing substantially (in gaming especially) for the last few years.

Jason Ray up there helps to create the games in said virtual reality, which is awesome.

I’m obviously more interested in the writing side, but I do have aspirations to work on video games. So getting to talk to someone in the industry was pretty cool.

Especially since he too has a long history of working with companies like Activision and Konami, which let him touch properties like Yu-Gi-Oh!

Obviously that’s one I care about in particular, even if Duel Links hasn’t been opened in a bit.

Ray also had some great things to say about working on teams, so it’s definitely worth a read! There’s going to be more coming from me on that subject down the line, so I won’t go too deep on the matter now.

If you want to check out the piece, it’s right over here for your viewing pleasure.

Both of these Spotlights will soon be among my blog-based collection of writings for Gladeo, as will a whole bunch of other Spotlights and Career Profiles I’ve been working on for the last couple months as part of my Comm Internship class.

Would’ve had more to show off today but a few of the Profiles were sent back for a couple of updates. Stuff I’m about to go work on, actually.

I’m sure I’ll write another post whenever those get through the pipeline.

So look forward to that when it happens!

What does that song sound like?

What does that song sound like?

Everyone’s had those moments where they hear a song — be it in the background of a T.V. show, on the radio or a restaurant backing track, or whatever it may be — and can’t quite put their finger on what that song is.

If you haven’t had that moment because you have a photographic memory or something… Well the I’m sorry to be leaving you behind with this topic.

I have those kinds of moments fairly often, as I am a fan of a range of music but am not necessarily an audiophile like my Dad and sister.

But I’m not here to talk about remembering specific songs.

Rather, I’d like to talk briefly about what I would consider a much less discussed but equally prominent concern: Identifying exactly what category it sounds like that song should belong in.

I don’t mean something like “pop song” versus “rock song” versus”country song,” or whatever the overall genre might be. This is specifically about those times where a song sounds like other songs you’ve heard before, but you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what that similar sound is.

Now. This is an odd conversation topic on my blog I’m sure, considering I don’t talk too often about the particulars of music. I tend to just stick to the generals of “my sister played a thing” if I do bring it up.

But in this case the context suggests that it’s not a thing my sister played, because she doesn’t play video games anymore.

Yeah I’m still on that bit, Aly

See recently Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links got a major update. A much-needed one for me, as I was starting to drift away from the game.

Until they added on the next generation, 5D’s, and a novel (for me) summoning style called Synchro summoning.

Learning a brand new way to duel has gotten me right back into the swing of things. Synchros offer up an interesting level of field management that Ritual monsters attempted to hit but couldn’t, as you need to have a specific “tuner” monster on the field alongside a specific number of stars to summon a Synchro monster.

So many of the cards being added as a result are interested in flooding the field with monsters and augmenting the number of stars on a monster, that way you can summon things with specific requirements. It’s just the kind of micromanaging that makes me love to do things like deck build.

Which… Who knows, I just might do again soon.

Look out for some Synchro deck profiles, possibly.

But for right now that’s off-topic. The only reason I gave all that context is to get to the point that a new season of the anime being added into the game also means new characters to play.

New characters means new battle tracks. One in particular has caught my ear so far:

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Meet Akiza Izinski. I know literally nothing about her because I never watched 5D’s.

But I do know that in Duel Links she has absolutely amazing battle music.

I have to say, as much as I like a wide range of music, video game soundtracks are definitely at the top of my list. I could go on-and-on about different songs I adore from various games.

In fact, I’ve been considering doing video game music posts around here. Just haven’t really had the time to hash out a specific style for it.

But Akiza’s theme here is a real prime example of the kind of tune I can just melt into.

The opening ten seconds or so has a plain single instrument rift that brings to mind N’s theme from Pokémon, or Moonstruck Blossom from Kirby Triple Deluxe.

Then the song continues to build until about 30 seconds in, when the real magic begins.

At that point, the piano is co-opted by some kind of Theremin-sounding track that gives everything a techno/haunted house feel.

Even when the Theremin bits disappear, the song keeps its haunting undertone despite somehow also bringing a lot of battle-ready energy to the table.

The song overall is just really well-done, and makes grinding for cards against Akiza a real pleasure.

My problem is, as much as I can (somewhat haphazardly) explain the emotions that this song elicits, it’s hard for me to place exactly what the song reminds me of. Because it definitely reminds me of SOMETHING.

There’s an air of the haunting melody underlying Lusamine’s battle theme from Pokémon, as one of the comments on that YouTube video I used mentions.

Haunting yet beautiful. Her chief gimmick appears to be monsters based on roses, so it’s an encapsulation that makes sense.

I also get some heavy Binding of Isaac vibes. Not sure why for that one. It just does.

Unfortunately though, part of the reason I wanted to write this is because I’m hard-pressed imagining what kind of other songs this song reminds me of.

So I wanted to throw it out to all of you.

Does this song bring any others to mind? What kind of comparisons would you make for it?

Let me know down in the comments, and while you’re at it let me know if you’re interested in seeing me write about video game music more!

I get very passionate about that particular breed, so I’m sure I could do it in a heartbeat.

Printers, Posters and Posh Interior Design

I know I said essentially the exact same thing about two days ago, but pardon me if this post is a little bit short or discombobulated.

We may not have been sniffing paint fumes this time around, but the family has been off on a nearly 12-hour journey across L.A. County doing chores and such. So I’m a bit tired and honestly just want to rest up considering I’m hanging out with the crowd again tomorrow and want some energy for that.

