Source https://news.bitcoin.com/how-crypto-became-a-gamblers-paradise/ Comparing cryptocurrency trading to gambling is like comparing crypto tribalism to religion: the analogy is correct, but it’s also tired. What bears emphasizing, then, isn’t that crypto trading and crypto gambling are often indistinguishable, but the extent to which the two disciplines permeate the cryptosphere. From the most popular dapps to the leading hacks, everything of interest within the space can be interpreted as a form of gambling. It’s the reason why crypto is so fascinating and so addictive.
The Whole World Is a Game
The gamification of everything is the endgame of life itself. Soon it will be impossible to go for a jog without receiving a high score or being showered in shitcoins for your efforts. Competition is what drives us as humans. The desire to be better than one’s fellow man or woman is the reason we’re here today on the internet, and not still living in mud huts. Combining money, mathematical puzzles, economics and copious amounts of game theory, crypto is a heady concoction of all the things that spur a man to get out of bed in the morning and conquer the world. And the use of “man,” on this occasion is deliberate. There are many reasons why crypto has been historically male-dominated, some of which are too contentious or tangential to delve into here. This much, however, needs said: men are greater risk takers in life. It’s why their fortunes are more likely to fall in the extremes than in the mean: atop the mountain or in the gutter, but rarely in between. It’s also why crypto’s greatest success story so far has been letting men do what they were gonna do anyway: gamble, both literally and loosely, while striving to stack more sats than their peers.
Gambling on a Future for Dapps
What is altcoin trading if not a game to end up with more BTC than you started out with? Whether you get there through charting ichimoku clouds or rolling high-low in a crypto casino seems immaterial. To understand the extent to which gambling dominates the cryptosphere, there’s only one place to start – the dapp store. Hit up your favorite dapp tracker (Dappradar or State of the Dapps are probably best) and take a look at the most popular decentralized applications on each chain.
Top 10 dapps according to Dappradar
State of the Dapps notes six of the dapps in its top 10 as being gambling. Dappradar, which records more crypto networks, including Tron, also has six gambling applications in its top 10. Leading the pack is Wink, the betting platform that uses the same principles as Bitcoin.com’s Cashgames: instant wins, micropayments, and provably fair gambling. Wink can be accessed as a conventional casino or on a game by game (i.e dapp by dapp) basis. In most respects, Wink is indistinguishable from any other crypto casino, with the primary difference being the way in which it’s accessed. Online casinos can be banned and geo-restricted, as often occurs at national level. Dapps, while not the censorship-resistant paradise their proponents would have them, are a lot harder to block. It’s no surprise that many of the most popular gambling dapps have struck gold in Asia, where download links are shared in Wechat groups and where wagering on life is a way of life for many.
Trading or Wagering?
Not all gambling dapps can be neatly filed into the gambling category. How to interpret Bulls vs Bears for example? Like many of the leading dapps on Tron and EOS, it’s dubbed as gaming, rather than gambling, and as a skill-based endeavor, that’s technically correct. Players don’t compete against the house, and since the game calls for predicting crypto market trends, there’s skill involved. With talk of a “dynamic wagering environment” and large jackpots, though, it’s clear who the dapp’s target demographic is. Like many new dapps trying to bootstrap, Bulls vs Bears relies on giveaways (in this case TRX tokens for signing up) as a means of getting bodies through the door, or rather users on the protocol. In condensing the act of trading into basic binary options – high/low, bull/bear, the dapp bestows the same duality that bifurcates so many other domains in life, from U.S. politics to dead rappers. Are you a bull or bear? Republican or Democrat? Biggie or Tupac fan? Somewhere out there is a dapp for that, where you can wager on binary options for all the things you love and hate. Further blurring the lines between what constitutes gambling and what’s trading is Guesser. Built on Augur, it’s technically a prediction market that uses crowdsourced wisdom to determine probable outcomes. In reality though, it’s a betting dapp, and a very neat one at that. Guesser appears to have given up all pretences of operating a prediction market, inviting users to “Bet up to” a certain amount on each market.
There’s More Than One Way to Beat a Dapp
While crypto users have been filling Telegram and Wechat groups with gambling dapp strategies, a handful of more enterprising individuals have been working on their own means of beating the system. In crypto, as in everything else, there’s always a way to fast track your way to riches, provided you don’t mind breaking a few rules along the way. Eosplay usage briefly dropped to zero after an attacker found a way to drain the pool of EOS. Eosplay is the sixth most popular gambling dapp on EOS. For a short while, over the weekend, it was also the most profitable for whoever rented a bunch of resources and used them to clean out 30,000 EOS from the contract. Call it genius, cheating or a bit of both, it was an effective case study in unorthodox ways to beat the house. People can moan about the rough edges around defi protocols, the unreadability of bitcoin addresses, and the complexity of wallet recovery, but not everything in crypto is quite so wonky. Gambling has been a mainstay since the beginning of Bitcoin, and developers have gotten extremely efficient at it. If crypto builders can approach other ecosystem verticals with the same gusto with which players and devs have approached gambling dapps, mainstream adoption is just a UX breakthrough away. Where there’s a will to innovate, there’s a way, and when there’s money wagering on it, no problem is too big to solve. From casinos to bitcoin, formerly fringe interests have now been normalized, thanks to those willing to put a punt on them when no one else would. Where gamblers lead, the mainstream tends to follow. Do you think gambling is one of the best use cases for crypto to date? Let us know in the comments section below.
The state of CVs - Why the rework needs to be a massive change
CVs have always been a contestuous issue, and the changes so far certainly haven't diminshed that. Currently it seems that most people are extremely dissatisfied with having CVs in their game at all, while many CVs are dissatisfied with the power of AA. While community criticism often stems from a lack of information, I believe there is good case to think that both sides have a point this time. Here is a collection of issues with CVs and AA. CVs are balanced on a much higher power level than any other ship class This is a simple fact that many CV players don't want to acknowledge since it is seemingly contrarian to their own perception of AA being too powerful, but in reality both points are valid at the same time. As it stands, CVs are the number one class in spotting (by a laughable margin), dealing damage (even though a few individual ships like Conqueror are ahead... for averagely skilled players at least), and dealing killing blows. They dominate every statistic - they even lead in average XP by about 15%, despite having extremely diminished multipliers compared to all other ship classes. Without those multipliers, the difference in XP would be astronomical and would show much better how superior CVs truly are. Ultimately, CVs have a much higher impact on the win rate of their team than any other individual could have. CVs' biggest strengths don't even show up in the stats. While players generally fawn over damage numbers, win rates, and experience as measurements, spotting and zoning are concepts that are extremely difficult to quantify in World of Warships. DDs for example always were at the low end of all the usual stats, and yet were the most impactful class at the very least until radar became as powerful as it is now. That is largely because they give their team the spotting advantage, and because their torpedoes are an immense threat that force the enemy into suboptimal plays even if they never score a hit. You will frequently find superior forces turn around because noone is willing to push into the enemy destroyer who could both permaspot and torpedo them. But CVs, which already are at the top of damage, kills, and experience, also are the masters of spotting and zoning. This is why they are played even in competitive, which is filled to the brim with AA. They have the ability to threaten enemies with spotting and instant kills across the entire map. It doesn't matter which flank you're at, the single enemy CV can still threaten you. CVs enhance the radar problem While currently all community talk seems to be focussed on radars alone, the presence of a CV makes radars more potent. The frequent spotting of both torpedoes and DDs by planes makes it much easier for cruiser players to track the enemy DD's location. Carriers often force CVs to use their smoke to drop vision, which then makes them easy targets for radars. While in a CV-less game it is often possible to use the fact that enemy radar cruisers do not know when you are within their range for a while, this becomes exponentially more dangerous when there are planes on the map. And the same positions that you may use to evade enemy radars will often isolate you from your AA allies and therefore make you easy prey to a cross drop. The balancing of other ships is done without CVs in mind. CVs break the balance. This especially affects two factors: Concealment and AA. Many concealment-based ships like Shimakaze have virtually no counterplay to CVs besides falling back to their team, even though the entire gameplan of a concealment-based ship is designed around the polar opposite, of finding those far-up positions. This also affects many cruisers, as for example IJN or French cruiser players may gamble for non-CV games to use hydro for aggressive moves. The fact that CVs are exceptionally good at spotting enemy torpedoes adds insult to injury. These ships are perfectly fine in non-CV games (sometimes even on the weaker side still), but the presence of a CV just flat-out destroys their impact on the game. As for AA specialist ships, WG knows that these ships also have to be viable in non-CV games. And with ships like Montana, Des Moines, Worcester, and Minotaur they certainly accomplished this design goal. The problem is that this makes them ridiculously powerful in CV games (even though the fact that they're often stealth reliant counteracts it to some degree). Theses ships are often designed to be less powerful in straight-up confrontations as a payoff, but still have their tools and tricks to stay relevant when there is no CV to counter. And in a tragic twist for DDs, AA ships also often carry radar with them - partially because both radar and AA are commonly found on more modern ship designs, and partially because radar is also frequently balanced by the exact same payoffs that ships trade in for their AA. This falls back to the "CVs enhance the radar problem" point - DDs are truly fucked in those games. Active counterplay to CVs is awful. Since CVs already counter concealment based playstyles, your only option is to stick to other allies - which often leads to terrible lemming train games. The level of play it takes to spread across the map and be safe against CVs is far beyond random teams, especially since random and ranked battles have far fewer AA specialist ships than competitive. As far as evading an immediate drop goes, it's an incredibly shitty situation. Skill alone doesn't let you dodge a cross drop or dive bombers. Often even doging a CV will still get you killed as you are forced to broadside the enemy team while being spotted. This is quite unlike doging for example BB shells or torpedoes, as good players can prepare their positions in a way that angling against the incoming threat will also give them a save position against the rest of the fleet. As mentioned in the balance section, the CV presence affects some ships worse than others and forces them into severely diminished, powerless roles. There is no real way to counteract CVs with skill, only being close to AA helps. Your only alternative is to gamble on the enemy CV not being good enough to notice you at all, which is often a statistically viable approach but awful in terms of gameplay. It's pretty much like detonations: if you win your dice roll you are fine and get to play as normal, but if you lose it you simply die. AP bombs are some of the worst mechanics in the game. I mentioned some about counterplay, and dive bombers are even worse at this. While torpedo bombers allow for some degree of doging and minimising damage, dive bombers are pure clicking and there is no evading a capable drop. Now for the old USN monster HE bombs this already could get pretty ugly, but most players simply prepared for the inevitable 10k blast plus multiple fires. With AP bombs the ugly was turned up to 11. The fact that you can simply leftclick a ship and delete it on the spot is just ridiculous. Players get punished purely for bringing the wrong ship. Their total power balance is completely irrelevant, the design itself is awful and needs to go. CV divisions are absolutely broken. The main problem here is that only the players who division with the CV know for sure whether there will be a CV in their game or not. So they get to bust out the most insane AA they can find and get a guaranteed major advantage. No other type of division can reliably replicate the winrates that a good CV division can. But there are some even worse divsions by abusing tier differences. Some divisions "anchor" their surface ships by queueing with a lower-tier CV. A T5 CV with two T6 BBs for example is practically immune to getting T8 matches, so the BBs will never be bottom tier. Other divisions do the opposite: Queueing a T9 CV with T10 AA guarantees the AA advantage even harder, and will easily defeat even other CV divs. The only real counter to a good CV is another good CV. This is quite unlike any other ship class. No matter if you are in a destroyer, cruiser, or battleship, you have the means to impact any other enemy ship class, and therefore directly outcarry a good player on the enemy team. Unless that player is a CV that is. The most you can do to that is to deny a small area, if you even are AA specced to begin with. If you truly want to check an enemy CV's ability to spot and assassinate people at will, you need to be a CV yourself. The result of this can be seen in player winrates. CVs have the most hilariously lopsided winrates of all classes. There are almost no "average" CVs. The vast majority is deep in the red (an incredible part of it below 40%), and a significant part of the rest at super unicum winrates. Also WG already acknowledged the problem with the removal of manual drops on low tiers (however shitty of a "solution" that is) and by making CVs the first class that was perfectly mirrored in tier and number. And hands down, many games between two good CVs start by both devstriking a DD on the other team. Whether those DDs missplayed or not, this is still a level of influence far beyond that of any other ship class. So how can all of this be fixed? The answer most certainly would not be to simply increase AA or nerf plane health. CV players are right in their criticism that there is a huge amount of total death zones in the game already. CV gameplay is already unbearably binary between easy kills and no-gos. If WG were to maintain the fundamental CV mechanics, they would probably have to dramatically change CV loadouts. A few CVs are much less bad on the mentioned issues than others. Essex for example is unable to cross drop and relies on its dive bombers for damage, meaning its much worse at spotting. It's also more balanced towards an AA role than towards dealing damage, meaning that both CVs are less effective than usual. For a CV it is almost hilariously bad. But the solution here shouldn't be to bring Essex up, but to bring all the other CVs down to this level. To diminish their ability of spotting by making them rely on every single squad to deal damage. AP bombs should just be removed entirely. There is no reason to have them in the game. They make it strictly worse. They are not very enjoyable for most CV players either with how situational they are. CV queueing also definitely needs to be fixed. I am not sure why WG still allows for tier differences in divisions at all, but they should be removed for CV divisions at a minimum since these abuses are fairly common already. Another CV queue issue is the double CV matchmaking on low tiers. Having a T6 CV vs Saipan is one of the dumbest experiences in the game, especially since Saipan is already a hardcore sealclubber as T7 CVs are pretty much either premium CVs or total noobs. But of course WG announced a full-on rework. Speculations go towards a more "action oriented" playstyle that could revolve around closer micromanagement of fewer squads. First of all this would reduce the oppressive spotting power that CVs currently have. It could even go as far as CVs not sharing their spotting with other ships anymore, akin to spotting in a cyclone. But there could be other goodies in there that make patterns of counterplay clearer. For example the gameplay could revolve around having to strafe the enemy AA with fighters to make it easier to bomb them, which would give the target a clear warning and some time to improve their position. Or AA could be restricted in its firing arcs while being stronger when they do have a good angle, giving targets more options in positioning against incoming air attacks.
