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TAG's World!

Adventures into a crazy world abroad and all things cool

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January 2014

Hearthstone: Blizzard’s new Poster boy

In a hidden corner of a tavern somewhere in Azeroth, Jaina proudmoor’s face lights up, she just drew her signature game ending spell, if she survives this turn, Rexxar will be nothing more than a flaming ball of defeat. Meanwhile in Goldshire, Uther carefully watches his back and prepares his men for the encroaching defias mob, just across the river from him, in another tavern in Elwynn Forest new players encounter yet another of Guuldan’s Warlock aggro decks, their screams of frustration drowned out by a timeless “Rawglrrrrggglll.”

This is the world of Hearthstone, Blizzards FTP latest release and easily their most inviting.

Well defined and fleshed out, Hearthstone draws from the popular MMO World of Warcraft (lovingly ‘WoW’) to provide endless resource and epic nostalgia. For WoW veterans the depth of detail will astound and amaze, expect to see popular faces such as Thrall as well as WoW culture such as LEEEROOOOY JEENKINS, expect the monsters to be representative of their power level in the MMO itself, for example, in the early turns of the game, you will relearn to fear murlocs as much as in your early levels… Image

However for all those new to the WoW universe, hearthstone is in no way diminished by lack of knowledge and the polish of the game is as such that it’s appeal reaches far far further than WoW subscribers. From now i’ll assume little to no prior knowledge of WoW. So without much further ado, let’s look at game play.

Game play:

The game play itself is a simple if not deceptively simple affair, at first you choose a class consisting of the typical classes you find in WoW, these are rather typical fantasy archetypes ranging from the Mage (Jaina) a powerful spell caster, to the Paladin (Uther) a holy defender of the light. Each class conforms in very close relation to their MMO equivalent and are easy to figure out, each coming with a unique ability to play in game, from the examples above the mage can cast a fireball and the paladin can summon soldiers, however this is not the only way in which a class impacts game play, each class brings unique cards to the table, a rogue can assassinate and cause other cards to betray their allies, whilst a shaman brings unique elemental spells and totems to the table, these abilities help define the decks and tailor game play to the players preference, I feel blizzard did a great job keeping the abilities, spells and creatures unique despite limitations in effect types (removal, card draw ect.) With such a wide base to begin with,Hearthstone is warming up to be a game of surprising depth, already the game play is providing a varied playground for potential decks such as the aforementioned Warlock aggro deck or Druid control deck, creativity is key to the longevity of a card game like this and the “meta” is still in a state of flux despite some cards appearing straight up better than others. The matches come in three forms:Arena, Practice and finally Play (ranked or normal) the matches are rather fast paced, with units and abilities practically always capable of directly targeting the other player, knowing when to take a hit or not give a hit keeps players always on their toes, whilst a turn by turn mana resource increase stops a player from being completely helpless throughout the match .(hello MTG players…we’ve all been there.)

Visuals:

ImageGame play aside, the actual game itself is a stunning piece of work, before a game begins you see a small magical chest open to the menu, from here you can browse cards, look at artwork, read brilliant flavour text, buy cards, craft cards from the destruction of other cards, create custom decks, and of course, play against the computer or another player. This is typical of blizzard to put so much polish into a game, jokes, warm colours and sounds invite the player into a world eager to entice, in such a way that I have yet to see many games do. The polish continues during the game too, where a player can turn gas lamps on and off, ring gongs, ‘hit’ the ground and many many other little interactions whilst waiting for a turn to play out, these neat little additions give life to the pauses during your opponents deciding.

FTP?:

Hearthstone hits a delicate balance with a free-to-play model, blizzard recently stated that 44% of the top players haven’t spent a penny on the game itself, with this in mind, it’s entirely possible to play hearthstone for free, forever! however this comes at a price of time, whilst quests give a certain amount of coin to buy card packs with, inevitably you will find a few frustrating matches where ‘expensive’ (read: incredibly time consuming to obtain without money) cards will swing the game heavily, in most cases however, these cards are dealt with like any other heavy hitter…removal spells. Another issue with the free-to-play aspect of the game is that it does include micro-transactions, personally I don’t have anything against the ability to purchase decks in Hearthstone, but it becomes a problem much like League of Legends…you don’t have to pay per se. but at some point you might just anyway, thankfully the card-base isn’t huge right now but who knows, one day it might be, and on that day I can imagine a lot more money pouring through to Blizzard.