You’re not here to talk about tomorrow though, are you? Especially not when we have a Herculean tale for today.

Get out your maps if you’re interested in following along our route from the day.

We started relatively close to home in Manhattan Beach, first going to our family optometrist for my dad to get an eye exam. Also spent a good chunk of time in the surrounding mall buying sunglasses at the same time as I was doing some planning for future events.

Then we hit up a nearby Best Buy. We were picking up a new home printer we had ordered because our old one was ‘donated’ to the Redondo Union band program.

Aly’s the head librarian and has to make a lot of copies of sheet music, long story short.

While we were there I discovered this gem as I perused the video game section:

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Pretty disturbing how transparent his limbs are, huh?

Felt like that was worth sharing.

After finishing up there we got ourselves some lunch, then made our way to the Fandango office so my dad could follow-up on some work that was being done in the conference rooms there.

At first I imagined I might focus this blog post on that. Specifically all of the movie posters that I snapped some pictures of all around the office while he was testing the technology.

Because they have some pretty unique, awesome movie posters. Check some of these out:

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Pretty cool stuff, right?

Of course I also considered writing something related to my own work since I was expecting to hear back about my application to the Honors Student Advisory Council at Cal State Fullerton today.

But when I did it turned out to be a no. So… Figured I didn’t want a blog post that was a total downer about that.

There was even briefly a thought running through my head that I could offset the general negativity of that idea by countering it with this neat, little milestone I happened to hit this morning:

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But uhh… Subjectively I figured 500 basically consecutive days of playing a mobile gotcha game could also be considered pretty sad as an ‘accomplishment.’

So I tabled that idea.

Soon enough a perfect opportunity for a blog post came along, however.

A little store known simply as

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By little, of course, I mean the exact opposite of little. Because anyone who has ever been to the Swedish furniture chain should know that Ikea stores are god damn gigantic.

Yet this particular store takes that idea to the nth degree. The Burbank Ikea is the largest one in the United States, you see. Big enough to be seen from space, as my mom quipped.

Can’t really argue with that sentiment, honestly. From the ground it took us probably four, four-and-a-half hours to make our way through the labyrinth of ridiculously named decor.

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The “map” here straight up looks like a subway system.

In fact, that whole adventure would probably be a little too long to enumerate in the order of how we did things. So I’m going to cop-out by just throwing together a slideshow of pictures here.

For anyone who’s curious about what it looks like in the absolute epitome of capitalism of course.

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Boy howdy that’s about a sixth of a day of furniture, ain’t it?

Luckily even when we got tired and my legs felt ready to collapse we were still having a good time.

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Seriously there’s few things as fun as a random thing to do with some friends than wandering an Ikea. In case you want something to do sometime soon.

Plus, even though we didn’t get all of the new furniture to fit into Aly’s refurbished room today, we still got a bunch of nice household stuff. Like some pillows that we desperately needed.

Or that we will desperately need after such a long day out, I suppose.

I also made a very interesting little observation while we were there. See as you can imagine for a store the size of a small country that has replicas of households built within it, all segmented into various kinds of applications throughout a maze, Ikea needed a way to direct the mass exodus of people.

From what I recall growing up, that goal was mostly accomplished by taping or painting arrows on the floor. That much hasn’t changed:

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Except that’s not tape. Nor is it paint.

That arrow is courtesy of a digital projector.

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At first I was confused about the whole thing. It seems like it would be far less expensive to use tape rather than installing all of these projectors throughout the store. There are a lot of arrows, as I’m sure you can imagine.

But then I thought about it and realized that there’s also some merit to the long-term staying power of projectors versus something like tape.

People are constantly walking throughout that store. Thousands, probably. Day-in and day-out. Seven days a week.

That’s got to wear on physical markings pretty considerably. Enough so that tape or paint might have to be re-applied every other day just to keep the information fresh.

With a projector you don’t have to worry about that. So long as the tech is working, you never have to worry about the arrows washing away under a sea of feet.

I kind of came around in my own head to recognize how good of a long-lasting idea it is to do this, is what I’m saying.

Bet you didn’t think you’d be reading a blog post that said ‘sea of feet’ in it today, did you?

Well I did it. Which likely marks this portion off as a good place to end things off.

I didn’t really have a solid idea of exactly what I wanted to write about today, so thanks for making it this far into my roadmap of our long day of chores. It seemed like as good of a stand-in for content as I could imagine.

So with that said, I’m off to go play some video games before bed. Hope you all have a good day/night/whatever it may be in your time zone!

‘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.

 

The True Cost of a Shadow Game — Gaming Economies

The True Cost of a Shadow Game — Gaming Economies

I’ve wanted to write something on this topic for some time now, and after I declared Duel Links my favorite game of 2017 I figure it’s as good a time as ever to do something with the game. As strange as it sounds when mentioning that I’ll be talking about a nostalgic anime-based card game simulator, Duel Links in particular has piqued my interest regarding the different versions of in-game economies utilized by microtransaction-based games.

I can actually pinpoint exactly when I decided I was interested in delving into this topic. It was on October 23, when I took this screenshot of exactly what inspired me:

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For those of you who don’t play Duel Links and don’t understand exactly what this shows, I’ll elaborate on the subject in stages to give everyone a full understanding.

The main economy in Duel Links is based on gems. They are arguably the most valuable collectible in the game because you use them to purchase packs of cards from boxes.


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What are Card Boxes?