Heads up for those who intend to invest in the Stox ICO
Let me begin by saying that despite my ongoing criticism, i appreciate Bancor's protocol for enabling speculative tokens exchange. I don't think Bancor is a scam or a worthless investment However, i think that investors have the right to be informed about projects they are about to invest so i took the time to collect that information. Techcrunch and other articles that mention invest.com as some veteran company raking in gazzilions of dollars and Stox as a fresh, exciting company (Yay journalism propagating press releases) are slightly inaccurate. for both of these cases. Invest.com is a domain that was bought specifically for Stox for a hefty sum of $5M (Yep. not making this up). Stox was once called Stox, then renamed itself to Getstocks (45K monthly visitors) and now set up a "new" company called Stox. In essence, they were a "regular" investment platform that raised $20M (technically Invest.com raised the amount, but Invest.com is basically Stox) from investors (and dealt with fiat, so no need for that new token, obviously) for a social forex investing platform not unlike Etoro, before their current "prediction market" route they've taken. they got into financial problems and had to fire employees because of it and if their annual volume couldn't sustain 30 employees, forget about the $50M in profits. from what i gather, they had around a couple of millions in volume. As for Invest.com. Don't confuse Investing.com and Invest.com. both are Israeli platforms but with a slight difference: Investing.com has 66M visitors a month, for an average of 10 minutes a visit and 50% bounce rate. it is an established trading news platform and a very popular one at that. if it was investing.com which issued the ICO, i'd be all over it. Invest.com has 400K visitors a month, for an average of 48 seconds a visit and a 82% bounce rate. there is no way this is an active platform with the volumes they suggest they have. no fricking way. the numbers simply doesn't add up. So where do those magical numbers come from? Invest.com bought a binary options company called AnyOption.com and retained their databases. Binary options were having a hard time in Israel because many realized they were basically gambling platforms rather than trading ones, despite marketing themselves as the latter. many of these got closed due to legal implications. a typical company like AnyOption used to hire hundreds of sales people that were spending hours aggressively calling all over the world trying to convince people to trade in their platform. they were hard spammers that promised easy entry into stock trading but in practice provided for a high risk, low reward gambling. With the purchase of AnyOption.com, Invest.com supposedly got AnyOption.com's costumer base so they could claim their volume as the former AnyOption volume, however, a quick glance at their website data shows that their lack of activity really hurt them (down to 250K visitors a month). **It is also important to know that AnyOption founders have recieved shares in Invest.com, so investing in Stox is rewarding AnyOption founders as well. So those billions in volume, tens of millions in profit and millions in clients are A. not Invest.com figures, B. outdated and diminished by now. To summarize, i am not saying Stox is a scam, or that Stox doesn't have potential. i just want to stress out that the information you are getting is vastly inaccurate and i believe you are entitled to a more honest overview.
Inpart 1of this essay, I outlined 7 game design principles against which I believe games should be measured. Inpart 2, I explored Anthem's adherence to these principles and highlighted its successes and failures In this final section, I put forward a suite of suggestions to address the failures highlighted in part 2, keeping in mind the principles put forward in part 1.
"Resurrecting this turkey"
If you read part 2, you'll discover a long litany of flaws. What on earth can be done to fix this? To a certain extent, it depends on the amount of effort you want expend upon the title. Most of the issues are not surface-level defects they're core design decisions which are exceptionally detrimental to game-play and require significant effort to correct. Still, on the presumption you want to correct as much as possible, here's a way forward. And bear in mind, this is a list which focuses on dealing with Anthem's deep flaws. There's no way these could all be corrected, it'd be overkill. However highlighting these flaws and suggesting corrective action can be useful in pointing the way forward. For future games. Technical The first issue is what appears to be a lack of resource streaming. Anthem's loading times are insane. Given an NVMe SSD can effectively stream 3.5GIGABYTES per second into ram, you could - even if you need to pull resources from multiple places - load data into 16GB of RAM in under 10 seconds. While there's no doubt much of that data will need to be processed, swizzled and downloaded into the graphics card, there is absolutely no justification for Anthem's appalling loading times. Something is wrong here, whether it be the I/O routines or the resource management system. Put simply, this pipeline is not functioning well. It would make a lot of sense to optimize every single aspect of it until it's working properly. Second, create a resource management system which allows pre-preemptive asset loading and prioritization. Texture management might consider optimizing for visible textures using a "light-cone" style approach where the resource management system uses a visibility solution and knowledge of the player's maximum traversal speed to calculate how far away "in seconds" each texture or texture group is and preemptively loads and unloads them based on need. (Provided you have some kind of reasonable hierarchical scene graph in place and can quickly perform coarse visibility determination.) This is the primary technical challenge inherent in creating an open world, so it's mystifying why the development team apparently chose to skip this. Open worlds live and die on their real-time resource management systems. If you can't stream assets dynamically, you just don't have an open world. Going back to our loop cascade, let's address the failures to adhere to the principles in each loop: The Traversal Loop The traversal loop fails on the "choice", "challenge" and "reward" principles. This is because the world architecture is simplistic and the jet-packs devoid of any meaningful restrictions. Introducing challenge into the traversal loop requires a more densely complex world with vastly reduced capabilities for the jet-packs (at least at first). Players need more complex ways of interacting with the environment beyond gazing at it. What's the reward for keeping your jet-pack cool? You get to keep flying. What's the penalty for failing to do so? You crash to the ground and have to wait. Instead of a range of outcomes, you have two. A binary outcome, as it were. No mapping of multiple skill levels to differing outcomes and no real reward or penalty. Traversal carries no risk, contains no reward. It's a milquetoast parody of real game traversal. As a result, the player is a spectator to the world, not an active participant in it. You really want to get an idea of how bad this is? Look up some Youtube videos on "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice". Look at the traversal, how it enables exploration, how it sets up stealth attacks, how it gives the player options when deciding how to navigate through a scenario. Yes, it's a different style of game, but that's not the point. Anthem has none of this, which is why traversal is boring. So, this is the kind of thing you'd need to do to beef up that traversal loop. A) The return of fall damage. No risk, no reward. Fall damage brings risk to the proceedings. Of course this is meaningless without rearchitecting the damage system in general. There are a number of ways this could be approached, but this is another topic addressed further down. Fall damage allows the world to become more dangerous and provides the players with incentive to look for safe pathways through the world. Of course to make this meaningful you need... B) Risk/reward based traversal. The main problem with Anthem's world is that it's dead. Dead in the sense that it's a picturesque painting which reduces the player to the role of spectator. This elimination of the player's agency is surprisingly consistent. The world has no institutional memory and as a consequence, the player has no lasting impact upon it. The player's jet=pack ruffles the water, but for all his efforts, the world is indifferent to his traversal abilities, his firepower and - most of all - his intent. Traversal should provide opportunities to explore. To pursue reward while risking much. Dark Souls epitomizes the tension between risk and reward and Anthem would do well to add some of its own. Achieving this without rearchitecting the majority of the world would be practically impossible but Anthem is a crystal clear example of the need for your traversal loop to contain challenge and reward. Anthem has none and as a consequence has managed to make flying Iron-man style suits boring. Chew over that for a bit. Classic risk/reward schemes involve the player exploring for rewards and having to take risks in order to chase after the really big ones. The Jet-pack needs to be significantly nerfed and the player needs to be given the opportunity to cling to the environment and plan their next move. An environment which banishes most of the wide open spaces except for vistas which open up when you strive to reach the high points of the map. High points which require risk and reward the player with stunning views and cool loot. Yes - remember earning loot through exploration and skill-based effort? That. All of this requires the world to become a lot more dense. Those wide open spaces are supposed to be vistas, not empty areas you traverse by holding down a button. They'd have to go. C) Choice In terms of traversal, Anthem willfully deprives the player of options. Get a navigation market and blast toward it at maximum speed. Even worse, since Anthem is a cooperative shooter which is absolutely obsessed with tethering players to each other, traversal occurs at the speed of the fastest and most impatient player in the group. Those who might want to appreciate the beauty of the world or try something out are unable to do so because Anthem drags them along to the next objective regardless of their wishes. This is yet another in the long list of bewildering design decisions which reflect a complete unfamiliarity with the essentials of good game-play. Options go hand in hand with risk/reward based traversal, but providing multiple routes to a goal allows the player the opportunity to tailor their approach. This feeds into the scenario loop where the player evaluates the challenge before them and decides how they'll approach it. Unfortunately, Anthem has no scenario loop, so choosing a route to a target (high/low/underwater) is irrelevant. You land. Shoot. Dodge. Hide behind the environment. How you got there is irrelevant. This is because Anthem doesn't want to be anything other than a looter-shooter, so the option for stealth or tactics is completely absent. Shoot the thing. Trigger combos when you can. Rinse. Repeat. It's about as close to pulling a slot-machine handle as it's possible for a 3d game to get - the only difference is that slot machines give you gratification much more quickly. Anthem needs to stop forcing players together. The benefit is questionable and casual matchmaking really is a crap shoot. Sure you can lock other players out of your session, but this isn't the default and the player is penalized for doing so (with lower xp). The Combat Loop Traversal plays almost no role in combat, so combat is pretty boring. The limitless possibility of the Javelin suit often needs to be artificially restricted (with no fly zones) as the designers realize their mistake and try and bring the player back down to earth. Combat is run and gun with a limited suite of options. There's no opportunity to herd enemies and effectively utilize area-of-effect, no way for players to distinguish themselves with smart play, it's mostly just combo-triggering and a war of attrition between your gun's numbers and the shield/health numbers of the enemies. Titans are cheesy as hell. Not only can they fling homing fireballs at you, they can materialize them on top of you. This makes Titans tedious to kill, rather than challenging and entertaining. The environment is practically irrelevant to the combat. It acts as an obstacle and shield, but provides no other possible interactions. A) Damage - combat and otherwise must persist. Without persistent damage, the Javelin is a monster which only fails when temporarily overwhelmed. This partitions each combat encounter into a separate event with no lasting implications and the Javelin is essentially immortal outside combat. Consider the possibilities when persistent damage requires the player to reach specific zones and may require resources to repair. All of a sudden, the world of Anthem becomes more dangerous and has far greater potential for risk/reward scenarios to play out. Consider also a scenario in which the player fights to the top of a mountain through a succession of difficult encounters with damage persistence a factor. Consider further the possibility that the player can lose the valuable items he's carrying if he can't get them back to the fort or to a storehouse. This would help Anthem with its lack of risk and reward. B) Bring tactics into combat. Doing this requires the players to have a more varied suite of abilities. Allowing players to consider tradeoffs and develop a Javelin to suit their own personal style. Shoot, melee, combo setup and combo trigger are not an inspiring suite of options. C) Bring the environment into combat Part of the problem here is that environmental interaction is minimal. Given the opportunity to manipulate the environment, the suite of available tactical options available to players would be expanded, thus increasing their ability to use the environment tactically. EG: Diverting water, tipping rocks, creating pits or utilising the wind. D) Create unique, interesting and challenging enemies. Anthem's enemies are boring and vary between irrelevant fodder and cheesy bosses. The giant spider is the most interesting enemy to fight and this was in the demo. That this represents the high point of the game rather than an indicator of the game's quality is a savage indictment of the combat encounter design. E) Allow the player to employ high-risk/high-reward strategies. One of the key aspects of Dark Souls style games is that the reward justifies the risk. Boss fights results in considerable rewards and the fight itself is often an exercise in choosing between small, safe incremental damage and high-risk/high reward strategies which offer the lure of closing the right out quickly. Balancing risk vs reward is another aspect of player choice - and thus personalization. Anthem's narrow range of combat expression limits the possibility for such strategies, but redesigning the enemies and opening up the player's capabilities would enable this kind of tactical choice on a moment by moment basis. EG: Do I try a risky, high-damaging move and shut an enemy down before he can trigger reinforcements or do I find a good defensive position and chip away at health until everyone - including reinforcements - are dead? (Note that this kind of consideration is not an option in Anthem). F) Increase the player's range of expression in combat One thing about Diablo 3 - the player has a plethora of options in terms of how he'll build his character and optimize the use of high-level loot to cope with the challenges of significantly tougher encounters. Anthem needs to allow the player to do more than shoot and trigger combos. For example - and really just off the top of my head - consider the following possibilities: - Slow time/stasis - Area effect - Mind control - Cloak - Stealth/Backstab - Environmental destruction - Artillery strike - Decoys What's important to realize is that these options must be exercised against challenging enemies. Anthem has too much useless fodder whose only purpose is to die and drop armor and ammunition. (Speaking of which - the ammunition inventory mechanic is the absolute pits.) The Resource Loop The fundamental idea behind the resource loop is to allow the player to accumulate a kind of virtual currency which can then be traded for expanded capabilities, thus allowing the player to customise the game in a way which appeals to them most. This is often experience points, levels, praxis points or some other accumulation. This allows the player to exercise choice over the medium to long term and customise the game to suit his predilections and skill-set. To do so, the player needs a tech tree. And consider the other possibilities: - Discovering an ancient blueprint and going on a quest to retrieve the other blueprints and to find the necessary items to build a new Javelin platform. - Discovering new technologies which can be used to develop a whole new class of abilities - Gaining rare resources which can only be found through skilled exploration of the landscape The Loot Loop This is the most objectionable and least fun aspect of the whole exercise. Destiny and Anthem want to draw the player into an operant conditioning (gambling) loop where pretty colors addict players into repeating a joyless grind as often as humanly possible. It's a cynical exercise to begin with, but if you want to actually make this work, you need to first expand the capabilities of your mechs, throw in a tech tree and then provide a wide range of possible buffs which extend far beyond the classic "more shields/more armobigger guns" paradigm. Anthem's loot sucks because there's not many ways it can buff the mechs, not because the drop rates are rubbish. (Oh, and is there a screen somewhere which shows the accumulated results of all your buffs? Because if there is I can't find the damn thing.) Conclusion To wrap this up: I had high hopes for Anthem and was incredibly disappointed by the result. And this is not an isolated example. I really am increasingly bewildered by an increasing lack of game design chops in some AAA studios. Some people are doing it well, but a fair amount are doing it pretty badly. I don't know what happened with this title, but it feels like Bioware lacks anyone who really understands game-play. A significant correction is needed and the importance of challenge, reward and multi-axial player choice really does need to be reiterated as these founding principles really do seem to have become lost along the way. So if there's three things which I hope this essay is pounding into some people's heads, it's this: Choice! Challenge! Reward! These are the essentials people. (And it's why "Gone Home", "Dear Esther" and "What remains of Edith Finch" are not games.) If Bioware implements even half of what I've outlined here, they've got half a chance of resurrecting this turkey. If they keep tinkering with drop rates and promising minuscule content drops every 3 months, then stick a fork in it - Anthem is done. TL;DR - Anthem is boring. Hey maybe make it fun?