Verdict:

Overall Hearthstone is a game that will draw you in like no other card game, it’s not the deepest, nor is it the largest, but it’s a beautiful and an attractive option to literally anybody, rumours that it will be available on android devices eventually will likely push this game further into popularity, expanding on a developing competitive scene making it the new poster boy of Blizzard. You’d be doing yourself a disservice to not have this game at release especially as a free game.

TAG

7 Days later, a new you is growing!

Hello everybody, today is tuesday the 7th, congratulations! The new you is officially one week old, how are you finding it?

Baby Steps and Milestones:

Naturally the first week is always the hardest, especially with intensive resolutions, finding your feet and setting a rhythm tends to be disruptive and awkward, taking things at your own pace is always the best option!

No matter what your resolution is, or how fast you are approaching it, don’t forget to leave milestones, if you are reading this then I hope it’s motivation to look at the progress you have made and what your next milestone will be. This thing is a whole years worth of resolution, having milestones can sustain motivation, so with that, happy first week!

It’s not that big a deal…

Uhh yes it is! See here’s the kicker: A new year’s resolution is a personal commitment, something you alone will live with, you stirred up some invested self worth, some commitment and some time. Just think about what a resolution actually means to you, your reasons for doing it, these things are never as small as they seem.

Introducting some existentialism might help explain here, I’ll use Sartre’s Gambler as an example, but for all you reading, just add in your resolution in place of the premise “I wish to quit gambling.” The example goes as follows:

“I should have liked so much not to gamble anymore; yesterday I even had a synthetic apprehension of the situation (threatening         ruin, disappointment of relatives) as forbidding me to play. It seemed to me that I had established a real barrier between gambling       and myself, and now I suddenly perceive that my former understanding of the situation is no more than a memory of an idea, a             memory of a feeling. In order for it to come to my aid once more, I have to remake it ex nihilo and freely.” (70)

“after having patiently built up walls and barriers, after enclosing myself in the magic circle of a resolution, i percieve with anguish           that nothing prevents me from gambling” (72)

The gambler in this example is realising his freedom in that he is defenceless against his temptations, he is free to choose, just as you are. Such is a resolution, something that must be recreated each moment, each day. In the first week, such actions will inevitably disrupt day to day living, at this point, the resolution may even be detrimental, but is done in the name of improving an aspect of your life.

With that in mind, a resolution is more than just a few words, it’s even more than every action done in it’s name. It’s a wailing child, consuming your time and energy, right now it’s taking it’s first steps, tentatively growing, soon it won’t need support, until then, be proud of what you are doing, no matter if it is a huge change or a small one, taken slowly or fast.

So there you go, rather long winded, but I hope this gives you an idea of what you have thus far accomplished, no matter how small it may be. After all, years come and go but you only change when you decide to!

Congratz and keep it up!

 

If you like what I write or have tips, be sure to let me know i’d love to hear from you!

TAG

Embracing Airports (and delays)

For me flying has become somewhat of a common occurrence, but it seems like I’m alone when I say it’s pretty enjoyable, so in this post, written from an airport lounge, i’ll try explain myself and give a few tips for travellers and students!

Booking:
There’s very little to say on this, I booked my flight last night and here I am at the airport the next morning, don’t stress about booking flights, if you are looking for a cheap flight with flexible days, booking late will NOT cost you much more, if any (around Europe). I personally search using www.kayak.com it’s fast, easy and got me some sweet deals, I mean ridiculously cheap, my last trip to Stockholm was £40 for a return, whilst my first flight to Freiburg was £20.
(If kayak would like to pay me for that recommendation I would graciously accept ;)

Leaving time spare:
Quite obvious but most nightmare airport stories come down to a lack of control, we can’t change human error or the nasty weather, but we can leave room for it, and travel to minimise it’s impact…in fact, here’s some ironic justice, my flight just got delayed by two hours whilst I was typing…go figure.

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Anyway coincidence aside, this kind of problem is exactly what to leave space for, arrive early but expect to hang about, time is the greatest commodity you can have, if you aren’t on a tight schedule, then losing an hour or two is no big deal…just sit back and enjoy it.

The mindset:
So you’re stuck at an airport surrounded by extortionately priced shops and loud smelly people, and babies, lots of crying babies..what now?