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a card game with a long, long history and easily hundreds of thousands of cards in its overall catalog. These cards are released in boxes that often correspond to one theme or another, and those themes can contain a variety of cards that fit together in closer-knit groups called archetypes.

As an easy example, a card pack that’s themed around Spellcasters might contain a number of monsters, spells or traps that support the Dark Magician archetype (made popular by the headlining character of the original anime series).

The mobile game Duel Links works in the same way, with Konami releasing boxes of cards at least once a month to try and catch up to the amount available in the real life trading card game. These boxes switch off on each release between a full box and a mini box. They are headlined by one monster that tends to have the most additional support in the pack. However, in full packs especially there are often a number of archetypes given support.

Servant of Kings was the seventh mini box in the game and one of 17 available as of December 31. It features Dark Magician of Chaos, which ties into the Dark Magician archetype I mentioned earlier, but beyond that frankly has a much more eclectic range of supportive cards than most mini boxes do.

With that general game context out of the way, now I can delve into the economy itself.

When buying card boxes, gems are your best friend.


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How are gems utilized?

The two kinds of boxes in Duel Links are similar but ultimately different animals.

~ In a single main box, there are 600 cards available which are split into 200 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:

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Cards from the “Galactic Origin” Main Box
  • 10 cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
  • 24 cards are “Super Rare” with two of each kind of SR card available
  • 192 cards are “Rare” with six of each kind of R card available
  • 374 cards are “Not Rare” with eight or nine of each kind of N card available
  • Regardless of rarity, there are 100 unique cards to get in the box.

~ In a single mini box, there are 240 cards available which are split into 80 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:

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Cards from the “Echoes of Silence” Mini Box
  • Two cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
  • Eight cards are “Super Rare” with one of each kind of SR card available
  • 70 cards are “Rare” with five of each kind of R card available
  • 160 cards are “Not Rare” with 10 of each kind of N card available
  • Regardless of rarity, there are 40 unique cards to get in the box.

Each individual pack contains three cards and can be purchased for 50 gems. A single pack purchase is always available to players, but as more gems are collected a larger collective buying option becomes available.

By that, I don’t mean you get a discount for larger purchases. Purchasing discounts are exclusive to spending real money on cards.

Rather, you simply get to do larger pack opening sessions the more gems you have. When you have 100 gems you can open two packs at a time, when you have 150 gems you can open three packs at a time, and so on. There’s a cap at 10 packs, which costs 500 gems.

In one sense, it seems strange to cap things off there. Yet 10 packs is a perfect place to cap things off because it breaks down the boxes in a digestible way.

Under the way this system has been set up, 500 gems becomes a recognizable baseline that players (or at least that I) aim for before opening packs.

By waiting to get to 500 gems before buying, the 600 cards in a main box are distilled into 24 pack opening sessions and the 240 cards in a mini box are distilled into eight pack opening sessions. That kind of bite-sized dividing is very clever because it gives players a goal to work up to and makes an intimidatingly large task into an easier, far more enjoyable series of tasks.

After all, it’s much more of an accomplishable idea to collect 500 gems eight or 24 times than it is to collect 4,000 gems for a full mini box or 12,000 gems for a full main box. Add onto that the graphical interface involved with each pack opening and you get that small scale addicting purchase system mobile games like this are known for.

That said, I haven’t even mentioning the fact that every box, in theory, should be opened three times.

In Duel Links, the deck you can build based on the cards you collect are limited.

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There’s a maximum of 30 cards usable per deck (with five extra deck cards for fusion monsters), and you can only have three of a given card in each deck – with the exception of a few cards that are on a limited list, of course.

When you start a duel, each player’s deck is shuffled and four cards are drawn. As a result, a deck should be built to offer the greatest odds of having cards that are needed to win in an opening hand.

As the game’s metagame had come to dictate, that means decks typically stick to the minimum 20 card requirement and have two-to-three copies of the important cards.

So, if you want those three copies of the ever-present Super Rare card Wall of Disruption in your deck, you need to reset the “Servants of Kings” mini box three times, since each box only has one copy. If that Super Rare is the last card you pull in all three of those boxes by sheer dumb luck, you’ll have to spend 12,000 gems in all.

Of course that also means it might not take every pack in the box to get all of the Super Rare and Ultra Rare cards, you could get them all right when you start opening packs for a given box.

That’s where I cycle back to what inspired me to do this post in the first place.

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In this run at the “Servants of Kings” box, I wound up having to spend exactly 4,000 gems to clean out everything because one of the two Ultra Rare cards was the last one I needed. Instead of getting a veritable bargain of 3,950 gems, I got stuck with full price.

Something about that really got into my head, and I decided to analyze this economic system after getting stuck in that position. I find that overall Duel Links has a far more reasonable economy in place than most mobile games, despite the fact that this project’s inspiration began with my being screwed over.


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How can you collect gems?

There are many ways to collect gems in Duel Links, and I would argue one of the best aspects of the game is the fact that there are certain means of collection that are limitless.

The chief means of collecting gems is leveling up.

Players advance through a series of stages in the game, with multiple missions offering challenges that impede advancement. These missions always include one that provides gems for completing every other challenge in a stage.

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However, the biggest collection of gems come from leveling up Legendary Duelist characters.

There is currently a level 40 cap on these characters (which has the potential to increase). As they advance through these levels players gain access to multiple rewards, including new cards and skills to fit that character or related archetypes, multiple concurrent deck building options for the character and gems.