The Answer (for now): solution to the current brexit impasse BOTH SIDES can agree on!
This is reposted intentionally, because the original thread is getting lost, and I think this is really important. It offers a way out of the current impasse which should suit both remainers and leavers who hate May's deal. If both sides come together to make this happen, it will happen. Here's the key bit:
The idea is a “negotiated no-deal”, where Britain asks (and pays for) an extra year of EU membership – or “transition” as the Prime Minister calls it – but then moves to a clean Brexit using the World Trade Organisation rules. No vote would be needed: this is the no-deal scenario that parliament backed when it triggered Article 50. It will mean friction and tariffs, but no more than we have with most of the rest of the world. With a year – and a government with a renewed sense of purpose – arrangements can be made.
If you're a leaver, it opens up the possibility of actually leaving the EU without agreeing to this catastrophic deal, and without an unprepared "cliff-edge" no-deal. It gives a year for everybody to get prepared for the no-deal. If you're a remainer, it provides you with another 6 months to try to get parliament to agree to a second referendum, with no problems deciding on the question: it would be a binary remain/no-deal referendum. Plenty of time to get the logistics sorted out, and no muddying of the waters with any more "soft brexit" bacon-trifle bullshit. Winner takes all. There would also be time to hold a referendum in northern ireland about what the future status of the border should be in the event of no deal winning. And it kills May's deal stone dead, and gets rid of her too (which would be required, because she could not be trusted to implement this plan). https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/11/22/cabinet-brexiteers-gambling-managed-no-deal-good-chance-bet/ Cabinet Brexiteers are gambling on a managed No Deal – and there's a good chance their bet will pay off FRASER NELSON
If the Foreign Secretary believes that Theresa May’s Brexit deal is a “Turkey trap” then why is he still in her Cabinet, helping her build that trap? If the Attorney General regards the deal as a pathetic life raft made of “oil drums and a plastic sail”, why is he still assisting in its launch? Jeremy Hunt, Geoffrey Cox, Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom, Chris Grayling, Michael Gove: all are known to be in despair about the fate of Brexit – but none have resigned. To their critics, they embody the Tory spinelessness that led to this mess; the “pizza plotters” who can eat together, but not much more. But there is another explanation: that they are staying because they expect Mrs May’s deal to be rejected by Parliament and think someone needs to be around in Cabinet to help salvage the Brexit project. They don’t agree on everything (indeed, Mrs Leadsom doesn’t even like pizza) but they think that, if the vote fails, Brexit can then be saved by those ministers who have had the stomach to stay around. Fanciful? Perhaps. But the rationale is worth exploring. The threat of the Tory whips – “May’s deal or no Brexit” – is fast losing its potency because a striking number of senior Brexiteers now believe that her deal is far worse. Thursday’s “political declaration” confirmed her plan: send £39 billion to Brussels with almost no assurances of what will be given in return. A free trade deal is spoken of, but not guaranteed. We learned on Thursday that, in spite of Britain promising to align with EU regulations, we are not even being promised frictionless trade. Astonishingly, Northern Ireland is ceded to the EU regulatory orbit – for as long as the EU wants it. So in what way can any minister honestly claim, as Mrs May wants them to, that we are leaving the EU in March? Even the money is uncertain: the £39 billion could be closer to £60 billion if we end up extending the supposed “transition” period. There might be a bigger Brexit deal in two years’ time, but having banked both our money and Ireland, the EU has almost no incentive to give us one. “Free movement will be next to go,” says one former Cabinet Brexiteer. “We’d be better staying in. No question.” No one – publican or politician – likes to admit to getting major decisions wrong. But in private, it’s hard to find Brexiteers who say that they think Mrs May’s deal is significantly better than EU membership. Even her allies have stopped selling the deal on its merits and instead say it is the surest route to political and economic stability. But if her deal awakens a sense of betrayal among Brexit voters – and rank incompetence on the part of the Tories – this is as likely to sink the party at the next election as a shortage of Mars bars or any other short-term drama that may result from a no-deal Brexit. Another theory, put about by May’s allies, is that if MPs vote down her deal next month the markets will crash, and the resulting panic (plus the threat of suspending the Christmas parliamentary recess) will persuade MPs to back her in a second vote. But this is also a bit of a stretch. The pound plunges when there’s a big surprise: markets are pricing in her defeat. The surprise would be if she won. So if she loses, by more than ten votes, another vote is unlikely. And this is when the remaining Cabinet Brexiteers intend to pounce, and propose their Plan B. The idea is a “negotiated no-deal”, where Britain asks (and pays for) an extra year of EU membership – or “transition” as the Prime Minister calls it – but then moves to a clean Brexit using the World Trade Organisation rules. No vote would be needed: this is the no-deal scenario that parliament backed when it triggered Article 50. It will mean friction and tariffs, but no more than we have with most of the rest of the world. With a year – and a government with a renewed sense of purpose – arrangements can be made. The EU would not much like this, and doubtless declare that no-deal would mean a hard border in Ireland. This always was a bluff. Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, said last weekend that his government is not contemplating building one in any circumstance – nor would any Irish Prime Minister who wanted to be re-elected. A needless Trump-style barrier on the island would not be a vote-winner in the Republic. Nor would Britain build one: technology, now, offers better solutions. The EU might refuse a year-long implementation period, and challenge us to pursue a no-deal Brexit in March. But its member states would suffer too – Ireland especially – so this would be an act of self-harm as well as vindictiveness. And member states would not play along. Some are tiring of the EU’s brinkmanship and are taking matters into their own hands. Earlier this week, the Dutch parliament started on preparations to keep traffic and gas flowing if there is no deal in March. Pursuing a world trade Brexit, through a mitigated “no deal”, has plenty of risks. Parliamentary rebels could try to force the Government to hold a second referendum, but that now scares a good number of Tories a lot less than the prospect of Mrs May’s unbreakable deal becoming law. One leading Brexiteer tells me he would even support a referendum if, like the 1975 Europe referendum, it is held after the event. As recently as last week, Mrs May had hoped that the passage of time would lead MPs to see her deal as the most pragmatic option. But they’re coming to believe that her deal – this blind Brexit with nothing clear at the end of it – would guarantee years of instability, making the Tories forever seen as the party that botched Brexit, reviving populism and near-guaranteeing victory for Jeremy Corbyn. There are, now, no safe Brexit options. The Brexiteers’ plan – betting on her losing next month’s vote, then pushing for a managed no-deal – is a massive gamble. But a great many Tories are coming to believe that nodding through Mrs May’s Brexit deal might be the most reckless gamble of all.
Commander Sam Robinson – Valkyrie – Standing before the city gates of Hil’Sania
“Ah crap, we’ve been calling them assholes all this time?” Sam asked. Þorgeir coughed, “Yeah, seems so commander. Looking at the inputs it seems that the probe is receiving both the elven words and the direct translation in binary. It’s really freaky, but I guess that’s how magic works? I guess? It’s making the translation process go really fast.” “Uh, commander, I think they’re waiting for us to respond,” Myrael cut in. “Ah crap, ok. Everyone, let’s turn on the charm offensive. Turn on our speakers, don’t talk about anything remotely confidential and use our callsigns,” Sam replied. “That’s our charm offensive?” Jacqueline asked. “Uh, wait, ah crap. I will take my helmet off and show them that we mean no harm, I guess. None of you take your helmets off unless ordered to, alright? If the skinny dude can conjure up a mountain of food and the actual Mage has a ring that lets him speak in multiple languages at the same time, then we’d do good by not underestimating them,” Sam answered. Sam took a deep breath and slowly took her helmet off and moved towards the Mage. She noted how this Mage, Ilfundel as he called himself, looked like he came straight out of a fantasy movie. A middle-aged looking elf, with red wizard robes, a long and gnarled staff with a lightly glowing orb at the top, and most importantly, dangerous eyes. Even though he was of a different species, the intent behind his oversized eyes was clearly that of caution and skill, honed by experience as she felt herself being appraised and saw the Mage stare at every possible part of her power armour, looking for potential danger. “Thank you for allowing us entry, Mage Ilfundel. We apologize for calling you the wrong term, it was simply a misunderstanding,” Sam said as she shot a glare at Arundosar who instantly sucked in a breath and looked away. “Not a problem. My Apprentice here has a tendency to lash back at those who scorn his kind. But enough of that,” Ilfundel replied. “Ah, yes. We have noticed some of that behaviour,” Sam answered and then continued, “Regardless. I am Valkyrie, and this is Camper [Myrael], Alien [Jacqueline], Icebear [Þorgeir] and lastly Barhead [Alix]. It’s a privilege to meet you all.” The Mage seemed to raise his eyebrows at each of the names, but decided to ignore it and replied in kind, “A privilege indeed. According to our history books the last time a human visited the plane of Arenal, was close to 15 centuries ago, so to see you all here is an amazing sight indeed. What is even more amazing is that the stories of the citizens you’ve rescued appear to be an understatement.” As he said that the mage pointed to the cage where the still unconscious POW was. He continued with measured words, “Yes, taking a pit fiend as a prisoner is extremely difficult. And I assume that you have done so with the help of your armour? Just a single glance at it just shouts power.” “Ah, yes.” Sam answered. She sensed where the conversation was going next and lied, “They are a powerful tool of humanity, but really uncomfortable. Have you ever worn armour? It’s really a shame we can’t get out of ours now that we are in a safe place again.” The raised eyebrow of the Mage now went accompanied with his other eyebrow. “Ah, you can’t get out of them? Why not?” Ilfundel asked. “Well, it’s a bit of secret, but that’s how they are made. It saves, uh, space and energy and it made it easier to design if you don’t have to worry about the user having to be able to do everything. It’s how we can get them to be so big. It’s not a worry as long as you have a team of support personnel,” Sam answered while trying her best to maintain a poker face. “I suppose that makes sense. The last entries into our history books was that you humans and your knights were quite fearsome in your armour and on horseback. But I notice that you are not on a horse and most of the rescued people told me that you can fly and carry no swords and have magical shields?” Ilfundel asked with yet another raised eyebrow and an intense stare. “Ah, yes. Our magics have advanced quite a bit. But I, uh, know very little of them, I’m just a soldier,” Sam replied. “Mmmh. Very well. I understand,” the Mage said with a disappointed smile. “I was going to ask you all to leave your weapons and armour at the gates, but I suppose that’s not really feasible, is it? I will ask the captain of the guard to make an exception for you all, after all, you did save a lot of our people. I will request however that your prisoner will be kept under guard by both our guards and my colleagues. I hope you won’t object?” “Of course not, so long as one of our own can observe the prisoner at all times,” Sam answered. “Very well, that can be arranged. You may enter the city, and are now under our protection, though I suppose you won’t need it. May I suggest we walk and talk a bit towards the tavern? I’m sure you understand that I have many, many questions,” Ilfundel said as Sam breathed an internal sigh of relief.
