Category Archives: Features

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Naxxramas Revisited: Ranking The Impact of Every Curse of Naxxramas Card on Hearthstone

While it has become somewhat foolish to expect anything less than total success from Blizzard Entertainment, I must say that the growth of Hearthstone in just over a years time has simply astounded me.

It’s easy to point to the game’s sizeable player base and revenue numbers to really drive this point home, but as a somewhat religious player of Hearthsone, when I talk about growth in Hearthstone, what I’m talking about is content.

Looking back at the average Hearthstone game when I began playing in its beta stages compared to the game now reveals two entirely different animals. Hearthstone‘s meta game (a term used to describe the ever shifting value of certain cards, decks and strategies) has kept chugging along due in some part to the creative strategies of that aforementioned astounding player base, but largely because of the contributions of Blizzard, who have been routinely updating the game with card tweaks, updates and of course, expansions.

The latest expansion (the PvE style adventure mode Blackrock Mountain) released this past Thursday, and even though we’ve only been able to experience one of it’s five weekly released wings, already it has left a footprint on the game’s meta, that has Hearthstone players everywhere going headstrong into the breach once more battling against the winds of change.

It’s also left me thinking about the last Hearthstone expansion we got, Curse of Naxxramas. Released in July of 2014, Naxxramas was the first substantial injection of new content into Hearthstone, and its overwhelming success forever set the benchmark for expansions.

But as I said, Hearthstone is a game that changes quickly. So, in honor of the release of the newest adventure, I thought it might be fun to look back on  Naxxramas to determine just what cards have left the biggest impact on the game’s meta.

Largely, then, these rankings are based on the overall effect they had on the game, but in cases of cards that are about equal, the tiebreaker went to overall quality.

Let’s get started.

29. Stoneskin Gargoyle

Gargoyle

Not much to say on this one. Bad stats, heavily dependent on elaborate scenarios for even theoretical uses and possess an ability that’s more unique than it is genuinely useful.

Pretty much everybody thought it was going to be bad at the start of Naxxramas, and they were right.

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Why It’s Time We Finally Pay Friday the 13th for the NES A Little Respect

*It’s been a long  break since my last post. Maybe I’ll break that down later, but for now let’s talk about Friday the 13th

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Wait.

Before you start, I just want to let you know that I’m not trying to say Friday the 13th is a good game. It’s quite far from it. In fact, I can’t imagine the scenario wherein I would say to a gamer, regardless of their age or gaming experience; “Hey, you know what you should play? Friday the motherfucking 13th for the NES.”  In fact, I’m not even trying to argue that the game is some kind of underrated experience, or hidden gem that’s value has only revealed itself after the years have weathered away the earth and dirt that once covered it, leaving us with only a glint of something beautiful that we can truly admire.

Friday the 13th for the NES is not that gem. But it is what I used to refer to in my youth as a “shiny stone.” A shiny stone is ultimately just a worthless rock. However, it may have glints of minerals or some other crystalized formation that give it just a little more merit than the average stone. Not enough to make it an irreplaceable piece of history mind you, but just compelling enough to keep with you longer than you otherwise would.

But let’s back up a bit for the unfamiliar. Why is Friday the 13th for the NES so hated?

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10 Years Later: Half-Life 2

This is the 30th, and final, part of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

At no point was Half-Life 2 just a game.

Following the cliffhanger ending of the legendary Half-Life, the idea of its sequel was a pipe dream. One that’s grandeur and impossibility seemed to grow with each year, as the hype train rolled along with a fury never before seen by the industry.

At the time of its release, Half-Life 2 stopped the world (not to mention, the still young Steam service). November 16, 2004 was a day that seemed surreal to many. The sight of Half-Life 2 on your computer was a real “pinch-me” moment. Even before you booted it up, that sensation it provided damn near justified the 6 year long wait.

After its release? Well, we’re living in that world now. One where Half-Life 2 has achieved god-like status, and the mere idea of a follow-up has become a cultural phenomenon on-par with any actual release in the series so far.

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10 Years Later – Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

This is part 29 of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

To me, there’s a strong difference between “loved,” and “beloved.”

Beloved is a word that implies more of a deep, unquestionable fondness for something. Even when you love something, you can readily admit to its faults. When something is beloved, though, it’s reached this point where your affection for it is well-beyond reason, yet at the same time, seems to be a perfectly logical emotion, based on the thing itself.

A big part of the reason that Nintendo has one of the more…shall we say ‘enthusiastic’ fanbases out there, is that they tend to deal heavily in the production of games aimed at achieving the beloved status. That’s certainly the case with Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.