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Levels 28 through 30 are the most satisfying when it comes to gem collecting.

All together, each character can gross 2,290 gems by leveling up to 40. With the recent additions of Bonz and Arcana as playable Legendary Duelists, there are 25 characters available in Duel Links.

Thus, you can get a grand total of 57,250 gems by leveling up each character to the max. Plus a couple dozen extra gems from overall player missions that additionally reward leveling up these characters.

While this is the primary pool of gems available in Duel Links, at the end it amounts to the equivalent of completely buying out four mini boxes if a player wants three copies of the Super and Ultra Rare cards.

In hindsight, not necessarily the most lucrative deal in a game with eight mini boxes and nine main boxes, with more being released about once a month.

Luckily, more characters are released fairly regularly and there are plenty of other gem deposits available to cash in on.

One of the more valuable but less consistent sources of gems are special giveaways for holidays, in-game events, the release of a new box and compensation for mistakes Konami has made (such as the game going offline unexpectedly).

 

A cache of gems also becomes available every month when the Ranked Dueling arena resets.

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As you play against other duelists around the world, you can get gems through ranking up and as rewards for reaching a certain amount of wins in a season. In fact, once you get the final displayed reward at 120 victories, every couple dozen victories will also give you 30 gems at a pop.

Similarly, a number of gems become available as periodic score-based rewards during things like Duel-A-Thons, Duelist Chronicles or limited time character unlocking events.

 

Beyond that, there are three “daily” small sources of gems to make use of.

I use daily in quotes because technically only one of these sources is a truly daily activity. That activity is watching a random duel recording from a match between two other players.

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Learn all the fanciest Player-versus-Player duel strategies from this fancy television box on the PvP Arena screen.

The other sources are technically daily but with some technicalities.

In the Duel School, players can take on a duel with a borrowed deck once a day that offers a random reward. On occasion, that reward is three gems:

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The other rewards this challenge cycles through includes 20 general keys, seven colored keys and 5,000 gold (easily the most useful of the three).

Not a lot, but it’s something.

As an added note, the Duel School also opens a few missions allowing players to practice new strategies available when a new purchasable card box opens.

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The new card box challenges include full duels with loaner decks and limited turn tests meant to show off specific combinations of cards.

The third “daily” source of gems is tapping environmental features on each screen of the overworld.

 

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  • The fountain next to the Legendary Duelist gate
  • The lanterns in front of the PvP Arena
  • The hologram card on top of the Shop
  • The trash can in front of the Card Studio

As an added note, the pictures I’ve displayed are from the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX world. The objects I mentioned are exactly the same in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! world.

These four can be activated at least once a day to get between one and five gems each, with the objects refreshing multiple times a day. That means if someone is lucky they can get 20 gems in a shot throughout the day.

Fair warning, however, more often than not each object only gives one gem at a time.

What really makes the system of gem collection in Duel Links special, however, is the fact that farming Legendary Duelists at the Gate offers an infinite source of potential gems.

When you spend a certain amount of keys collected by dueling Standard Duelists, you can battle one of the Legendary Duelist characters from the first two anime series. Duking it out with these higher level Duelists has a random chance of providing players with boxes of five, 10 or 15 gems a pop in their eight potential assessment rewards.

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The chance of getting gems is increased when considering the fact that bonus gems are rewarded in place of a skill that had already been unlocked.

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Even if this kind of gem earning is considerably more tedious than something like leveling up a character for large stipends, as I mentioned before one can battle Legendary Duelists as often as they want so long as they have the keys to spare.

Trust me, after a fair amount of time has been invested in the game, keys are no longer a concern.

If a player desires, they can grind up gems infinitely between taking on Legendary Duelists and Ranked Duels. When that idea meshes with the finite amount of collectibles available in Duel Links at one time, the true genius of the system shines through.

While nobody will likely ever collect every box-purchasable card through grinding alone because of how long it would take, it’s entirely possible to do so. The goal is achievable because you’re guaranteed to get everything in a given box eventually.

It’s way different than the system in other free-to-play mobile titles where random number generation applies to what you get at one time during a purchase, but the amount of options that random generation chooses between stays in a large pool each time.


Currently, this kind of system where I can consistently set goals and earn my way up to them in bits at a time is my absolute favorite form of microtransaction-based gaming because when I do feel frustrated seeing this:

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Recurring through-line for the win.

I’ll always know that I’m guaranteed to get that Man-Eater Bug in my next purchase no matter what. Then, once I have all three of them in my collection, I never have to look at that particular box ever again.

In my head, that’s a real, tangible sense of accomplishment.

Plus, let’s not forget that even if you don’t want to spend any gems, you can get tons of cards through Legendary Duelists, leveling up characters and through special events. These cards can either stand on their own or support card archetypes in certain boxes, so a player can pick and choose what boxes they want to buy from to build the decks they want.

I don’t throw the term around that often, but it’s a fairly genius way to handle things in my opinion.

Even if Konami releases card boxes a bit too frequently to make total purchase completion an achievable goal in a set timeframe without potentially spending some money anyway.

As one final note for any players curious about jumping into Duel Links: Do not ever look at the incessant phishing offers in the global chats.

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Those are always scams. End of story.

Based on this (I believe fairly comprehensive) guide I’ve put together on the economy of Duel Links, what do you think of the system they’ve put together?

In your opinion, are there other games that do the microtransaction push more fairly for players?