Sam was grateful for the inbuilt tech of the Paladin suits. Having shared camera feeds and a mic and audio setup that allowed for subvocalized communications allowed Sam to focus on the conversation with Ilfundel while her squad kept sending updates from themselves and the probe that was flying high above the town for Sam to watch and listen to later. When they finally reached the tavern, they subtly switched whoever was talking to Ilfundel, with the nature of the conversation constantly shifting between the world of the elves and the world of humans, and this third world called Arenal. The world where the Elves came from, is called Ljosalfar and seems to be quite similar to this world, much like most worlds as the mage explained. Looking around and listening to descriptions that the Mage gave, Sam guessed that they were in a medieval era town in a medieval era society. Jacqueline guessed that it was closer to a beginning renaissance era or perhaps late medieval era society, due to the high-quality steel they had and a surprising number of merchants that were wondering around on the market square, near which was their tavern. The fact that they had stone paved roads, and not all-too shabby houses with plenty of flourishes and colourfully painted doors and windows added to the sense that the city they were in wasn’t poor. More questions were asked and answered. It seemed that the elves were unified under the rule of the Ljosalfar empire and that the empire extended its reach quite far into this third world, Arenal. Arenal was the common dimensional plane that bordered all other planes and as such, any border tensions, new settlements, colonies and the occasional vassal kingdoms were in Arenal. The only exception was a vassal subterranean kingdom named Dokkalfar, home of the drow. They were in open revolt against the elves after they had rejected their rule after being subservient to them for well over 5 centuries when another emperor had united all the people on the world of Ljosalfar. This knowledge had answered a bit of the questions Sam and the squad had about Arundosar, his heritage and why the other elves were quite clearly being hostile to him. The conversation quickly turned to the situation on Earth and how humanity had progressed so far so quickly. Sam answered what questions she could but often played the role of being just a dumb soldier far from home who didn’t know about much about the complex nature of how exactly their technology and magic worked. She did explain that the humans were still divided and did not serve a single ruler. The Mage was clearly sceptical and explained that every civilized species only truly made advances when a powerful centralized ruler could allocate all the funds necessary to perform ambitious projects that increased the people’s knowledge of technology, magic, or other matters. The Mage explained that this was the way that the gnomes, halflings and even the orcs and giants did it. The dwarves were an exception, but their ways were strange, and perhaps so were the humans as well he conceded. Sam just nodded as she tried to comprehend that they were now fully stuck in a fantasy novel full on with fantasy races. At least knowing that this dimensional plane of Arenal bordered all other dimensions, made it quite clear how it was that things such as grass and chicken, as well as human words had seemed to migrate here. And the idea of elves and other mythological creatures had migrated to Earth. Eventually they reached the Mage tower in the middle of the square. It was a 60 meter tall round tower made of blue-grey bricks and a flat top. Ilfundel explained that it was a repository for knowledge, arcane materials, and an academy for what few magical practitioners there were that visited this close to unclaimed territory. There they dropped off their devil prisoner and left behind Alix and some obviously nervous city guards to watch over the POW in the dungeons as they went to the massive round library to continue their conversation. “Alright everyone, just a few more important questions and then we’ll go to the tavern and have dinner. After that Þorgeir relieves Alix and we re-assess the overload of information we just got and re-plan,” Sam sub-vocalized to her squad. In rapid succession she heard 4 soft “affirmative” through her earplug and contemplated sitting down on the luxurious dark wooden polished seat in front of her. The other tables and chairs, floors, walls and bookshelves were all of the same material in this library. There were easily thousands of books all around her as the library continued to spiral up another four or five floors, with a stone spiral staircase in the middle of it all. Sam wanted to sit down, but quickly didn’t as she realized that only stone or steel could support her suit’s weight. She remained standing, while the rest of the squad were slowly walking around and secretly taking tons of footage of interesting looking books. “Mage Ilfundel, I thank you very much for your introduction to your world, I only regret that I do not know more about mine to be able to give you more information about my world in kind. And I am sorry that I impose on your hospitality again, but I must insist on asking one more pertinent question,” Sam said as she looked Ilfundel intently in the eye. “You’ve told us that you need magical crystals and a magic user to be able to open up a portal. And that depending on how large you want the portal and how long you want to keep it open, the bigger the crystal or more powerful magic users you would need. But we don’t have any crystals at all. And we are just soldiers and aren’t capable of magic. Could you help us get home?” The Mage rubbed his chin and contemplated the question a bit before he answered, “Yes. I had been wondering about that. It’s quite strange really, the history books clearly state that humans didn’t practice magic when they first came to Arenal and thus were always reliant on the other species to open up a portal. And yet here you stand before us with a very magical suit of armour.” Sam could feel the doubt of the ever-skeptical Mage on his tone of questioning, but continued nonetheless, “Ah yes. Like I’ve explained earlier, our magic is a bit different and there is just an extremely small portion of humanity that is capable of magic. Like, one in a million.” The Mage sighed once more as he seemed to get an answer that he didn’t really like. “That’s alright, I can still help you. I can lend Arundosar to you, he is capable of opening up portals and could use the practice. He is not an expert on it and would require a larger crystal to open up a portal for your size, but if you keep the portal open for only a few days instead of a few weeks, then it wouldn’t be a problem. In return,” Ilfundel said as he gave a sly smile, “I would like to take custody of your prisoner and thoroughly study him. Don’t worry, you can have him back when you return to Earth.” “Everybody hear that?” Sam subvocalized. “Aha! You were lying!” Ilfundel boasted out, “You are telepathically speaking with your fellows right now, aren’t you?” “Uh-“ Sam said as she looked like a deer in headlights. “Ah, crap. No. I mean, we don’t have magic. It’s the suits that allow us to talk to each other. Please, we didn’t lie. If we really lied about knowing magic, would we really ask for your help, or even come here in the first place to get help to get home?” “Mmh, true. Alright fine. I’m sure there are many secrets you are keeping from me, I can see it in your eyes. But you are not enemies of the empire, so I’ll let it be. But I must insist on getting something out of this for me, or else this would have just been a massive waste of time. Let me experiment and study on your prisoner and I will keep to my word and help you all to get home, alright?” Ilfundel said as he folded his arms and looked a bit discontent at how this negotiation was going. “We get him back when we return to Earth?” Sam asked. “Yes, and you’ll have my Apprentice on loan until he has opened up a portal,” Ilfundel replied. “Sounds like a good deal, commander,” Myrael said along with some positive murmurs from the rest of the squad. “Wait!” Jacqueline cut in, “Is Arundosar going to use that magical ring of translation? How else are we going to understand him?” “Good one,” Sam subvocalized back and turned her attention back to Ilfundel. “Alright, we accept, as long as Arundosar gets to use your ring. He won’t be very useful to us if we can’t understand him.” Ilfundel looked at Sam and then at his magical ring and pondered her request before answering, “That’s reasonable. Alright, I agree. It’s a deal then.” “A deal, let’s shake on it,” Sam replied. “The soldier you had guarding the devil can leave now. Don’t worry, you can come see him anytime, and you’ll have him back when you return to Earth. Just ask me and I’ll arrange it,” Ilfundel said as he took off his ring and then slowly turned to Arundosar who was at his side and started speaking in hushed tones in elven that Sam could suddenly no longer understand. “Record everything,” Sam subvocalized, “I want to know what he really wants from us.”
Admiral Dai – Dimensional plane of Earth – UN Headquarters, N.Y.C.
It had been a busy week, filled with papers, meetings, conference calls, heated discussions over phone calls and tired face-to-face negotiations. Taking stock of the score, admiral Stephen Dai re-evaluated this past tiring week. Disbelief amongst the citizens of Earth quickly turned into extreme and even radical changes. Churches, long-time dying, found themselves overwhelmed by erstwhile atheists now afraid of hell’s portals opening up. The first cries of populists proclaiming an end to peace and safety who needed your vote and support to reform laws and thus to survive were accompanied by madmen proclaiming this to be the coming apocalypse but needing donations to save your soul. Nations in the UN were behaving in a similar manner. Every single member wanted to have more information, while demanding more security in the form of returning fleets and warships. They all neglected the Alpha Centauri pirate insurgency in face of personal peril. Countries already started shifting their trading priorities to get more fuel and rare earth materials to be diverted from colonies and to go to Earth, in preparation, of whatever may come. An entire species was panicking. Worse yet, some of Earth’s leaders who were not susceptible to panic due to years of political manoeuvring to become a player at the top, were now precisely the people who were the only ones who could rationally respond to this crisis and had zero incentive to do so. The United States proclaimed a state of emergency, recalled 3 heavy cruisers and a dozen lightweight-class ships to help with relief efforts, whilst congress quickly passed a crisis budget that doubled military spending to stave off political and populist pressures, and perhaps cynically, win the vote for the next set of elections. In response, China’s president had issued a similar state of emergency and recalled 1 of 3 dreadnought class ships from the Luyten system, accompanied by a full fleet of an assortment of a dozen capital-class ships and close to a hundred lightweight-class ships. This prompted Russia and India, along with the British commonwealth to recall significant portions of their fleets as well, which meant that Europe could not stay behind and retreated large portions of their fleet back to Earth as well. And just like that, the efforts of decades of peace-making was undone in a week. The bad days where a single press of a button could obliterate millions were back. The moments of silence and grief, the endless headlines and talking points, the sheer number of questions, regular commerce grating to a halt, all of it, were extra side-issues that put extra stress and pressure on the now fragile political landscape. The only blessing, Stephen cynically thought to himself, was that those devils attacked almost every major political player simultaneously, dispelling any notion of some sort of conspiracy or powerplay from a single country. Not that that stopped crazy people from spouting these theories. Regardless, the stage before him, the UN assembly room, where he was negotiating with all of humanity for its future, was a chaotic and perilous stage indeed. Stephen heard the audio prompt, sighed, and moved towards the podium and was granted the rights to speak to the assembly by the Speaker. To his surprise, almost every country had reacted favourably or positively to his amendment and his proposal to ramp up spending and production to quickly get rid of the Alpha Centauri problem so that they could all focus on this new problem swiftly and cohesively. Almost every country was going to vote in favour of it. All except China. And over the course of the past 36 hours, China had effectively been lobbying, bribing, bullying or blackmailing another 42 countries to join their stance. Stephen took his seat behind the microphones and cameras and turned them live, “Speaker, I am ready for the next round of questions and remarks regarding the amendment of the proposal for the ‘Star Shield’ initiative.” “Thank you, admiral. The first question is from the People’s Republic of China. Ambassador Zhang, you may speak,” the UN’s Speaker said. Stephen raised his eyebrow and pondered. Usually China would have their proxies talk endlessly to tire out the other countries and would speak themselves much later, sometimes months or years, only to swoop in, talk of ‘this-is-going-nowhere, decide-on-this-now-so-we-can-move-on’, and sway the vote in their favour. If China was willing to talk after 36 hours, then they must have something cooked up. Ambassador Zhang turned her microphone on live and began. “We of the People’s Republic of China have been against this proposal for reasons we have already explained in previous sessions of the UN assembly. However, we have a new amendment to submit that if included in the amended proposal of the admiral, would make us amenable to voting in favour of his proposal.” As Stephen listened to the translation coming in both of his eyebrows went up. They were being aggressive on the diplomatic scene. Normally they were only aggressive on the military side of things. Something was wrong. Stephen looked down at the inbuilt screen panel and saw an attachment that had the newly submitted Chinese amendment. The 15 minutes of break to allow for quickly skimming through the 40 page monster had caused a greater commotion than last week. China wanted to bring back drone warfare. 2 hours went by as the planned question session turned into a heated discussion about China’s amendment. “The enemy is not spaceborne, it only engaged by land and air, and presumably is further capable of seaborne activity. All the UN members have specialized in space operations, not on terrestrial operations. While both the UN Space Defense Fleet and national armies can perform terrestrial operations, none have the scale necessary to do so sustainably for every major metropolitan area on Earth. The only still-maintained expertise that could perform this task and is available to us is drones and drone operations. The only short-term solution we have to properly defend ourselves adequately is through drones. The UN prohibition on drones must end for the safety of humanity!” the Chinese Ambassador spoke as she gave their main rationale. Korea, Japan and many other South-East Asian countries immediately objected, “We have not forgotten what happened to the territories you invaded with those drones! We will not allow this to happen!” “That was well over a century ago, and you do not have veto power,” the Chinese Ambassador responded swiftly and coolly. The resulting screams and shouts were disruptive enough that the whole assembly retreated for dinner. And by sheer coincidence, Chinese state tv had broadcast a new segment showcasing the building of a 4th dreadnought vessel, bigger than the other 3, followed up immediately by another segment that proclaimed that China’s multiple state agencies were talking of starting up agricultural and fuel production subsidies that would make China more self-sufficient on those two sectors within 6 years. TV dinner was never fun at the UN. China was being really aggressive. Their play was ‘give us what we want, or we walk and do it anyway’. Was this a calculated move? Or was this reactionary and panic? What was China’s goal? And most importantly, how could Stephen keep the peace whilst ensuring that the ‘Star Shield’ initiative was accepted? It didn’t help that UN members were now completely forgetting formality and protocol and were just acting out of emotion. The US delegate, had accused China in backroom talks of wanting to police their own population in an even more totalitarian manner, with China replying that such drones helped prevent massacres in the Luyten systems before, while completely ignoring the question of repressed domestic protests. Another 4 hours had now passed, making 27 without sleep. Stephen had to admit, even here the tactic of stalling and patiently bullying and tiring out everyone was working, although usually it wasn’t in such a heated and aggressive manner. In a strange turn of events and almost against protocol, it was now his turn to ask questions, even though he was not part of a member state delegation and was only the initiative submitter. Stephen had to take a gamble. Was China taking a calculated move? Or were they panicking and grasping at any straw they had? If it was the first, his question would worsen the situation considerably and set Earth back on the path of drone warfare. If it was the last, he might salvage the situation, and Earth would just maybe set back on the path of drone warfare and he would get his proposal passed. Stephen tried to push his stress and tiredness away and began to ask, “Ambassador Zhang. The enemy’s capabilities are on 2 sides of an extreme. They are both superior and inferior. They can simultaneously open multiple and fully functional wormholes within a gravitational body. And yet they fight with swords and shields. My question is, what happens when the enemy engages with your drones and they manage to capture sophisticated gunpowder weaponry, or worse, energy and railgun weaponry, or other technology they can reverse engineer?” Something snapped. The ambassador was silent and slack-jawed as she thought over the implications. After a full minute of awkward and oppressive silence, the Chinese delegation started to speak to each other in hushed whispers, despite the Speaker’s prompt for them to answer the question. It was panic then, Stephen sighed gratefully. The Chinese panicked and overreacted. Their rule not being democratic, was always more fragile in that it had to keep its citizens permanently placated and peaceful, violently or otherwise. Drones would’ve been a good solution for that, both against an enemy combatant as well as domestic threats. But the Chinese government wasn’t stupid. Giving the enemy any potential whatsoever to gain a disproportionate advantage would be a grave strategic error that could cost humanity everything. The hushed whispers turned into hurried phone calls, and a few minutes of delay turned into another 4 hours of waiting as the Chinese delegation finally returned to the floor of the UN assembly. Admiral Zhang indicated to the Speaker that she was at last ready to answer Stephen’s question. “Admiral, we believe that it would be a grave strategic error to allow the enemy any opportunity to reverse engineer human advanced weaponry,” she finally said. “Your question opens a glaring flaw in our amendment, and so we have taken some time to correct that mistake. We propose to the floor that the assembly should take some time to read the new amendment. We believe it will both address our concerns regarding Earth’s safety as well as compromise enough to allow the ‘Star Shield’ proposal to go through unopposed.” In the half-hour break that followed Stephen read the amended amendment and then laughed at the brilliance of it. The UN prohibition on drones was targeted specifically on armed drones, but exempted police-keeping forces that did not carry projectile-based weaponry, meaning only humans were allowed to carry and operate firearms, railguns and laser weaponry. The Chinese amendment circumvented this by explicitly stating that the millions of drones that they and other nations had, would only be allowed to carry melee weapons and shields. Another 2 hours passed as each delegation talked with their own respective governments and finally the ‘Star Shield’ proposal with its 2 extra amendments was passed. Stephen was silently basking in the victory with his own team of administrative workers and diplomatic aides and thought that perhaps finally he had figured out the political game and that it wasn’t so bad. He woke the next early afternoon to the news that the Chinese dreadnought would not reverse course despite the newly signed proposal and that the 4th dreadnought’s construction would continue as planned. In fact, the production facility would be expanded to start mass-producing a new prototype material that would be used for swords and shields. Stephen cursed and realized that he still hated politics as always.