Hmm well hold up a second, yes you are stuck in a waiting lounge, but this is a premium waiting lounge, this isn’t your cold crowded train stop with no seats left nor is it your shed of a bus stop…this is luxury, this is seats designed to be large enough for anybody, large enough to nestle into for your wait! This is free wifi and a choice of places to sit and eat or relax, this. is. luxury…you are the royalty of all delayed journeyers!

And those people? They might just be like every person with disrupted plans (grumpy), but they are the most interesting disgruntled people you will find; businessmen, travellers, writers, these people are all going places, literally.  Never before has man had such ripe opportunities for people watching, Airports are THE place to people watch!

What to do?
This one is pretty simple, one option is to make sure you always have work in your hand luggage, this way you can offset a delay by working…working hard, working in a flurry of venting RAGE. When I’m studying, bursts of determination get me through tough work, but airport rage substitutes just as well, so if you are annoyed embrace the darkness and channel it!
If you don’t have work or you feel your mild disgruntlement is melting into those huge chairs, then go ahead and get reading, listening to music or writing, contrary to immediate impressions, your delay time could be the welcome break or creative moment you need…even if it is your holiday being delayed.

Travel light:
Baggage costs high? Pain to carry about? Worried about losing/breaking stuff? You don’t need that hassle! Travel as light as you can! Most small things can be bought at your destination for less than baggage costs. You can be the smug one who ignores check in and baggage, breezes through security and walks straight to the gates. Without a care in the world, you, are in control, with all your physical and metaphorical baggage dropped, go ahead and enjoy your own Darjeeling Limited adventure.

Little extras:
Never underestimate the printer, no natural disaster can be as disruptive as a printer. If you are printing your boarding pass at home, expect a short fierce battle and face it as early as possible.

Charge your music player, for the love of God do not forget to do this! you might not even be a big music fan, but there will be a chorus of crying babies awaiting you at the airport.

Step off the plane like world leaders coming off their jets, you just breezed through the hardest part of your adventure, the world awaits!

TAG

Through My Cat’s Eyes

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My cat looked at me today, she looked happy, yet had spent the day sitting and resting around the edge of the room instead of in the middle, notably; she was away from the fire.
Now It isn’t fair to say my cat isn’t loving, she likes to sit with us and enjoys company, but she is also vengeful, and is as likely to draw blood as she is to follow you along the street as you go for a walk.

See, she is getting old, there’s nothing left in the fields to dismember and now she spends most of her time in the house; so her distance today made me think, what is it like to live in an alien environment, to live as a pet? My cat lives in a world determined entirely by the whims of me or my family, and we operate far beyond her comprehension, seemingly the masters of her environment and life.

How would you react? Living in a world with such a determined environment, everything is provided, your instincts are useless and you cannot even imagine the level by which your “family” operates, you alone cannot interact as the rest do. Dogs manage it fine, but cats are more independent, I think i’d go insane pretty quickly, perhaps that’s why my cat is both affectionate and murderous, perhaps she just wants to introduce a little chaos into a static world…one broken ornament at a time.

Introducing Philosophy

Philosophy? 

Hey sure, why not? I study philosophy but these posts are mainly going to be looking at introspective elements, living in the world today,but first: I don’t mean purely academic philosophy, there are far better voices than mine to delve that deep, i’m still studying. Secondly, I don’t mean Tumblr quote philosophy, I mean philosophy! Sure my posts will cover the same topics as Tumblr quotes, I think the obsession with finding meaning or purpose is a really interesting topic (hence you can’t look anywhere on the internet without seeing a picture with a quote on.) But I want to look a little further, taking from Marcuse, Sartre, Zizek and other modern writers, alongside  anything that brings up good questions!

What would you like to talk about?

TLDR; Let’s discuss popular issues like identity, purpose, Being and the modern state.

 

New Year! An Intro

Welcome to 2014 and the birth of TAG’s World

All years begin with a resolution, and this blog is  the manifestation of my resolution, namely, to get blogging!

So here’s the Ice breaker, I’m a politics/philosophy student, a day away from moving back to Germany where i’ll be spending my time studying, exploring and flailing about in utter confusion!

My goal here is to blog about experiences living abroad, such as the language and people alongside experiences delving into hobbies like Snowboarding and Aikido, philosophy and games! I’ll be dividing them appropriately and posting regularly but for now It’s time to  learn WordPress. If you have any tips, I’m all ears and thanks for viewing :D

TAG

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