This kind of analysis is a longer project that I’m interested in delving into for other games as well, so if you enjoyed the post or have suggestions for how to make it better, please feel free to let me know!

Let’s talk about this Duelist Kingdom event

Let’s talk about this Duelist Kingdom event

Its been a while since I gave my other mobile gaming obsession any love around here. While I still play Duel Links just about every day, nothing particularly exciting tends to go on in the day-to-day breadth of the game besides the occasional new/returning  duelist unlock events and traveling duelist events.

Until today, when we gained access to the “Set Sail for The Kingdom: Duelist Chronicles” event. This one is pretty special and cool, so I wanted to give it some praise in the hopes that we see similar events down the line.

Now for those of you who do not play Duel Links, there are two kinds major events that take place on a semi-regular basis.

  1. New Legendary Duelist unlock events: Once in a while a new Legendary Duelist character will take over Duel World, the hub area for Duel Links. That character will invite players to collect an item specific to their personality or canonical storyline in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime in bulk. These items can be traded for the chance to battle that character at various difficulty levels to accumulate points and win special prize cards. The points typically go toward earning players a variety of basic rewards like gold and gems for pack openings, but the points also unlock the character you’ve been battling at a certain level.
  2. Traveling Duelist events: Though these are generally more hated than the Legendary Duelist unlock events, traveling duelists are a pretty common way to shake up what players can find in the game for at least a week at a time. Unlike the new Legendary Duelists who reside in the hub world’s character portal, traveling duelists appear randomly in the world similar to the extra reward-granting Vagabond. The main problems most people have with these events are that the characters have a random chance to appear, but they also have a random chance to drop their exclusive cards, making it hard to get a good amount of special cards one might want. Plus, they appear in Duel World at a random difficulty level, meaning if you get a lv. 30 encounter as opposed to a lv. 40 encounter you have an even further decreased chance to get a special card drop.
    • For example:
      • Mokuba Kaiba drops cards that support dragon decks in general, though he specifically provides support for Blue-Eyes White Dragon and gives players access to special high-level cards like Darkflare Dragon and Frost and Flame Dragon.
      • Arcana made a pass as a traveling duelist in the build-up to Yami Marik appearing in Duel World. He added some spellcaster support to the game, namely around Dark Magician (a card which he had a special alternate art for).
      • Joey Wheeler occasionally goes through cycles as “Super Joey” and gives players access to support cards for Red-Eyes Black Dragon, such as Red-Eyes Spirit and Red-Eyes Insight.
      • Mai Valentine has appeared once in an event similar to Super Joey’s as “Elegant Mai” with card drops to support her token Harpie and Amazoness decks on top of Vennu, Bright Bird of Divinity, a powerful ritual card.

Though both of these reoccurring event-types do provide some variety and reason to keep playing the game, they do tend to get stale over time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always jump at the chance to get extra materials and new cards, but the RNG associated with these time sensitive events – particularly the traveling duelists – almost makes them more annoying than appreciated.

Not that saying so stops me from playing them adamantly of course.

So, what does the Duelist Kingdom event do differently?

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It all starts in the hub world.

While every Legendary Duelist unlock event adds a big aesthetic centerpiece to the main hub world, this ship actually serves more of a purpose than simply bringing up the event’s informational page. This ship actually delivers you to a mini-game within the game, something that can best be described as a Yu-Gi-Oh! anime-themed board game.

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The board game itself is simple. As you defeat standard duelists in Duel World, you receive dice fragments. Seven dice fragments can be used to roll a die labeled one to three. The number you land on indicates the number of spaces you can move on the map, and each space hosts a different event:

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Item Spaces give players prizes such as gems, gold or gate keys.

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Support Item Spaces dole out a special die that specifically allows players to move one, two or three spaces at a time of their choosing without having to waste dice fragments.

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Coin Spaces give out “Millennium Coins,” which I’ll elaborate more on in just a bit.

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Forward Spaces move you forward by the number specified alongside the symbol, simply enough. There is also an equivalent Back Space that does the same thing but backwards.

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Episode Spaces play out scenes from the anime using the in-game engine of portraits talking to each other. There are 10 scenes to see through this method, and you get an additional small prize after each viewing.

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Standard Duelist Spaces let you duel a regular duelist to obtain some Millennium Coins. The difficulty of these fights increases as you move through the game mode and they appear to have new, unique decks for each fight.

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The Vagabond Spaces offer more challenging duels against real player-generated decks. Even if you lose these fights, you still earn Millennium Coins.

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Legendary Duelist Spaces are story-driven battles that prevent you from advancing until you win a duel. These spaces allow you to choose to fight at lv. 20 difficulty or at lv. 40 difficulty.

Part of the reason these Legendary Duelist encounters – and the event as a whole by extension – are so special ties back to how they present a story. Advancing through the event actually plays out the events of the Duelist Kingdom arc in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime. In a sense, this allows you to play along with the original story using characters that have been introduced into the game over some time now.

Duelist Kingdom is probably the only arc in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime that I personally remember fondly, and it is arguably a memory that has kept me interested in the card game for all this time. Thus, it feels pretty special for me to experience, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has that connection.

While playing through the storyline by itself is already a really cool feature, the way Konami engrains the story into the actual duels against these Legendary Duelists makes everything even better.

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Not only do these Legendary Duelists appear on a series of maps in the order they’re originally encountered, they have pretty unique decks that can be as challenging as a competitive player-vs-player deck.