Devil Lord Azzazzel – The Horned Death – Dimensional Plane of the 9 Hells
Azzazzel stared into the scrying orb and looked at the fat pig-beast that was clearly overcompensating by covering the top of his head down to the last tip of his tail with spikes and horns. “Gabruziel, how goes the raiding?” “Fine enough, though the prey here is hardly resisting. It is clear that none of those petty kingdoms and pathetic towns were prepared for a full invasion force of 50 legions. But I am having some difficulty with sieging a heavily fortified mage conclave as well as 2 deeply burrowed dwarven fortresses. I will need more contingents of siege-breakers from you. Some more pit fiends would do fine,” Gabruziel said in his slow drawl that managed to slobber spit and slime everywhere. “While we are of equal rank, our master still chose me as the leader for this invasion. I will not give you anything, you foul beast!” Azzazzel growled out. “Listen to me and obey! Belial has awoken and our master has regained his connection. In turn I have gained his location. He is held captive by a Mage elf whom Belial will surely try to corrupt from within his cage. Irrespective of his ability to break free, you are to move on from your current sieges and march all your forces straight for the border of the Sylvan Empire. It is conveniently near the border with the human’s dimensional plane, so your plans will not change much. I will maintain my plans and reinforce you in 3 weeks from now with the main bulk arriving in another 4 weeks after that. Go!” Gabruziel growled back in anger, “I will do no such thing without more support from you! You may be the leader of this invasion, but you will fail without me setting up a proper breeching point and supply chain. I have already suffered enough losses from the dwarves and orcs, and the Sylvan empire outmatches them both, especially in magic! While I may be punished and demoted for failing in my mission, you will be stripped of all power by our God himself! You have more to lose! So if you want to succeed, you will send me more pit fiends and other magic resistant siege-breakers!” Azzazzel’s horns flared brightly in an almost white-hot flame out of pure anger, “RAGH! Fine. You shall have your support. But if I still fail, I will drag you down with me and let our master consume you first!” Gabruziel grinned, exposing his sickly yellow and many sharp tusks. “It’s a deal!”
Apprentice Mage Arundosar – Dimensional plane of Arenal – tavern in Hil’Sania
“It is a strange experience to be sure,” Arundosar said as he kept staring at his new Ring of Translation while the humans kept eating. Arundosar had long given up on the voracious appetite of the humans who after half an hour were still eating, demanding more soup and chicken from the overworked tavern owner. Not that the surly elves behind the bar were to be pitied, they would just send the bill towards the city who would have to pay according to the reward they gave to the humans for rescuing all those families. “When you say certain words or especially when you say certain concepts that are strange to us, it seems to try and give me a feeling of an idea that tries to come as close as possible to the figurative meaning of the word, while I actually hear a word or words that most closely resemble the literal meaning,” Arundosar said as he continued the conversation on his own. “Can you give us an example?” the red-headed commander asked. “Sure, your name for instance. You say f- v-, uh, vall’keeree, right?” Arundosar asked as she nodded in confirmation. “Right, all I heard the first time you said it with the ring on was ‘warrior-maiden’ with a feeling of fierceness, and a deep, red-blooded focus. Like peering down at a ruby in a darkened hallway, and if you angled it just right so that a single ray of sunlight would hit it, you would see a glorious burst of fire from within.” Sam nodded while the others smiled and started nudging her. “Yeah, that sounds like our commander alright,” the biggest and most resembling a drow male, Camper, said. His name was directly translatable. “Camper is a strange name, are all humans’ names so strange?” Arundosar asked, “I mean no offense of course, just curious.” “Oh, no offense taken. They’re not really our names, but codenames, short new names that we use whenever we can’t use our real names. Like when we are in unknown territory, like now,” Camper said. “Ah, makes sense. You humans have been absent from Arenal for centuries, so of course it would be an unknown territory to you all. It’s no wonder then that the devils attacked you then. They tend to invade dimensions that are weak or isolated, so that no one will come to their aid. It increases the number of slaves and riches they can take,” Arundosar explained with a sneer. “Yeah, bet they’re regretting that decision now,” the large white male with pale blond hair, Icebear, said. His name was also directly translatable, although Arundosar had never seen an ice-bear before. Although, looking at him now, he figured he may as well have. He was a large and pale man who strangled a dire bear to death and was scaring the commoners around him constantly by wearing its fur and growling like an utter madman when his commander wasn’t around. The humans had a strange sense of humour. Funny, but definitely strange. “Alright, that was a good meal,” the commander said as was done destroying her second whole chicken. She turned to the Apprentice and asked, “what’s the plan for tomorrow, Arundosar?” Arundosar thought for a bit as he replied, “Ah, well, it all depends on you really. My master said that I was to help you all open up a portal to home, and I need a crystal for that. Now the Academy sells-“ “We’ve been over this. The reward from the city is 50 gold pieces. Buying a crystal according to everyone here is at least 10.000 gold pieces. We can’t afford that,” Valkyrie answered. “And no. We are not selling any pieces of our armour or technology to the Academy.” “Yes, I understand, you were very clear about that, haha” Arundosar said half-heartedly. They were understandably adamant against such things, they were truly powerful suits of armour. But the reward he would get for it made him try in earnest. His master had promised him an instant promotion to Journeyman as well as a glowing recommendation to start the process of becoming an official Mage depending on how many secrets, both magical and non-magical, Arundosar could bring back from the humans to his master. “Well, that leaves 2 options. We dig for it ourselves and risk a tunnel collapse, getting robbed, finding no crystals at all, or potentially get raided by competing miners,” Arundosar said and noticed that none of the humans looked very impressed or willing. “Or we go win the main prize at the adventurer’s guild. I’ve seen it, it’s quite a sizeable crystal, enough to open up the portal for your size for at least a month, even at my Apprentice-level skill.” The humans seemed more enthusiastic, if still sceptical at that option. The one they called ‘Alien’, was the only one who really smiled at that option and seemed consistently ready to skip sleep and go sign up right now. Alien was translated strangely for Arundosar. He heard it as ‘foreigner-from-beyond-Earth’, with a deep and dark feeling along with a mysterious even dangerous after-feeling to it. And yet she looked so sweet and innocent, it was quite bizarre to Arundosar. The other names were quite fitting so far, as although he also didn’t understand the nickname of ‘Barhead’, he could imagine that the smallest of the human women could perhaps drink a lot. “However, the adventurer’s guild is a bit of a meatgrinder as the commoners say. You either get lucky or you are very skilled and you win big, or you die on the job either from dangerous and wild animals, gangs of thieves and robbers, a crazed lone mage, poisonous plants and other hazardous terrain, competing guilds, some kind of evil mastermind with an idiotic plot to conquer a kingdom, or stranded in a strange and unexplored planar dimension where the winds could fill your head with nightmares and make you fight each other,” Arundosar almost nonchalantly said with a slight shrug as he listed off the most common ways to die in the meatgrinder. “Oh, please commander, puh-lease!” Alien almost shouted as she pleaded with Valkyrie. “Gods-fucking-damnit. Fine. If only because we have no guarantee of quickly finding a crystal at all while mining. We’ll get some rest tonight and tomorrow morning we’ll see how much effort it takes to win a damn-fucking magic crystal so we can get home,” Valkyrie replied in defeat. “It will probably be a lot more effort, but almost assuredly much, much quicker,” Arundosar said. “Mining a large enough crystal to be of use may take months, if you even know where to look. Winning big in the guilds can take as little as a week, if you are strong enough. And I think you are,” Arundosar said with a wink. “I’ll be here tomorrow morning. Oh, and don’t spend any of that gold.” “Why not?” Icebear asked. “The sign-up fee for the guild is 50 gold pieces per adventuring party,” Arundosar replied as he got up, ready to go to his sleeping quarters in the Mage tower. All the humans simultaneously grumbled and complained about wanting to buy souvenirs, but Valkyrie cut them off and finished the conversation, “Alright. We’ll bring the gold pieces with us tomorrow. Easy come, easy go, I guess.”
Next It's slowly building up, more action to come :D!
This is a run which put me at a 3-0 winstreak on Silent in Ascension 15. I enjoy playing Silent a lot (Silent is like playing chess, Ironclad is like playing get drunk and jump off a balcony) but a lot of winning Silent runs get hyper-focused around one relic that allows you to scale and consequently aren't really that interesting to analyze picks for. This one stayed quite fluid for most of the run so I think it's one of the most interesting ones I've done in terms of pick analysis. Full VOD of the Run. Whale options are: Remove card / 100g / Remove two cards and 6hp Fighting Transformer Boy. There's a path with three elites, four campfires, and a store, but the store is after the first elite. It has little room for deviation and looks like: Fight fight event fight fight campfire fight elite treasure store campfire elite campfire elite campfire boss This path is incredible. Elites late in Act One are generally not much harder than regular fights would have been, there are good early fights to improve the deck for them, and there's even a deviation which replaces the two elite fights with two events if needed for some reason. Chose to remove two and went for Parasite + Defend. The Silent starter deck is a little block heavy and you want to be able to find good times to trade health for damage early on (which is hard to do if you have a bunch of Defends in hand). F1: 52/57hp, ancient potion Caltrops / Finisher / Riddle With Holes Finisher > Riddle With Holes > Caltrops > Skip Caltrops is pretty mediocre, you can argue for it if you're facing Hexaghost and worried you won't be able to kill him but there aren't many other reasons to put it in your deck imo, maybe in Act Three against Time Eater. Finisher is a nice card with a 7-card starting hand which will have Neutralize in it sometimes. Neutralize Strike Strike Finisher is 33 damage on turn one. It's also a card which does pretty well with other strong Silent cards. It aims us immediately at a somewhat aggressive deck. F2: 51/57hp, ancient potion Bane / Noxious Fumes / Dagger Spray Noxious Fumes > Dagger Spray > Bane > Skip Fumes isn't much stronger than Dagger Spray immediately and doesn't make any sense with Finisher, but it's strong enough to pick anyway imo. I don't think it'd be unreasonable to pick Dagger Spray over it given what we know about the act at the moment. ** F3**: 40/57hp, ancient potion Event: We trade 11hp for 75g. Think this is fairly safe, we do have three fights and an Elite before the Store with only one Campfire though. F4: 40/57hp, ancient potion Sucker Punch / Backstab / Cloak And Dagger Backstab >> Cloak And Dagger > Skip | Sucker Punch I think adding Sucker Punch is about the same as skipping here. The argument for it would be that you could skip upgrading Neutralize and upgrade Fumes instead. Backstab outshines Cloak And Dagger by a good distance here for the Finisher synergy and for its strength in early fights. Somewhere in the middle of Act Two is about where I'd expect Cloak And Dagger to start being the pick over it. F5: 30/57hp, ancient potion, strength potion Infinite Blades / Dash / Flying Knee Dash >> Flying Knee >> Skip > Infinite Blades I've never made Infinite Blades be exciting without having a Dead Branch in my deck. Even with Shuriken/Kunai it's still way too slow. You can pick it up if you're about to hit the Act boss and don't have enough damage for him yet but we have Noxious Fumes so that's no big deal. Flying Knee is an excellent common but 1) we're a little damage heavy off our opening picks and 2) Dash is probably the quintessential "good" earlygame Silent card. With Dash our deck is already close to being ready for Act Two. F6: 30/57hp, ancient potion, strength potion Campfire Upgraded Neutralize, this is almost always the first upgrade in a Silent run. The other very good upgrades for us right now are Noxious Fumes and Dash. F7: 30/57hp, ancient potion, strength potion Poisoned Stab / Deflect / All-Out Attack Skip > Deflect | Poisoned Stab | All-Out Attack These are all just barely worse than takeable in my opinion. I'd take a Slash, but Deflect is not a Slash. Poisoned Stab is nice with Noxious Fumes but we're still bordering on too damage-heavy. All-Out Attack is a solution which I don't think is a good solution to a problem which I don't think is an actual problem; aoe fights just aren't a big deal and the solution to them is usually to kill one enemy quickly rather than try to kill all the enemies at once. F8: 22/57hp, ancient potion, strength potion Tri-Artifact Elite Fight. Went okay. Masterful Stab / Malaise / Unload Malaise | Unload >> Masterful Stab | Skip I have no idea if Malaise or Unload is the better pick here. I picked Malaise and figured that with three campfires I'd get it and Noxious Fumes upgraded. I'm not excited about Malaise in the deck but Malaise+ is starting to get more interesting to me. F9: 22/57hp, ancient potion, strength potion Relic: Anchor Anchor is so underwhelming. Good reason to add an early Blur to the deck if we find one. There are so few relevant fights where you get attacked super hard on turn one. Backflip / Heel Hook / Blade Dance Heel Hook | Backflip > Blade Dance > Skip Watching this back I actually like Heel Hook a bit more with two weak sources and Finisher in the deck. I get the Backflip past-me took though for sure, it isn't just about having Noxious Fumes and trying to block; being able to draw extra cards is immensely powerful with just about anything that Silent does, and it's the card to pick if you're looking at how your deck scales into Act 3, while Heel Hook is the card to pick if you're more concerned about how to survive Act 2. F10: 22/57hp, ancient potion, strength potion Store. We have 320g and the relevant options are Slice, Backstab, Dodge and Roll, Envenom, Panacea, Master of Strategy, Frozen Egg (powers), Snecko Skull, Bird-Faced Urn. I think this is an insanely difficult store. Bird-Faced Urn vs. Snecko Skull + Card was the decision I ended up agonizing over. I went with Snecko Skull (sort of just a Noxious Fumes upgrade right now) + Backstab (frontloaded damage is tough to come by in Silent) + remove Strike. Snecko Skull + Envenom was an option here too, I just think the deck's main Act 2 weakness right now is how quickly it can dump out damage. Snecko Skull + Envenom works best in a fight that's maybe 4-6+ turns of struggle before safety, but that's right around where Noxious Fumes plus our other damage is killing everything right now anyway. We don't have an upgrade spare for Envenom either. Removing a Defend instead of a Strike is semi-reasonable, especially given Finisher being in the deck, but we REALLY suck at blocking right now. F11: 39/57hp, ancient potion, strength potion Campfire Rested. The rest of the act is two elite fights, two campfires, and the Transformer act boss. You could argue for camping at the next campfire instead of this one, and you could possibly argue for not camping at all. F12: 27/57hp, ancient potion, swift potion Gremlin Nob Relic is Gremlin Horn (+1 card +1 energy whenever you kill an enemy). Very strong relic for multi-enemy fights. Caltrops / Terror / Blade Dance Terror | Blade Dance | Caltrops | Skip This pick is very close. There aren't any interactions with Blade Dance yet really (Finisher