Sunday, September 30, 2007

Legends Of Norrath Tournament

Well, I got the opportunity to participate in my first LON tournament today. All in all, it was a lot fun. I got a fair share of wins and a number of losses too.

The deck I played was a slight variation of Liefweir's mage/dark attack deck. It really is a lot of fun to play, and can catch people off guard... at least in the first few rounds. It putters out pretty quickly when the opponent gets some opposition in the way of creatures on the board. Also I noticed if you don't draw your share of creatures, your toast.

I don't really play a lot of LON so I didn't go into the tournament expecting a whole lot. Really, I was hoping mostly to see what else is out there and to learn some new strategies.

The Tournament

Round 1: Ironmage

Poor guy... It appears he had two bad draws in a row. I had a really good draw. Knocked half his health away round one. After that, he just had quests to play. It was an easy win.

Round 2: Dannynine

This fellow was playing a mage/creature deck too. He started to get the creature advantage mid game. I pulled an Assault to bypass his creatures for the win.

Round 3: Nikanson

I think this person was playing the Fiery Avenger fighter deck. He played a quest to search his library for the Katana of Pain... which seems to me to be in line with this deck build. His deck either stalled or ran into power issues. I forced him to keep playing his Elven Priest each round by killing it as soon as it appeared. It was just a matter of time before he lost due to his other flank having no defense.

BTW, there were a lot of people complaining about this deck in the Tournament chat. I haven't really played against this deck... is it that bad?

Round 4: Dunhere

My first loss! This fellow was playing a dark Priest unit attack deck. He was running Sidestep, Wandering Spirit, Gnoll Runner, Courage, Enduring Breath, Orc Swordmaster, and Chipped Bone Skeleton. The Wandering Spirit seems to be a really nice card. I think I will re-evaluate my build and see about adding these. Anyway, I had no creatures and he overwhelmed me. He also had a sidestep handy every time I went to attack him, which didn't help my cause.

Round 5: Banecrow

They were playing a Fighter fast attack deck. They used the card draw avatar. This game was back and forth him clearing out my side, then me clearing out his. In the end I think my extra power won out... I was able to produce more creatures than him. I imagine there is a trick to his deck (hence him needing card draw) but I never saw it.

Round 6: Ibbin

My first match against a priest quest deck! I have built and played one of these myself, so I know they can be quite powerful. The strategy of this deck is shutdown the opponent by not allowing them attack, and preventing damage. I think the key to beating this deck is a lot of damage early on. So, I beat a large portion of his health down the first few rounds, before he started playing Tranquility and Divine Aura. At this point, I just attacked when I could, to get a precious few more hit points down. When there were only three left, Sunstrike, for the win!

Round 7: Tenladarr

This fellow played an interesting scout deck that had a few tricks. First off, they were playing a quest called Job of the White Rose. I played a unit here to perform a raid and was quite shocked when he exerted it! This was the first time I have seen this quest in action. The next trick was the ability Deftdance. I merrily attacked his avatar without realizing he had a two defense bonus without doing anything! Man... another unit down the drain.

I think he may of had some bad draws because he really only played quests in the first few rounds. I was able to knock him down, and played Shock of Fire to get his last health.

Round 8: Louie

Loss number two. They were playing a priest unit attack deck with the power per quest avatar. He got two quests down to my none, and simply got more creatures out than I could handle. He was playing Orc Fanatic, Terror Wraith, Chipped Bone Skeleton, Fallen Orc, and Enduring Breath. The Terror Wraith can be brutal when matched with damage dealing units (such as Chipped Bone Skeleton in this case), there is no counter attack... even if you have units surviving the attack.

Looking back, this appears to be the second time I have encountered this deck. My first being in round 4. Both of my encounters were losses. I think I need to refine my deck against unit attack decks.

Round 9: Window

Loss number three. This person was playing a mage attack deck but was more focused on items to help avatar attack; for example she was running Brittle Bone Wand. It was a very close game... I had her down to one health before she finished me off with an Igneous Adept and a five damage on my avatar. If I had gone first I may have won, but I suppose it doesn't matter too much now.

I really think the person who goes first has the advantage in these fast unit attack decks. They get the damage out first and they get the power sooner. The person going second gets two extra cards... but I'm not sure the trade off is equal. I suppose if you play hidden cards you could feasibly get an extra card out if you are second... I will have to think on that.

Round 10: Silver

Another priest attack deck! Another loss! All I got were a bunch of Pierce's and Hamstring's... it was a very sad state of affairs. Also, I didn't see a single ability until my last draw; and it was way to late by then, my opponent already had too much out. Oh well... what can you do...