However, rather than letting players get away with using their most overpowered decks to blow through the competition, Konami made it so you benefit by experimenting with different deck combinations that you might not otherwise try.

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The extra missions associated with each duel net additional Millennium Coins if you follow the guidelines. These guidelines contribute to the feeling of playing along with the original story by encouraging you to use the character and some of their key cards that were used against the opponent. Though doing so often leaves you at a disadvantage when playing at the lv. 40 difficulty, the reward for doing so is worth it.

Speaking of said rewards, I suppose it’s time to dive into Millennium Coins.

Though these coins are arguably the most important thing to collect in the Duelist Chronicles, what they do is actually rather simple. For every 30 coins you collect you get the opportunity to play the Card Lottery and earn up to 10 rewards at a time from a large prize pool.

While gems and gold are always fine prizes in their own rights, the main draw to this system is the cards you can collect. Though there are some basic cards like Celtic Guardian, more rare and dope cards like Kuriboh, Toon Barrel Dragon, Horn of the Unicorn and Union Attack are also available.

Just about all of the cards are recognizable for anyone who has fond memories of the series and Duelist Kingdom in particular, so it’s a nice goal to work toward.

On top of the card lottery, you also win prizes by clearing maps. When you beat one of the five maps you get something, and once you complete the final level you get to start over and earn a whole new set of rewards.

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The most noteworthy of these zone rewards comes when you beat Pegasus for the first time: You unlock Yugi Muto as a playable character.

Once delegated to only being a traveling duelist, Yugi Muto has been requested to be playable by countless players in the past. After all, he is the main character of the show, even if most people remember his Yami form better. Plus, with a new character comes a fairly substantial influx of special cards and gems through level up rewards, which are always an appreciated addition to the game.

The fact that this event doubles as a character unlock event while bringing something completely new to the table through a special board game makes it easily the best thing I’ve seen added to Duel Links in a long time. It’s fun, it’s creative and there are enough prizes to keep players coming back, or even encourage them to use those stockpiles of duel orbs to restore standard duelist battles for more dice fragments.

Personally, I hope more Duelist Chronicles happen from here on out. If nothing else I would love to be able to have the same experience with parts of Yu-Gi-Oh! that I don’t remember that well so I can learn more while having a good time.

After all, is there anything better than that?

My night at the beach… Sort of.

My night at the beach… Sort of.

To be fair, this is beach-themed. It’s beach-themed and I am writing this in the late hours of the night (or morning if you want to get technical).

So… I’m going to count this as one of my trips to the beach this summer. Even though it’s really just me playing more video games. Because you can’t really video games at the beach, now can you?

Oh wait, I did do that last year… Never mind.

Anyway, dumb attempt at a clever opening monologue aside, welcome to my regularly scheduled big Fire Emblem Heroes update. I’ve actually been fairly busy the last few days doing some work for my internship (hopefully some Gladeo stuff should be coming around in the next couple of days for me to talk about), so I haven’t been able to update everything as I’ve been going.

Figured I would update it all in one fell swoop, all under the banner of this strange, strange special character addition.

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That’s right folks, if June was the month of the brides, July is the month of summer fun for the colorful cast of Fire Emblem characters… From Ylisse. Because apparently only the Ylissians get nice things like summer vacations.

Now, just who do we have filling out our roster of summer-themed heroes?

  • Robin (female): Seaside Tactician
    • Can’t have a collection of heroes from Fire Emblem Awakening without including Chrom, Lucina or Robin somewhere in the mix. Lucina’s gotten more than enough love in the time Heroes has existed, so I’m glad to see Robin finally getting some more time in the sun. And no, not because she’s scantily clad and running around spearing seafood. Not strictly, at least.
  • Frederick: Horizon Watcher
    • Never did I ever think I would see this great Ylissian knight don casual clothing, hit the beach with his friends and chuck seashells at people. Seriously. The guy that usually flattens enemies with his horse and impales those who do disservices to his lords chucks seashells at people. Easily the best character added solely for how strange he is, and that’s saying something considering…
  • Tiki: Summering Scion
    • Have you ever wanted to see an eons-old half-dragon of divinity with a pension for feeling heartbroken about the deaths of her friends in the hundreds of years she hibernated decide to smack a watermelon with a stick and use the combined items as an axe? No? Well have this anyway.
  • Gaius: Thief Exposed
    • Besides the fact that “Thief Exposed” is a ridiculous name to bestow upon anything in this context, I don’t have a lot of things to make fun of with old Gaius here. In fact, if there was anyone on this list I would want, it’s him. Not only does he get the skills Vantage AND Astra, but he also shoots the blue ice cream pops from Kingdom Hearts at people. It’s pretty dope.

I’m sure you know exactly what’s coming next at this point.

 

 

New heroes equals new paralogue. New paralogue equals three new missions. Three new missions equals nine new orbs, plus an extra three for included special missions. The return of two orbs daily. Rinse and repeat, as usual.

Oh, but this time they also included an extra event to get us some boosted Skill Points for playing over the weekends.

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So that’s pretty cool.

In case it wasn’t all that obvious, I don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time on this like I usually do. As much as I love writing far too much about a relatively small amount of content with this game, it is already pretty late and I have some stuff going on tomorrow. However, the writing in this game never ceases to amaze me with how bizarre it is.

If you thought things got weird when the girls of the game were wandering around in wedding dresses… Well…

 

 

Surprisingly, talking about liberation from one’s clothing isn’t even the weirdest thing Anna talks about in this miniature storyline. It actually gets much, much creepier from there.