only) and Caltrops is just a generally mediocre card that's unplayable in the toughest Act 3 boss fight. I don't consider Terror to be particularly strong (especially with a Noxious Fumes and Snecko Skull lol). I think the thing that pushes me to Skip here is mostly that we have almost no Block output and adding exclusively-damaging cards to our deck is not helping that at all. F13: 27/57hp, ancient potion, swift potion Campfire, upgrade Noxious Fumes. Planning on Noxious and Malaise upgrades before the Act boss, this is the one which is more relevant for an elite fight I'm pretty sure. F14: 24/57hp, ancient potion, swift potion Lagavulin. We deal 52 damage on turn one. Relic is Blue Candle (aka irrelevant). Backflip / Skewer / Blade Dance Backflip > Skewer | Blade Dance | Skip So many of these picks are very close imo. Maybe the Silent's cards are generally better balanced than the Ironclad's cards. Backflip is just an attempt to have more Block and more ability to do something super strong in Act 3. It becomes a much better card if we get a fourth energy from the Boss Relic. F15: 24/57hp, ancient potion, swift potion Campfire. Upgrade Malaise. Dash+ would be possibly better for Act Two fights themselves, but if we're taking this fight on 24hp with mediocre potions I'd quite like Malaise+ so I don't die. F16: 24/57hp, ancient potion, swift potion Flawless win on Transformer boy :o. Tactician / After Image / Tools of the Trade After Image >> Tools of the Trade > Tactician > Skip Silent runs can be difficult to talk about because the Silent's block output is a bit binary. You get After Image or Footwork or Kunai/Tough Bandages/Paper Krane/Thread and Needle (might be missing something from this list) and you have enough block output, or you don't get those and..... you don't. You can still win runs without them but you start having to do pretty weird things. Silent on a15 has to bloat too much early to reasonably turn into an infinite combo deck and you don't have access to Offering or Body Slam in order to frontload anywhere near as well as Ironclad can, so if you're not getting enough Block you're doing stuff like frontloading with Pen Nib or playing Grand Finale or comboing Malaise. Keep in mind that you don't have cards like Reaper or Feed or a starting relic that sustains either. Yeah. So, the general point of that paragraph is that if you get something that gives you massive amounts of Block output on Silent you typically want to take it. It's not a hard rule - I've taken Cloak And Dagger over Footwork with no Footwork in the deck yet - but it's a basic important thing that you should probably be thinking about. I like Piercing Wail as much as the next guy but that's basically the only relevant common card which meaningfully improves a Silent's mitigation output in a non-broken deck. I actually DON'T like Leg Sweep super much because I think it makes it difficult to frontload without really being enough to get you where your Block wants to be, but I guess it's worth mentioning that you can try to get there with Leg Sweeps. Just in my experience you don't get there anyway unless you end up with the broken stuff as well. Runic Pyramid / Specimin / Ectoplasm Ectoplasm >>> Specimin > Skip > Runic Pyramid Sucks to only have 167g to work with for the rest of the run but going from three to four energy every turn is worth 500+ gold, there's no way in which this is a close decision. I always really want Runic Pyramid to be the pick because it's such a cool effect but it basically never is. Specimin is almost the same as skipping. F18: 49/57hp, artifact potion, swift potion Hyperbeam Act Boss (who we're almost already capable of killing). There's a 5 Campfire + 2 Elite fight path with the ability to deviate for another Elite if we want. We get Muggers first fight, down to 107 gold. Backflip+ / Dagger Spray / Flechettes Backflip+ >> Flechettes > Skip > Dagger Spray Backflip+ is a nice pickup here. With three Backflips and an After Image we've successfully created a shell which makes enough Block to survive almost anything and draws enough cards to deploy whatever scaling/multiplicative damage options we end up settling on. If we see some Cloak And Daggers and a Pen Nib maybe we go back to making that Finisher work, if we see a Catalyst maybe we try to focus a little more on poison, etc. F19: 49/57hp, artifact potion Event: Upgrade a card. Upgraded After Image to get it in our starting hand every fight; that's the biggest upgrade our deck can get by a decent distance. F20: 49/57hp, artifact potion, strength potion Sucker Punch+ / Dagger Spray / Prepared Sucker Punch+ > Skip > Dagger Spray | Prepared Could try to make Prepared work but we don't have much reason to with our current cards and relics. Sucker Punch+ is a nice third weak source, good already in multi-enemy fights and the deck will probably bloat enough for it to eventually be good in single enemy fights. F21: 40/57hp, strength potion Chosen + Bird Cultist fight is iffy. Dagger Throw / Concentrate / Poisoned Stab Concentrate >> Dagger Throw | Skip > Poisoned Stab This is with the intention to upgrade it. With three copies of Backflip we already draw enough for Concentrate to be useful just for playing our cards, and having an energy source in the deck opens so much potential for it to get insane from so many different things. F22: 40/57hp, strength potion Leg Sweep / Dash / Quick Slash Dash > Skip > Quick Slash | Leg Sweep Dash is just a very solid option that we want to play a lot of the times we draw it. It doesn't do a ton but it usually does enough and it's nice to have cards to draw toward which work whether you're looking for more block or more damage (there basically isn't anything else you can be looking for). F23: 40/57hp, strength potion Concentrate+ so that it's regularly letting us play more cards when drawn with one of our Backflips. F24: 31/57hp, strength potion Stabby book elite fight. Malaise+ is a great card in this fight and we draw it in the same hand as Concentrate, although we honestly probably make enough block and damage without it anyway. Relic is Juzu Bracelet to remove fights from Event floors. Ironic given that almost every Event this Act has been a fight. Endless Agony / Dagger Throw / Masterful Stab Endless Agony >> Skip > Dagger Throw | Masterful Stab Endless Agony works with just about everything Silent can want to do. In this deck it works very well with After Image, Concentrate, and Finisher, and there are so many other things we could pick up that it's great with in the future. F25: 31/57hp, weak potion, strength potion Campfire. I considered Finisher+ but ended up settling on Dash+ to add a bit more consistency to the deck, which already has enough raw strength when things go well. F26: 31/57hp, weak potion, strength potion Treasure - Ice Cream Ice Cream is nice here, lets us get mileage out of our Concentrate more consistently and lets us set up bigger plays with Malaise+ or to support Finisher. Crippling Poison / Calculated Gamble / Blade Dance Calculated Gamble >> Skip > Blade Dance | Crippling Poison Blade Dance is an Endless Agony that costs an energy instead of nothing. Crippling Poison is unplayable. Calculated Gamble keeps our deck drawing Backflips. F27: 31/57hp, weak potion, strength potion Event - Library. Go for the card choice over the small heal. Relevant options are Acrobatics, Terror, Endless Agony, Expertise, Heel Hook, Finisher, Cloak and Dagger, Well-Laid Plans Well-Laid Plans >> Finisher | Acrobatics > Cloak and Dagger | Terror > Endless Agony | Heel Hook | Expertise here imo. WLP is the obvious choice to help Finisher or Malaise+ go off with Ice Cream. FinisheAcro strengthen to core of the deck. CaD/Terror are the best general value cards. Endless Agony/Heel Hook are good but insignificant value and Expertise is actually sort of difficult for us to make work, demands an upgrade before it's all that exciting, and aims higher than we need to aim; it is a mediocre card now which tries to do something that's so strong that it isn't even necessary to kill the Act 3 bosses here. F28: 31/57hp, weak potion, strength potion Campfire. Another Dash+, Finisher+ is probably next. F29: 31/57hp Tri-Slaver elite fight. Our incredibly strong opening hands make a fight like this not too bad. Relic is Ninja Scroll for three Shivs in our opening hand. We don't necessarily have to pick this up; it'll often cause overdraws on turn one later in the run. It's good value now though with. Unload / Expertise / Slice Expertise > Skip > Unload | Slice We have two campfires coming up and Expertise+ has enough raw value to be better than skipping. F30: 31/57hp Campfire for Expertise+. F31: 31/57hp Event that gives our Ectoplasm some gold. F32: 31/57hp Campfire for Well-Laid Plans+. Feeling fine about the Hyperbeam fight. F33: 19/57hp, dexterity potion Hyperbeam man. I Malaise+ him for 10 and start playing Finishers for 8 every other turn. Fairly sure Noxious Fumes dealt more damage than Finisher in this fight despite that >.>. Unload / Nightmare / Corpse Explosion Nightmare >> Skip > Unload >>> Corpse Explosion Nightmare is a rule-breaking card for tough fights. Whether it hits Finisher for a triple-Finisher turn, Malaise to make the enemy deal no damage ever, After Image to make us invulnerable, etc., Nightmare is a great way to spend an early turn to essentially end the fight. It's not a great earlygame card (that early turn you're spending is way too important) but it's an absolutely stupid lategame one. Cursed Key / Black Star / Orrery Cursed Key >> Black Star | Orrery > Skip F34: 48/57hp, dexterity potion Deck has completely taken off now. Act boss is Donuts, who we basically already beat with 100% equity. Skimming over Act 3 card decisions again. Skip > Quick Slash > Masterful Stab+ | Bane Cloak And Dagger > Skip > Flying Knee | Dagger Spray Skip > Endless Agony > Bane > Underhanded Strike Flechettes > Skip > Sucker Punch | Slice Flechettes is fun with Well-Laid Plans and all our card draw. Upgrade Flechettes. Upgrade Finisher. After Image >>> Dash+ > Skip > Prepared Relevant relic: Pen Nib Malaise+ >> Skip > Quick Slash+ > Underhanded Strike+ Two Malaise is fine at this point. Blur > Skip | Dash >> Deadly Poison Blur is only so-so because our bossfight has consistent damage and we have consistent block output. Heel Hook | Cloak And Dagger > Skip > Sucker Punch Observation: Nightmare on Finisher with 10 energy next turn is quite strong. Backflip >> Piercing Wail > Skip > Dagger Throw Skip > Quick Slash+ | Bouncing Flash | Dagger Throw I missed some point where I got a Skewer too. End fight goes well, I Nightmare Finisher+ and hold Finisher+ Cloak And Dagger with Well-Laid Plans+ to deal around 200 damage on turn 5 and that burst basically ends the fight. Not like we were taking damage anyway, run ends at 54/57hp.
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Futures Slide After US-China APEC Clash, Apple Production Cuts
After a dramatic end to the APEC summit in Papua New Guniea which concluded in disarray, without agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history amid the escalating rivalry between the United States and China, U.S. index futures initially traded sharply lower as investors digested signs that America-China trade tensions are set to persist, however they staged a modest rebound around the time Europe opened, and have traded mixed since amid subdued volumes as a holiday-shortened week begins in the US. Last Friday, US stocks jumped after President Trump said that he might not impose more tariffs on Chinese goods after Beijing sent a list of measures it was willing to take to resolve trade tensions. However, tensions between the two superpowers were clearly on display at the APEC meeting over the weekend where Vice President Mike Pence said in a blunt speech that there would be no end to U.S. tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods until China changed its ways. “The comments from Trump were seen as offering a glimmer of hope that further tariff action could be held in abeyance,” said NAB’s head of FX strategy, Ray Attrill. “The exchange of barbs between Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping in PNG on the weekend continues to suggest this is unlikely.” US Futures were also pressured following a report by the WSJ that Apple has cut iPhone production, creating turmoil for suppliers and sending AAPL stock 1.6% lower and pressuring Nasdaq futures. Yet while early sentiment was downbeat following the APEC fiasco, US futures staged a rebound as shares in both Europe and Asia rose while Treasuries declined, the dollar faded an initial move higher as traders focused on the Fed’s new-found concerns over the global economy, and the pound advanced amid speculation that the worst may be over for Theresa May, since the potential for a vote of no confidence in May may be losing traction: the Sun reported that 42 lawmakers have sent letters of no confidence to Graham Brady, 6 more are needed to trigger a leadership challenge Asia took a while to warm up but made a strong finish, with the Shanghai Composite closing 0.9% and Japan's Nikkei 0.7% higher, helping Europe start the week off strong too as a 1 percent jump in mining, tech and bank stocks helped traders shrug off last week’s Brexit woes. At the same time, stocks fell in Australia and New Zealand, where the Aussie and kiwi currencies dropped after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attacked China at the weekend APEC summit. Telecommunications and construction shares pushed Europe's Stoxx 600 Index higher, along with stocks in Italy, where Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said the government is ready for dialog with the European Commission over the country’s budget, which however seems just more semantics as Italy refused to concede to European budget demands. Meanwhile, in addition to confusion over trade, the outlook for U.S. interest rates was also uncertain. While Federal Reserve policymakers are still signaling rate increases ahead, they also sounded more concerned about a potential global slowdown, leading markets to suspect the tightening cycle may not have much further to run and Morgan Stanley to write that "We Sense A Shift In Tone From The Fed." Goldman Sachs also chimed in, saying it expected the pace of U.S. economic growth to slow toward the global average next year. The bank now sees a broad dollar decline next year, and revised its long-standing bearish view on the Japanese yen and tipped Latin American currencies, the Swedish krona, the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars and the Israeli shekel to rise. “We see several changes to the global economic backdrop which, combined with a few negative medium-run factors, point to more downside than upside to the broad dollar in 2019,” Goldman economists said in an outlook report. Goldman's bearish tilt will focus attention on an appearance by New York Fed President John Williams later on Monday to see if he echoes the same theme. As Reuters notes, investors have already cut odds of further hikes, with a December move now priced at 73%, down from over 90%. Futures imply rates around 2.74% for the end of next year, compared to 2.93% early this month. As a result, yields on 10-year Treasurys declined to 3.08 percent, from a recent top of 3.25 percent while the currency market saw the dollar fade early gains while the pound rebounded from sharp losses last week as Theresa May prepared to appeal to business leaders to help deliver her Brexit deal as the premier fights almost insurmountable Parliamentary opposition. May said on Sunday that toppling her would risk delaying Brexit as she faces the possibility of a leadership challenge from within her own party. With both pro-EU and pro-Brexit lawmakers unhappy with the draft agreement, it is not clear that she will be able to win the backing of parliament, increasing the risk that Britain will leave the EU without a deal. Elsewhere, the Australian and New Zealand dollars held on to their declines after Mike Pence's attack on China this weekend fueled concern Sino-U.S. trade tensions will worsen; the yen neared a month-to-date high on the risk-aversion, onshore yuan weakened for the first time in five days. Treasuries slipped while European bonds were mixed, with core notes slipping and peripherals rising led by Italy. In the U.S., trading activity may be thinned before the Thanksgiving holiday later this week. In commodity markets, gold found support from the drop in the dollar and held at $1,1220.19. Oil prices suffered their sixth straight week of losses last week, but climbed toward $57 a barrel in New York on Monday. Bitcoin dropped further below $6,000, at one point touching a one-year intraday low.