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10 Years Later – Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

This is part 28 of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

In 2004, I can safely say I knew nothing about the Warhammer 40k universe, aside from the fact that it existed. This may not sound like a big deal, but among my friends, it was a mortal sin.

From what I was able to gleam of that whole universe, it seemed interesting enough. The trouble was that every time someone would try to fill me in on the particulars regarding it, they would launch into this half-hour diatribe that you tend to encounter when you mix super-fandom and a fictional universe with years and years of history to cover.

The result of these sit-down conversations was the distinct feeling that I was on the brink of something fairly intriguing, but could never really get the proper introduction required to really bridge the gap, and get me to the land of fandom properly.

But then came a real-time-strategy game set within the Warhammer universe called Dawn of War. With it arrived an introduction trailer of particular merit. This one, in fact:

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10 Years Later – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

This is part 27 of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

The argument of which Grand Theft Auto game is the best, is one that I’m constantly thrilled to find myself engaged in, simply because there is a strong argument to be made that any of them deserve the title.

Maybe you prefer the overhead, arcade style simplicity of the original installments. Perhaps the revolutionary third title holds an inescapable nostalgic appeal for you. If Vice City‘s 80′s throwback era charmed the pants off of you, who could blame you? Then again, GTA: IV‘s dark tones or GTA: V‘s air tight mechanics and technical majesty, may just be your cup of tea.

There’s a case to be made for any in the GTA series to be the greatest, as each possess their own unique quality which separates them from the pack, and ultimately boils that discussion down to the tried and true qualifier of personal preference.

Now, that being said, if you ever try to argue with me that there is any GTA game bigger than San Andreas, then prepare for a verbal thrashing my good fellow.

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10 Years Later: The Sims 2

This is part 26 of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

You know, I really wish this was a retrospective on The Sims rather than The Sims 2.

Why? Because I’m feeling lazy today and, if you’re feeling lazy yet are slightly obligated to continue a retrospective column, there are few games easier to dwell on than the original Sims.

It’s a treasure trove of easy nostalgia and mind-blowing figures. Not only do many gamers have fond memories of the title, but as it was quite a few people’s first taste of emergent gameplay (i.e. Make your own fun gameplay in a world without many borders), those same memories have that unique quality of being both personal to each user, and culturally shared by everyone else who experienced The Sims.

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10 Years Later – The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap/Four Swords Adventures

This is part 25 of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

As a general rule, any year you get a Zelda game is a pretty damn good year.

Why? Well, unlike say, oh I don’t know…Star Wars, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Alien, Austin Powers, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man, Transformers, Silent Hill, Madden, Bomberman, Resident Evil, Sonic and quite a few other franchises from the various corners of the entertainment world, Nintendo is careful to make each entrant into the Zelda series not only worthwhile and true to form, but usually a reasonable contender for the best of its kind yet.

And during 2004, we were gifted with not one, but two brand spanking new Legend of Zelda games to drool over.

Well…sort of.

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10 Years Later: Unreal Tournament 2004

This is part 24 of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

In 1787, the governing bodies of the emerging United States reached an agreement regarding the proportionate power each state would have in the new democracy. It might not sound like much, but the agreement they reached was so integral to forming the new government to come, that it is now known as “The Great Compromise.”

Pretty impressive title when you think about it. I mean, considering that life is often a series of compromises, for one compromise above them all to be considered the great one, is certainly something.

But if you ask me, that label is just hyperbole. In my mind, the true greatest compromise didn’t happen in 1787 America, but actually occurred in the video game industry during the year 2004.

You may know this compromise as Unreal Tournament 2004.

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10 Years Later – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

This is part 23 of a month-long look at the games of 2004. To see the other parts, click here.

At the age of 13, I experienced the first major heartbreak of my life. You may know it as Metal Gear Solid 2.

Though it may have featured some truly incredible graphics, and much improved gameplay, there came a point where I realized that MGS 2 was not going to fulfill the expectations the stellar Metal Gear Solid had imparted in me. It’s hard to say the exact moment this realization occurred, but somewhere between the infamous “Raiden-twist,” and any of the 40 minute cutscene made up of absolute gibberish, I lost hope.

It was a tough moment, but I learned to get over it. I came to accept the original Metal Gear Solid as a one-off passionate infatuation, moved on to the Splinter Cell series and eventually learned to forget about the franchise all-together.

That may sound deflating, but actually it was perfect. In fact, having to suffer through Metal Gear Solid 2 became immediately justified the moment I realized that it put me in just the right mindset to be blown away by Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

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