To sum it up really quick, you and the rest of your colleagues from the Order of Heroes decide to go to a beach in Ylisse to relax for the summer. However, Anna has ulterior motives with the casually dressed heroes under contract with Emblia to defend the beach.

 

 

 

She basically wants to take the four new special heroes and use them to make her own Playboy-esque pictures to sell so she can help fund the army.

I’ve had a couple of hours to stew it over and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this plot point.

However, it just about goes how you would expect. You fight a few maps, Anna fails to get any of her pictures, she actually winds up losing money thanks to a letter from an alternative version of herself and everyone fills her in on the value of spending the summertime making friends and relaxing rather than dwelling over money.

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Seriously this game has more Hallmark card morals than Hallmark cards as far as I can tell.

The “lore” for this event doesn’t get much deeper than this, so that’s really all I have to say on that matter. Except that getting through this event makes me feel like like the writers for this game are trying to send a message that they could probably stand for a “liberating vacation” of their own.

The map environments are quite pretty however, I have to say:

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It’s obviously hard to tell with a still image, but the water flows back and forth with a little bit of froth. It’s really nice.

With the summer beach fun out of the way, let’s get into a little lightning round for all the other updates in my games I’ve neglected, big and small.


Clarisse Arrives

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My upset rantings from a couple of weeks ago were once again proven to be obsolete as we received the second boss character from the recent Mystery of the Emblem Paralogue  through a special map. I updated that post when the first character came through, so I figured I would update that post again with this little blurb here.

Otherwise, don’t have much to say about this. I like the character, she seems cool and I got a three star version of her. However, with my current collection of heroes, I’m not having much luck at the harder difficulties for her mission.


The latest Voting Gauntlet: Battle between the ladies of the cloth

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Admittedly I’m not super invested in this voting gauntlet. Because healers aren’t prominent or even necessarily good to battle with in this format, you don’t see the headlining characters strongly supported in the battles at hand with this gauntlet.

I suppose there’s an argument to be made for having a balanced cast to prevent any unfair match ups (experiences like Ephraim vs. Eirika one time do come to mind), but when people aren’t using the characters featured it makes it harder to feel invested in the team support. At least in my opinion.

However, I have been supporting my teams all the same. I started with Sakura, the best younger sister from Fates… But she swiftly got beat by Elise. Guess people didn’t agree with me, but at least I can take solace in the fact that people can have their own opinions… They just can’t make up their own facts. So my opinion still stands.

Anyway, now I’m supporting Lissa from Awakening in the fight against Priscilla from the Radiant series. Whether I win or not, at least I know… Everyone who plays gets tons of rewards at the end.

Rewards are good.


Champion of Valentia

 

In other non-Heroes related Fire Emblem news, I finally beat the main story in Fire Emblem Echoes over this last week! It was a long time coming, as I’d been putting it off for quite a while due to other things, but I certainly don’t regret a moment of it.

Seriously, Echoes has easily skyrocketed to being one of my favorite Fire Emblem titles over the time I’ve played it. The characters are wonderful, the story is engaging, the graphics are easily characteristic and exemplary of all the advancements made in the Fire Emblem series in recent years and dungeons are simply wonderful.

I sincerely hope that the popularity of this game encourages the return of similar first-person dungeon exploration in future titles. I would understand if they want to keep it unique to Gaiden and its remake, but in my opinion they would be remiss to not capitalize on how fun the mechanic is.

There are also a striking amount of similarities between this game and the Sacred Stones from my point of view. That added some extra investment personally, as it reminded me of my favorite game in the series. Plus, on top of that, I eventually realized that Valentia is the ancient equivalent of Valm from Fire Emblem Awakening, much like Archanea is the ancient equivalent of Ylisse. Seeing that kind of world building across generations is always phenomenal.

I do have my problems with the game, however. There’s a certain element of “keeping to tradition” with Echoes in terms of its character interactions that I can respect… But disagree with at heart. If you want to keep the original support system from Gaiden and keep the canonical relationships canonical, that’s fine. In fact, I quite enjoy most of the canon in-game relationships. Alm and Celica, Gray and Clair, Clive and Mathilda, Mae and Boey, so on and so forth. They’re great.

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But for this being a modern Fire Emblem game… They really aren’t enough.

Particularly on the coattails of Fire Emblem Fates, which gave you the chance to essentially learn about, befriend and create your own relationships between two complete armies and their children, Fire Emblem Echoes was sorely lacking.

All of the characters I would love to see have more development essentially don’t. This lack of development is almost uncomfortably disappointing, as many obvious options for connections to at least talk are simply missing. For example, many of the initial villagers from Alm’s route can’t talk with one another despite being childhood friends. Genny, the little sister surrogate from Celica’s route, can’t talk with Celica or any of the other people she starts the journey with. Or, in fact, anyone besides Sonya from later on in the story.

I could go on and on. Saber should be able to talk with Celica, Delthea should be able to talk with Clive, Silque should be able to talk with Jesse. Most of these names are just garbled nonsense to people who haven’t played the game, but trust me. They have hinted relationships through different outlets that get unfortunately ignored by the lack of support conversations.

Again, I can appreciate sticking to conventional things and keeping canonical relationships alive. But if you’re going to revamp a game, to the point where entire characters are added and given integral parts of the story (Editor’s Note: Love you Berkut <3), the least you could do is add extra conversations into the game that I would assume aren’t entirely too hard to implement.