S&P500 futures down 0.2% to 2,738.50
STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 359.37
MXAP up 0.4% to 152.43
MXAPJ up 0.2% to 488.43
Nikkei up 0.7% to 21,821.16
Topix up 0.5% to 1,637.61
Hang Seng Index up 0.7% to 26,372.00
Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 2,703.51
Sensex up 0.9% to 35,758.30
Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 5,693.66
Kospi up 0.4% to 2,100.56
German 10Y yield rose 2.4 bps to 0.391%
Euro up 0.04% to $1.1419
Italian 10Y yield unchanged at 3.119%
Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.4 bps to 1.632%
Brent futures up 0.4% to $67.05/bbl
Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,219.37
U.S. Dollar Index down 0.1% to 96.41
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg:
Theresa May will appeal to business leaders to help deliver her Brexit deal, as she fights almost insurmountable opposition in Parliament and a possible leadership challenge. You do the math: Can May get her Brexit deal through Parliament?
Vice President Mike Pence sharpened U.S. attacks on China during a week of summits that ended Sunday, most notably with a call for nations to avoid loans that would leave them indebted to Beijing
An Asia- Pacific summit ended in tumult after the U.S. and China failed to agree on language in a final statement, the latest sign that a trade war between the world’s biggest economies won’t end anytime soon
The European Central Bank shouldn’t rush to spell out how long it plans to reinvest proceeds from bonds maturing under its asset-purchases program, said French policy maker Francois Villeroy de Galhau
President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t stop acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker if he curtails special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
U.K. house asking prices fell from a year earlier for the first time since 2011, led by declines in London and among the most expensive properties.
President Donald Trump said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied to him perhaps five times any role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the U.S. may never know whether he was involved in the murder
Trump’s famously opaque business will face a bracing new reality next year when House Democrats hit it with a flurry of subpoenas for the first time
The European Central Bank shouldn’t rush to spell out how long it plans to reinvest proceeds from bonds maturing under its asset-purchases program, said French policy maker Francois Villeroy de Galhau
The European Union is hammering out the first bloc-wide rules to prevent foreign investments from threatening national security, as Chinese acquisitions foster political unease
Hedge funds’ wagers against West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude soared for a seventh straight week, the longest global short-selling streak in data going back to 2011
Asian equity markets began the week somewhat cautious on lingering trade concerns and after disunity at the APEC summit over the weekend which failed to agree on a joint communique for the first time in history due to US-China tensions. ASX 200 (-0.6%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.6%) traded mixed in which nearly all of Australia’s sectors were in the red aside from miners, while Nikkei 225 was positive as participants digested mixed trade data which showed a jump in imports. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+0.7%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.9%) were choppy amid trade-related uncertainty following the verbal jabs between US and China in which Chinese President Xi warned that countries which embraced protectionism were doomed to fail and US Vice President Pence later commented the US could more than double the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. Finally, 10yr JGBs futures rose to match the YTD high as they tracked the recent upside in T-notes and with the BoJ also present in the market for JPY 800bln of JGBs in the belly to the short-end of the curve. APEC summit ended without an agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history after China refused to sign amid US-China tensions, while there had been comments from Chinese President Xi Jinping that countries which embraced protectionism were "doomed to failure" and US Vice President Pence later commented that he was prepared to "more than double" the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. Top Asian News - China’s Ping An Buys Stake in German Fintech Incubator Finleap - Japan Bank Shares Fall Most in Month After U.S. Yields Drop - Asian Markets Come out of Their Torpor as Stock Gains Accelerate - An Accountant Stirs Debate as India Central Bank Board Meets Major European indices are in the green, with the outperforming FTSE MIB (+1.1%) bolstered by news that Luigi Gubitosi has been appointed as the new CEO of Telecom Italia (+4.3%). The SMI (-0.2%) gave up initial gains and is lagging its peers, weighed on Swatch (-4.0%) and Richemont (-1.4%) following unfavourable price outlook for both by Bank of America Merill Lynch. Sectors are mostly all in the green, with outperformance in telecom names, while energy names are lower given pullback in oil prices in recent trade and consumer discretionary names are weighed on by Renault (-7.0%), with the company shares extending losses following reports that Nissan’s boss has been arrested in Japan regarding allegations of financial violations. Renault shares are hit given the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. Elsewhere, BPost (-5.7%) shares are hit following a downgrade at HSBC, while Tele2 (+1.8%), are near the top of the Stoxx 600 after being upgraded at Berenberg. Top European News
Villeroy Sees No Need to Define Reinvestments Length in December
U.K. Housing Woes Deepen With First Asking-Price Drop Since 2011
EU Set to Tighten Rules on Foreign Investment to Fend Off China
New Telecom Italia Boss Deepens Activist Shareholder’s Clout
In FX, the Greenback has regained some composure following its downturn at the end of last week amidst soft US data and cautious if not concerned or outright dovish Fed rhetoric (Clarida conscious about contagion from slower global growth, Kaplan envisaging headwinds from rising debt and Harker opposed to a December rate hike), but the DXY remains capped below a key Fib level (96.590) and the Dollar overall is mixed vs major counterparts.
NZD/AUD/CAD- All on the back foot against their US peer and underperforming other G10 currencies, with the Kiwi retreating below 0.6850 and undermined by cross flows as Aud/Nzd rebounds further from recent lows towards 1.0700 and Aud/Usd holds above 0.7300 in wake of last week’s strong Aussie jobs data.
GBP- The Pound has derived some comfort, or is simply just relieved that the Tory uprising and challenge to UK PM May has not reached the minimum level required to trigger a no confidence vote and adding another potential spanner in the Brexit works. However, the situation remains far from stable and certain given that Parliament still has to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and the room for further renegotiation with the EU looks limited at best ahead of Sunday’s Summit and more meetings planned in the run up to try and sound out whether there is scope to tweak elements of the draft. Cable has tested and marginally breached last Friday’s peak at 1.2877, but far from convincingly amidst supply ahead of 1.2900, and with the 21 DMA also representing formidable tech resistance just above the big figure (1.2918-20). Meanwhile, EuGbp has not pulled back too far below 0.8900, as the single currency holds firm in its own right.
EM- The Rand has made an encouraging start to the week, with a break through 14.0000 vs the Usd exposing recent peaks and momentum to re-test 13.8700 ahead of 13.6000 (50% Fib).
In commodities, Brent (+0.5%) and WTI (+0.1%) are in positive territory, albeit off highs, following market expectations that Saudi Arabia will steer OPEC and Russia to cut oil supply. Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Novak said the country is planning to sign an output agreement with OPEC at their December 6th meeting in Vienna. Overnight gains in the complex were driven by reports that Saudi is said to want oil prices around USD 80.00/bbl. Elsewhere, Iranian President Rouhani emerged on state TV and stated that the US has failed to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero and Iran will continue to sell their crude. Conversely, Gold (-0.2%) prices fell this morning, with traders citing profit taking from last week’s gains, while Palladium is nearing parity with gold as an all-time high of USD 1185.4/oz was hit on Friday. Separately, copper is lower following tension between the US and China at the APEC summit which ended without an agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history. It's a fairly quiet start to the week on Monday with the only data of note being the Euro Area and the November NAHB housing market index reading in the US. Away from that, the Fed's Williams is due to speak in the afternoon, while BoJ Governor Kuroda, Bank of France Governor Villeroy de Galhau and his predecessor, Noyer, will all speak at the Europlace Financial Forum. Euro Area finance ministers are also due to gather in Brussels to seek to make progress on Franco-German plans to shore up the currency union. US Event Calendar
10am: NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 67, prior 68
10:45am: Fed’s Williams Speaks in Moderated Q&Ain the Bronx
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Brexit was left in a bit of phoney war this weekend. We’re no closer to a leadership contest for Mrs May but it could still happen at any point. The Sun -citing their “extensive investigation” - has concluded that 42 lawmakers have sent letters of no-confidence in the PM (48 needed). Overall though more Conservative MPs are disliking the deal - and will vote against it - than will ask for a leadership battle in our opinion. The consensus that is forming amongst the Conservative MPs who dislike the Withdrawal Agreement is that it can be improved upon. This time next week we will have just had the Sunday EU summit to sign off their side of the deal but its not clear how meaningful tweaks could be made before this and before the agreement goes before UK Parliament in the next 2-3 weeks. The only thing that could be fleshed out is more on the future relationship between the UK and Europe as Mrs May travels to Brussels this week to try to progress on this. That might appease some MPs but likely not enough to help the vote pass. As such my personal view is that May stays on as leader, the EU offer no concession, the vote doesn’t get through Parliament and then the fun and games start. The UK may go back to Europe and ask for specific concessions at this point or we may end up with a path towards a hard Brexit or a second referendum. Quite binary options. For the EU maybe the gamble is to offer nothing and assume the UK Parliament eventually offers a second referendum and voters eventually decide to stay. This increases the risk of a cliff-edge hard Brexit but also one where no Brexit happens at all. This story has a lot of legs left in it. There was lots in the press this weekend about Brexit but interestingly for me as a credit strategist by day, there was also a fair bit of negative press about credit with some of the more sensational articles suggesting that credit could soon blow up financial markets due to (amongst other things) the weight of US BBBs about to swamp the HY market, record levels of Cov-lite issuance and due to record high US corporate leverage. For us there needs to some perspective. We have been on the underweight side of credit all year, more weighted to a US underweight of late but that’s been more of a valuation play than over too much concerns about immediate credit quality. The US economy remains strong and credit deterioration is likely to remain idiosyncratic until it rolls over. At that point we will have big problems though and last week’s activity made us more confident liquidity will be bad when the cycle turns as we moved a fairly large amount on nervousness as much as anything else. GE, PG&E, plunging oil and the factors discussed above provided a jolt but we don’t think this is enough for now to impact the economy so credit will probably stabilise. However once there is actual broad economic weakness, this last week will be a dress rehearsal for the problems ahead and there will be little two-way activity with spreads gapping wider. However that’s for further down the cycle. For now credit’s main problem has been it hadn’t responded enough to the pick up in vol. The good news is that this is starting to catch-up and correct. Last week, EU non-fin. IG spread widened by 13bps and HY by 45bps while those on US IG by 14bps and HY by 49bps. Big moves relative to a small down week in equities. Looking ahead to the highlights for this week, I’d imagine if you’re in the US this will revolve around family, friends and perhaps Turkey as you sit down for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Outside of that we get the flash PMIs around the globe on Friday which in a period of nervousness about the global growth outlook will be scrutinised in thin post holiday trading. Black Friday will also mark the start of Xmas shopping season for retailers. Also worth noting is the European Commission's opinions on the budget plans of the Euro Area countries on Wednesday. While the EC formally has three weeks to provide an opinion on Italy's new fiscal plan following their budget resubmission last week, it's possible that they will issue this for Italy alongside this and thus kick starting the EDP process. This morning in Asia, markets have kicked off the week on a positive note with the Nikkei (+0.48%), Hang Seng (+0.40%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.22%) all up along with most Asian markets. Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 (-0.33%) are pointing towards a weaker start. In terms of overnight data releases, the UK Rightmove house prices index fell -0.2% yoy (-1.7% mom), first dip since 2011, led by declines in London (-2.4% yoy). Japan’s October adjusted trade balance stood at –JPY 302.7bn (vs. –JPY 48.3bn) as growth in imports (+19.9% yoy vs. +14.1% yoy expected) outpaced the growth in exports (+8.2% yoy vs. +8.9% yoy expected). In other news, the US Vice President Pence delivered some sharp rhetoric on China over the weekend where he called upon countries to avoid taking debt from China as that would leave them indebted to China. He also added that the US wasn’t in a rush to end the trade war and would “not change course until China changes its ways.” Elsewhere, the APEC summit ended in disarray on Sunday after the US and China failed to agree on a joint statement, reflecting tensions due to the ongoing trade war. This is the first time since the summit began in 1993 that no joint statement was issued. Looking back briefly now to last week before we focus on the full day-byday week ahead. Friday was an eventful day for market-moving rhetoric from policymakers, highlighted by Fed Vice Chair Clarida and President Trump. First, the dollar shed -0.52% after Clarida discussed the global economy and said there “is some evidence it’s slowing.” Two-year treasury yields rallied -3.8bps (-11.0bps on the week) and the market removed 6bps of Fed hikes through the end of next year (priced out a total of 16bps on the week). This came despite Clarida’s other remarks, which emphasised the strong US economy and his support for moving policy to a “neutral” level, consistent with the FOMC’s projections. Later in the session, Chicago Fed President Evans said that he too wants to move policy to neutral, and then another 50bps or so beyond that level. Later on Friday, President Trump injected optimism on the trade policy front by telling reporters that China wants to make a deal and that he may not institute further tariffs. China has apparently offered a list of potential concessions, which could prove to be the basis of a trade deal at the 30 November G20 summit. Even though unnamed White House sources subsequently tried to soften expectations, the market rallied with the S&P 500 up +0.22% (-1.31% on the week). The DOW and Russell 2000 closed -2.22% and -1.42% on the week, though they both rallied on the President’s comments as well (+0.22% and +0.49% on Friday, respectively). After Pence’s weekend comments we should probably discount some of the above optimism. Other markets were already closed when President Trump’s comments boosted sentiment. The STOXX 600 closed the week -2.20% (-0.20% on Friday), while UK equities outperformed marginally, with the FTSE 100 shedding only -1.29% on the week (-0.34% Friday). This reflected the weaker pound, which retreated -1.13% versus the dollar (+0.41% Friday) and -1.83% versus the euro (its worst such week since July 2017, and -0.38% on Friday). Asian equities were mixed, with the Shanghai Composite advancing +3.09% (+0.41% Friday) on trade optimism and the Nikkei down -2.56% (-0.57% Friday). German Bunds rallied -4.0bps last week, while peripheral spreads widened slightly with Italy leading the way. BTPs sold off +8.8bps (flat on Friday) as the government continued to escalate its confrontation with the European Commission. It's a fairly quiet start to the week on Monday with the only data of note being September construction output data for the Euro Area and the November NAHB housing market index reading in the US. Away from that, the Fed's Williams is due to speak in the afternoon, while BoJ Governor Kuroda, Bank of France Governor Villeroy de Galhau and his predecessor, Noyer, will all speak at the Europlace Financial Forum. Euro Area finance ministers are also due to gather in Brussels to seek to make progress on Franco-German plans to shore up the currency union.