The Winners

1st: Wiznut
2nd: Arge
3rd: Icut
4th: Mindori
5th: Louie (who I played in Round 8)


The avatar that gives you one power per quest is over powered. There were two classes of players I saw: those that used it (the winners) and those that did not (the losers). I experienced first hand in all my losing games the power of that avatar... extra power means you win. I was playing this avatar too, but my abilities didn't show up in a number of games I was playing. There is simply no reason not to be playing this avatar right now.

Priest unit attack decks appear to be on the rise. It seems priest's are no longer relegated to questing... I encountered three of them this evening. Whether they are good or not, it does not matter, you had better be prepared for them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Money Plus

If you are considering upgrading to Money Plus (aka Money 2008) from Money 2007, don't bother. There is nothing there you need. In fact, it appears exactly the same to me... except for something called Insights, which I will get into below.

I have been using Microsoft Money for about a year and a half now. It does what I need it to do, track account balances, credit card balances, retirement, budgeting. Really the only complaint I have with it is the advertising. People that advertise in something you pay for really irk me! Movie theatres are the worst offenders here. Anyway, it performs its function halfway decent so I use it.

Money Plus recently came out so I figured I would upgrade my software. I like to keep up to date on software. The upgrade went okay, it appears nothing got corrupted in the process. I started Money Plus up and looked around a bit... its exactly the same!

Okay, so I found one new feature. A stand alone application called Insights. This is a tray application that you can pull up to quickly glance at things like budgeting and balances. But it's very cumbersome. In order to see balances you need to select a single account from a drop down and view them one by one. This is very inefficient. The budget page is a little more useful but offers you nothing over launching Money and looking at the home page.

Furthermore, Insights is a huge security risk. To use Insights you need to enter your user name and password to launch the application. It just sits there in your tray monitoring balances and updates. But you can launch Money from the tray icon! What is the point of password protecting Money if there is a huge security hole like this. My point is Insights gives you nothing better than the Money home page... and the home page is way more efficient at getting the information you want.

The only reason I can see someone purchasing this is if your 2 year online download capability is about to expire or you are brand new to the product. If you are not in either one of these two categories save your money.

Dream Dinners

Dream Dinners is one of these new pre-made dinner places that are starting to pop all over the place. The idea is you schedule time at one of their locations, show up, and make one of many dinners they offer on their menu (they rotate their menu every month). They provide the meat, seasonings, herbs, etc. You provide the labor by following a recipe and modifying it to suit your tastes. In the end you have a pre-made meal, ready to stick in your freezer until you need to consume it.

My wife and I have been to one a few times. We really like them, its a nice way to burn an hour or two and not spend a whole lot more then you would on groceries. We both work full time jobs so there isn't a lot of spare time to make elaborate meals in the evening. This seems to be a way to get a decent, home-made, relatively easy to make meal.

Now you may be thinking this is all fine and dandy, but why does it warrant an entry here?

Well tonight my wife received a phone call from her mother that her uncle had passed away from lung cancer. We need to be out of town this weekend to attend the services. We had already scheduled and paid for some meals that we were going to make Saturday. Furthermore, since the menu changes every month, it makes it difficult to reschedule as the meals we paid for are going away. The new menu is rotated in next week and the prices are different.

So I give them a call about our predicament and they offered to make the meals for us, all we needed to do was pick them up. And they offered to do this immediately, and for free (they do offer this service but they charge for it)! I was very surprised... they could have easily made us reschedule probably incurring some sort of fee in the process.

The Density of Jelly Beans

Last night my wife was telling me about a contest our daycare is running. They have a medium sized bottle sitting out on a desk filled with miniature multi-colored chocolate kisses. The ones that you use for baking. You are supposed to guess the number of kisses in the container. If you are closest you get some sort of prize.

So this morning I go in and take a look at the setup. It wasn't anything fancy, just a clear plastic cylindrical container filled with kisses. I start thinking of ways to approximate the answer. Here is my thinking:

1) Count the number of kisses along the circumference of the cylinder. Call this number C. In this instance it was 56.
2) Compute the cylinder's radius R by the formula C = 2 x pi x R. It comes out to about 8.9.
3) Count how many kisses high the cylinder is. Call this number H. I counted H to be about 10 kisses.
4) Plug this into the volume equation V = H x pi x R x R. So V is approx 2500 kisses.

This is the answer I submitted however the drawing isn't until tomorrow.

On my drive into work I started thinking of better ways to approximate the answer. It seems to me you could take a few random containers of known volume from around the house, fill them with chocolate kisses, and estimate the density of them. Then you could apply this density to any sized container to compute a more accurate answer.