But I digress, as I’ve already probably talked about this game far too much in this unconventional space as is. Time to move on, shall we?


Yami Bakura is a dick

 

Enough said.

In actually non-Fire Emblem related news… I love this character and I love the event he comes with in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. The blood red sky full of eyes and mouths are rad, and when I first started playing the game this event was happening the first time, so it comes with a certain amount of nostalgia as I see how much further I’ve come.

However, dueling him is way too god damn hard thanks to a mechanic he abuses that ends the match within five turns, so it’s a real pain in the neck to collect any points and prizes from him. It annoys me, but not enough to go into immense details about here.

Plus Yami Bakura is great, so I can’t really stay that mad with him. His theme music is still my favorite.

I also figured I would mention that Konami has impressed me recently with all the notices about updates that are coming and have come to the game. Tons of overpowered skill rebalancing, revamping some graphics, adding lots of new and cool cards and more. It’s actually really nice to see how much they seem to be listening to the community with this game.

Good on you, Konami.


2,000 words in and I’m finally done. Geez, I really need to stop doing this to myself. Every time I say I’m going to write short, get in early and get out fast, I always wind up going above and beyond the call of duty without intending to. I do enjoy the writing, but I always hate myself in the morning when I have to drag myself out of bed.

For now, however, that’s neither here nor there. It’s about time I let you all go on with your lives.

What do you think of the summer heroes? Which one of the four Ylissians are your favorite in their special getups? Also, because I’ve been considering it myself, are you interested in a more extended discussion on Fire Emblem Echoes? I thought about it when I finished the game initially, but I’ve been so busy that I didn’t think I was going to get anything official out. However, if the demand is high enough, I just might.

Maybe I should get a better way to capture images off my 3DS. That could encourage me to talk about those games more, since I know part of my interest in the mobile games comes from the ease of getting screenshots.

But once again I digress. For now it is time to sleep so I can stop rambling on and on like this.

Qualifiers begin: Will I have the Heart of the Cards?

Qualifiers begin: Will I have the Heart of the Cards?

I have been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links since Spring Break, and in that time I would argue that I’ve gathered a good amount of cards and have become fairly competent at pulling decks together to play with.

Thus, I think it’s about time that I try my hand at a pretty serious event that just began, an event serious enough that I feel it’s worth talking about.

The qualifying rounds for the Duel Links division of the 2017 Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships have begun, signified by the iconic Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon hanging out omnipresently across the Duel Links hub world:

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Thar she blows, cap’n.

More complete details of the World Championships can be found here (for the Duel Links division) and here (for the Trading Card Game division), but the part I’m interested in boils down to this.

Starting today, June 1, the usual ranked duels player-versus-player portion of the Duel Links multiplayer hub has been replaced with Qualifier Duels. Anyone who reaches the highest duelist ranking (King of Games) by June 9 will advance onto the Final Qualifiers, which last until June 11. Winning duels during the Final Qualifiers earns a player points, and at the end the top ranking players will get to attend the World Championships in London, England.

Only 12 players will get to go to the Championships in August, with usership divided by world region. Two players will get to go from North America, which means that out of the untold number of players on this continent, I’ll be competing for two spots.

To be completely honest, from everything I’ve seen from players who are way better than me… I’m not holding my breath. I’ve never made it to King of Games even without the added flare of competition this will obviously drudge up, so I would be surprised to get anywhere close.

But hey, a trip to London wouldn’t be so bad… So what the hell. I’ll do my darnedest.

Even if I don’t make it to the coveted Final Qualifiers, there will be prizes available for my troubles all the same. Every player who competes in even one Qualifier duel will receive a fancy Game Mat and Card Sleeves themed after the World Championships, and depending on what rank a player reaches they also receive a number of other prizes on the way up.

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For the uninitiated laypersons I’m sure are among you, the gems that are rewards for Bronze, Silver and Gold ranks are used to purchase card packs from a number of packs currently available in the game. Nothing special necessarily, but they are the building blocks of this free-to-play title and are highly coveted as a result.

Reaching Platinum earns players a Super Rare Card that, naturally, we aren’t being told about ahead of time. Total mystery, likely something super good. I haven’t made it to Platinum before, so that’s currently my main goal. I’m always ready to get new cards.

Reaching King of Games nets players an Ultra Rare Jewel, which can be used to buy Ultra Rare Cards from the game’s Card Trader (which cycles through new stock every 12 hours). Also, it allows advancement to the Final Qualifiers, like I said before.

That’s really about it to be honest. Nothing too complicated, it’s just an exciting chance at something big on the heels of the last big event, which was the arrival of a new Legendary Duelist (The Paradox Brothers, for anyone who has a nostalgic interest in the show like I do). So, it’s about time I quit writing about it and get busy pushing toward my goal of at least hitting Platinum Rank 1 for the first time in my history of playing.

Okay, so I still have some more I’d like to write about. Namely, I have a whole big display about the main deck I’m planning on using for the Qualifiers. However, I know that’s getting into the nitty gritty of things that a lot of people aren’t going to want to sit through, so I’m going to put it below a read more. That way, anyone interested can read on, and anyone who isn’t can just go on with their lives. A win-win, I’d say!

So, until next time, wish me luck on competing, and tell me all about what your favorite games based on things that are nostalgic to you in some way in the comments below! Duel Links definitely hits that itch for me, so I’m interested to hear what you all might have to say on the matter.

Continue reading “Qualifiers begin: Will I have the Heart of the Cards?”