I just decentralized the entire $1.4 trillion derivatives market and created a new kind of mathematical object.
White paper is in progress, but I will summarize the theory here. I offer it to the internet for free, and only hope that you will use its power responsibly. Also, I made an error in the topic title... the derivatives market isn't worth 1.4 trillion (ap, you twit). It's $1.4 quadrillion. What I propose is a new kind of asset, a 2-dimensional and n-dimensional bitcoin. I am calling it a cryptocontract. As I listened to speculation about the price of bitcoin on stage at the Dubai Conference, it occurred to me what the next step should be. Bitcoin binary options recently became a thing (http://btcoracle.com/) but it's not enough. It's all still centralized. All trading is. All trading and asset speculation is conducted through the SEC and other central regulatory agencies. There's no way to either hedge your risk on a given asset, OR to speculate on a particular asset's price in the future without going through a centrally regulated agency. Say hello to crypto-options. It's been a while since I've been in computer science (like ten years) so I don't know exactly how this would work, but I do know how it would function. What you would need is a crypto asset with a public hash that has TWO solutions (or more, but lets start simple). That way, when that crypto asset is generated (let's call it a cryptocontract for future brevity) it has a hard condition coded into it that will resolve at some point in the future, based on the price of a given asset. For example, let $condition = "the price of bitcoin is greater than $1000 on June 1st, 2015". Now I know this is problematic on several fronts. First of all you have to encode date sequencing into the condition, but that could be taken care of via block numbers. Second, you need to agree on a metric of measure for the value, which I'm not sure how you would hard code into the contract. The ultimate goal, of course, is to allow two people to make a bet which neither can back out of. Now that the cryptocontract is generated, the public hash that represents it (or is it, again I'm not an expert on this stuff) needs to have TWO solutions or keys. That way owner 1, who is betting that $condition will be false owns it, and owner 2, who is betting that $condition will be true also owns it. As the specified block (or date) on the condition approaches, the contract naturally resolves to either true or false. In other words, just like a real options contract, it becomes either more or less likely to happen. See where I'm going with this? Just like a real options contract, it's not just about the cryptoasset and it's eventual resolution. The contract itself THEN also has a value and can be traded, sold, and bought. Right now if you want to do this, whether it's to wildly gamble or hedge your risk, you have to go through a central agency. But with my cryptocontract you don't have to. It's decentralized by design, anonymous so you don't even have to know or trust the person that you are creating the contract with, and resolves automatically so that no one can back out of the bet once made. Even better, if you later decide that you like the value of your current side of the contract at this moment and don't want to see it through to resolution, you can simply sell it on the open market. Here's an important part: Once the asset hits its expiration block, it AUTOMATICALLY resolves so that at that moment, only one of the private keys becomes valid and the other invalid, based on whether $condition is true. Once you can create a hash with two private solutions, it should be trivial to create one with multiple solutions, or even one with multiple conditions. Basically, you can then create a ladder of conditions with multiple owners all owning a slice of that cryptocontract. As the contract nears resolution and only one of those eventualities becomes true, one owner emerges and resolves at the specified time. Holy shit, this could even be used for elections and all sorts of other applications. Imagine an election with perfect transparency, with all voters assigned a way to 'bid' on the outcome of the cryptocontract, with each candidate owning a slice of that contract. When the contract resolves at 'final' election day, one candidate emerges. I just decentralized the 1.4 trillion derivatives market and solved the transparency problem with democracy, and it's not even noon yet. If one of you other geniuses makes this real, hit me up on Changetip. Consider this my first white paper, bitch. 2-dimensional and n-dimensional cryptocoins are a real, mathematical construct. Because they can exist, they will eventually exist. And they will be worth trillions of dollars. The only question is who will create and popularize them first? americanpegasus just changed the world. Again. edit #1 - 0902z - 14/12/14: I'm just realizing how such an asset would have initial value, and I'm thinking about how it would function. Would it be a side chain, or built upon the bitcoin block chain? It would have to be. Because in order for it to exist, value has to be input into it. For example, if I offer you such a contract, you have to buy it from me. The only way to make this happen is in bitcoins. So how would this work? Ok, let's let the cryptocontract be represented by the symbol &, and this particular contract, "The price of bitcoins will be greater than $1000 on June 1st, 2015" be 'b'. Also, let my stake in the contract be represented by &b-1 (believing it will happen), and yours represented as &b-0 (believing it will not happen). So I am offering &b-1 for sale. My price is approximately $350, or 1 bitcoin. Even if that's not a fair price, let's just assume it is for ease of illustration. I don't believe it will come true, and if you do, let's dance. You agree to purchase this asset, and so we have to create it on the network. To do that we'll need to both pay into a system so that we both have something at stake. I transfer a bitcoin into &b, and so do you. At this point we both own &b, as there are two private keys. By design, no value can be extracted from &b until the target block (resolution date) has passed. This prevents anyone from backing out of the bet. And at the target block (which it timed to occur around June 1st, 2015) one of our private keys is destroyed, and only the other remains, effectively granting us access to the 2 bitcoins stored within. Of course, throughout the contract process, the value of each of our keys fluctuates too. If it looks increasingly likely that condition will be true, the value of &b-1 approaches the limit of 2, while &b-0 approaches zero (worthless). But this method only allows the issuance of straight bets. It works as long as all the functions work, but there's a better way, and also the problem of external values still needs to be solved. I have a long drive home. I'll keep thinking about this. Ideas are welcome. I don't own math; we all do, I just want to help create it. edit #2 - 0936z - 14/12/14: Shit, what if value didn't NEED to be extracted? What if bitcoins were destroyed in the process of creating this cryptocontract (&)? Then the contract would by default have the value of 2 bitcoins because that's how much currency was destroyed in the creation of it. Then no 'extraction of value' is necessary. The asset (almost like a collectible trading card, but one created by literally burning money) only exists because two people agreed to destroy money to create it. And eventually, only one of them will own it. The value of 2 bitcoins in this object is inherent, as long as the faith of the cryptocontract system remains. edit 3: I figured it out. I solved the centralization issue. It obviously can't be based on a USD exchange set value. It either has to be one of two things. Either a fluctuating value determined by people's faith in buying what the contract represents.... or A globally observable and verifiable metric like total hash rate! Holy shit! Game theory for the win!
TL;DR: There are some fundamental issues with Diablo 3 which only a new game can fix. The issues are too far gone for a patch or even an expansion. I am not talking about the dead horse “Not-Gritty-Enough” or his cousin “Needs-more-Diablo-2” Blizzard is known for making high quality games, but they have begun moving in a direction I am uncomfortable with. Simplifying a game can only improve it so far, and after that point it degrades the game. Their goal seems to be to strip games down to only gameplay, removing all the extra bits. I don’t want a game that is all gameplay, and maybe at first you disagree with me. But, think about it. The times you have been dedicated to a game - it was because you could theorycraft for hours. You could write out on paper what you thought would work, and you could have that moment of realization that you may have the setup that breaks the current meta. You can still do that today in Diablo 3, but it’s not the same. The missing piece is not gameplay. The missing piece is complication, which is contrary to the game’s direction. There is a fine line between needlessly complicated and interestingly complicated, and to tow that line is perfection in a game like this. We will never be close to that line in Diablo 3. When Loot 2.0 came, it did wonders for this game. It introduced consistent gear options. One thing it did which was a step in the right direction was introduce complexity in elemental damage. Now, it matters what element you choose for your skills and you need to have the gear to match. This complexity was revitalizing to the game. That hype has worn off because a small amount of complexity can only take you so far. You have to tow that line between interestingly complicated and needlessly complicated to keep people going in a game like this. With this backdrop, I will list some of the problems with Diablo 3: . Tooltips do not update dynamically + DPS/Toughness/Healing estimations are bad for this game: These are combined at #1, because so many problems stem from these two issues. They are combined because each aggravates the other. We need something to filter down information (so that it’s not needlessly complicated!), but if that filter is misleading it’s useless. One of the biggest mistakes with diablo 3 is how it displays your damage. That average number never translates to actual damage. You can have a DPS of 1,000,000 and be dealing 10,000,000 damage per second, easily. The summary of stats into 3 numbers should have never been implemented. Instead, the focus should have been on having a dynamic tooltip system. It seems to me that there must be some link between the website database and the in-game database of tooltips, and this link prevents dynamic updates to tooltips. Do away with this link, it’s worth it. If that’s not the issue, do away with whatever is preventing this. If tooltips dynamically updated, AVERAGE players would be able to deal with an interestingly complex range of stats, not just the number-crunching players who eat that stuff up. This would also allow those players who want to dedicate lots of their time to this game to do so. Because there is no simple, clear showing of how much damage a skill does, adding complexity to stats can be overwhelming to the average player. . You can get the same stats from different systems: To explain the premise, I separate each source of stats into systems. A. Gear B. Paragon points C. Base Stats D. Gems (legendary or regular) E. skills/passives (buffs/debuffs). Each of these systems is separate from the other. You don’t get better gems from finding better gear, you don’t get higher paragon levels when you find or upgrade a gem, etc. These are separate systems. Adding systems to the game can be a good thing, but if you can get the same stats from two or more systems, all it does is increase power creep and reduce variety. Someone may argue that having the same stats in different systems allows you to round out your stats, but how often does this really happen? These systems just add padding to your stats, they don’t round them out. There is never a time when you say “I have enough Crit damage, let me take attack speed” or “I have enough Main stat, let me take vitality”. People will always take more damage because that’s what these stat systems allow you to do. The stat systems should have had unique stats. Imagine how much cooler gear would be if the only source of main stat was from your hero thru leveling. Aside from main stat being painfully boring, if it’s going to exist, it shouldn’t be available in every system. To fix this, assign each system specific stats that are not available in other systems. I’ve also gotten rid of stats that I think are boring. I’ve divided stats into the following systems: Main stats, Weapons, Gear, Gems, Paragon, Skills/passives. Main Stats: flat HP Weapons & Jewelry: flat Damage, percent Critical chance, percent lifesteal, percent attack speed, percent chance cast [skill] on-hit, percent splash damage, percent mana (resource) leech, Gear: flat Armor, flat single elemental resistance, percent Bonus damage for element, flat increase resource, flat life regen, flat resource regen, percent cast [skill] on being hit, flat block amount, percent chance [self-buff] on being hit Gems: percent HP, percent cooldown reduction, flat HP restored on-hit, percent armor increase of slotted armor, flat damage increase with [element], flat critical damage increase with [element], percent block amount Paragon (Reworked, 3 categories: aggression, deflection, utility. You choose a stat in each category to “emphasize”. Points are allocated automatically. Each point grants you some of each stat, but a little more of the emphasized stat for that category)
Aggression: percent critical damage, flat non-critical damage, percent chance [select status] on-hit, percent damage increase to elites Deflection: percent block chance, percent dodge chance, percent reduced damage from non-elites, percent reduced damage from [select element] Utility: percent HP regen, percent movement speed, percent increase to luck (chance to proc on-hit/on being hit effects), percent reduced debuff duration
Skills/passives: [unique effects not listed above aside from case on-hit/on being hit] . Constant rewards mentality: Rewards are nice, but when you get rewards from everything it becomes white noise. Some things you do should not reward you. In a game based on luck, sometimes you don’t win, and that’s OK. The greatest offender in this is the bounty system. Bounties have become the most painful thing in this game because you know what you’re getting and it’s the same as last time. They no longer serve a purpose past a time-sink chore. This is partially due to this “rewards mentality” doubling the legendary drop rate in rifts… This was welcomed by everyone but it’s not really what people wanted. We don’t want more rewards, we want jackpots. We want to gamble for that high-tier item, and if it doesn’t come for a week, OK. We already have a steady progression system baked in (paragon), we don’t need steady rewards as well. Keeping in mind the stat-systems allocations above: Main stats are increase thru leveling 1-70. Weapons/gear do not drop in rifts – only crafting materials drop (auto-pickup). The best source for weapons/gear is bosses/elites outside of rifts, although many legendary weapons/gear can now be crafted (quite expensive). Gems are commonly found from bounty bags and story bosses. Paragon levels are fastest earned doing rifts. Each thing you do should have a clear objective, but not always guaranteed a specific reward. . Bloated numbers: It’s become a joke at this point. Seriously, numbers need to come down. . Trading: Make all trading one on one only. Have a trading board people can post to. You can filter by players currently online. Have a section for orders. Person wants item X with certain stats, willing to pay Y amount. People can fill that order or even try to haggle a little. No items/currency go thru this system, it’s just a convenient way to broadcast what you want/have for sale. All trading is done in person. All items are tradeable, always, but stats go down by 3% (or w/e number) each time an item is traded. . No real weaknesses: Players do not have weaknesses, they have power levels. It’s not a matter of player X is weakest to monsters that apply poison, but player Y does just fine. The question is “are you strong enough?” And the answer is a boring YES or NO (read: binary). This game would be so great if strengths and weaknesses were emphasized. Make elemental resistances tie to status ailments and make status ailments something to be feared. A player should have weaknesses, not weakness. Take the sliding scale and split it up a little. There is your diversity. . PVP: You can have a PVE-esque PVP System in this game pretty easily. One could argue that Greater Rift competitions are like one drawn out PVP match in this sense. Create a game mode where people can spectate and place bets with gold. A two-section arena, where one player kills a monster, that same monster spawns in the other player’s section. Traps, destructible walls (that regenerate after x seconds) can all be used to the player’s benefit. More powerful monsters are added until one player is overwhelmed. Best out of 3 wins the match. This would be fun as long as monsters retain or are given their unique identities. . Monsters are becoming indistinguishable: Each monster should counter some kind of playstyle to some degree. This ties partially into the stat issues, in that players don’t have real weaknesses so status ailments are pointless 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time, it’s instant death anyways. If players have real weaknesses, then monsters can have diverse strengths. Take my PVP suggestion above, each time new monsters are added, there will be a chance that one player is given something they are weak against while the other player will be fine. This needs to happen, or we would just watch two barbarians whirlwinding on the monster spawn point for 5 mins before logging out. If monsters were diverse, you would need to pay attention to the kinds of monsters you are fighting. The bottom line with these ideas is that the game is too far gone for a simple patch or even an expansion. We need a new Diablo if these issues are to be addressed. I have played this game 100s maybe even 1ks of hours, and the Diablo franchise means a lot to me. Thanks for reading.
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