Surely there must already be a site out there that lists density of various objects for these contests? Alas I could not find one. I did find this site on jelly bean density however. I think the jelly beans they use are the old fashioned, larger jelly beans as opposed to the smaller Jelly Belly type beans common today. But it still may be useful... one day... perhaps...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Karma is real. As proof I offer the following example:

Fun with parking attendants

Every morning I drop my kid off at day care. There is a parking garage at the day care you have to enter in order to drop your kid off. You pull into the garage, press a button, get a ticket, the gate opens. Tickets are validated inside the day care via stamp. When you leave the parking garage you give the ticket to an attendant, they see the validation, they let you leave no charge.

Well one day late last week the day care held an open house. I followed the normal procedure of getting the ticket and validating. After the open house ended, however, the parking garage had closed (its a government run parking garage). So a nice lady from the day care used her electronic key to open the gates and let us all out of the garage.

So the next morning I found myself in an interesting scenario... I had two validated parking tickets. Now, I am a rather curious person who likes to try new things when opportunities present themselves. You can see where I am going with this...

So I give the guy the ticket from the day before. He stares at his validation machine longer than normal and I hear him mutter under his breath "This is the wrong day." So I quickly tell him "Oh, I must have given you the wrong one, I had two. Here is the other one." He snaps up the other one and it goes through just fine. He tells me that I need to make sure I throw away old tickets, yada, yada.

Okay, so no secret plots to cheat the garage... LOL.

Well this morning I went to grab the ticket from the machine and it fell to the pavement. I opened my door, grabbed it, and proceeded as normal. When I gave my ticket to the guy (it happened to be the same guy), he took longer than normal to open the gate...

He turns to me and tells me this is the ticket from yesterday, and it wanted to charge me $7.00! I must have grabbed a bad ticket!

I tried to explain to him best I could about what had happened... the ticket falling, me grabbing it, so one and so forth. He wasn't buying any of it. He reiterated his story that I should throw away old parking tickets, and how some guy the day before gave him a ticket for $300.00.

I managed to talk him out of the $7.00. But beware...

Bait and Switch

I have played a Wizard in Everquest 2 since the day of release. The amount of damage this class could produce was awe inspiring. There are a great many trade offs for this; the biggest being lack of armor and health. One or two hits and its game over. "But look at those numbers flying up!" I thought... the trade off was worth it! And it has been worth it for a great some time...

But, something is different now. The Wizard class seems to have lost its way in the world of Norrath. We are no longer the T1 damage we once were. There seems to be two major problems so far as I can see:

1) Those big numbers are no longer a feature, they are a curse.

I am having huge aggro issues! Why does Sony give us these abilities to do so much damage if we can't use them? Fusion is an aggro magnet! Chain casting my AE abilities results in a quick and untimely death also (though Warlocks have it x2 times worse in this regard). WTH?!?

5000 does not equal 5 x 1000

Take two classes. One class deals 5000 damage at the end of a 5 second spell. The other class deals 1000 damage every second for 5 seconds. The class that dealt the 5000 damage will get aggro.

Basically I need to throttle my casting (or cast lesser spells) in order to keep aggro away from me. Why should a Wizard need to do this? No other class does this, they just go full bore!

There is a serious aggro ratio problem here. Sony is punishing the class that posts the big numbers, the defining characteristic of the Wizard.

2) The have and have-not's.

There seem to be two Wizard camps when you read the forums and what not. I call them the have's and the have-not's.

The have's

These are the people who keep saying Wizards are still currently top DPS. They don't see an issue with our class, everything seems fine. They point to their most recent raid parse where they are number 1 or number 2 and they tell you to fix your cast order or get better gear.

I am happy for these people. They are in top notch raiding guilds, they have great gear that proc's a lot, and they are supported by Troubadours and Illusionists. And honestly they have no reason to complain, they do crank out the DPS. And heaps more than the non-T1 DPS classes.

The have-not's

And then there is the rest of the Wizard community, the majority. They strive to crank out the DPS but fail. They have good gear and are knowledgeable about casting order, but are plagued by serious aggro issues and are consistently beat in the parse by non-T1 DPS classes.

If you take the Wizard who says there are no DPS issues, strip away their support classes and proc gear, they are not looking so great anymore. The throttling and aggro issues have stripped the have-not Wizard of their primary role, damage. Furthermore, they don't have anything in return for their role loss. They still wear cloth and get one or two shotted. They also lack in utility.

This is the group Sony needs to address. Wizards shouldn't have to rely on support classes and proc gear in order to function as T1 DPS. Currently this seems to be a requirement, even in non-raid circumstances.