Thursday, 28 April 2016

US Election 2016 - End of the Line

US Election 2016


End of the Line


As the US presidential primaries roll to their close, we've now reached a point where we can come to some relatively final conclusions about both the Democratic and Republican campaigns.

I'll elaborate on these conclusions shortly, but here they are for now:

It's the end of the line for Sanders' campaign. Senator Sanders' campaign to get on the Democratic Presidential ticket was an extraordinary triumph: that a candidate with little to no nation-wide organisation, relatively little funding, and little to no national visibility has managed to do as well against a candidate with a fully fleshed-out organisation, piles of money, and a national profile stretching back decades is nothing short of astonishing. In the end, though, it wasn't enough. Unless Sanders' campaign does amazingly well in the remaining part of the primary, Clinton will win.

Trump (aka Yuuuge Lying Demagogue) might just clinch the nomination. With massively decisive results this month, he's just 284 delegates back from having enough of them to avoid a contested Republican convention in the summer. With the potential for big gains in the remaining winner-take-most and winner-take-all states, and the likelihood of capturing at least some of the remaining states, such a victory now appears entirely achievable. In short, it might be the end of the line for the Cruz and Kasich campaigns. The question is, what does this mean for the Republican Party and the country?

I'll make extensive use of the New York Times' primary calendar for information.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A Quick Peek Under the Covers: Empire of Dirt

A Quick Peek Under the Covers

Episode 3: Empire of Dirt


Welcome to another episode of A Quick Peek Under the Covers, in which we look at cover versions of songs which, bucking the usual trend, are as good as or better than the originals.

This time around, we're going to look at "Hurt", by Nine Inch Nails, and the cover by Johnny Cash.

Image credit Interscope Records

Monday, 25 April 2016

Whispers of the Old Gods - Card Review 7

Whispers of the Old Gods

Card Review - Part 7


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Here we go with a batch more cards to examine and review.

Blizzard recently unveiled what appears to be the all the rest of the cards in the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion last week. In the last post, I reviewed the class cards. This post will look at the remaining neutral cards, and will therefore constitute the remainder of the expansion content.

Before proceeding, let's recapitulate the rating system:
Excellent - Can't go wrong with this in your deck; it will probably become standard fare.
Good - A more or less excellent card for specific kinds of decks.
Fair - Situationally useful, perhaps as a utility or "tech" card, but not a mainstay addition.
Poor - If you have nothing better to use, go ahead. Poor cards are probably still serviceable, but are underpowered relative to higher-performing cards.
Terrible - Probably best not to run this.
Millhouse Manastorm - Embarassingly bad, up to the point where you're handing your opponent the game.

As noted in previous posts, the cards' relative utility may shift because of balance changes to the existing cards, and the removal of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas content from Standard play format remains in effect.

(N.B. All images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.)

Friday, 22 April 2016

Whispers of the Old Gods - Card Review 6

Whispers of the Old Gods

Card Review - Part 6


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Here we go with a batch more cards to examine and review.

Blizzard recently unveiled what appears to be the all the rest of the cards in the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion during a stream yesterday. They released so many cards, in fact, that the site I usually link to for the cards (Hearthhead) hasn't, as of this writing, had time to put them all up yet! By my count I have about 65 cards to review. So without further ado, let's get cracking.

Before proceeding, let's recapitulate the rating system:
Excellent - Can't go wrong with this in your deck; it will probably become standard fare.
Good - A more or less excellent card for specific kinds of decks.
Fair - Situationally useful, perhaps as a utility or "tech" card, but not a mainstay addition.
Poor - If you have nothing better to use, go ahead. Poor cards are probably still serviceable, but are underpowered relative to higher-performing cards.
Terrible - Probably best not to run this.
Millhouse Manastorm - Embarassingly bad, up to the point where you're handing your opponent the game.

As noted in previous posts, the cards' relative utility may shift because of balance changes to the existing cards, and the removal of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas content from Standard play format remains in effect.

In this post, we're going to look at class cards. With all the new content and so little time before the expansion drops, I'm probably going to try to look at all of them. (Oof!)

(N.B. All images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Hearthstone Nerfs

Hearthstone Players and the Swinging Nerf Bat


If you play Hearthstone on a regular basis, you will have heard that, in conjunction with the new expansion and the introduction of play formats, Blizzard Entertainment is revising several cards in existing sets - mainly, so far, the Basic and/or Classic sets (the sets that will never get removed from Standard format).

Now, in theory cards could be revised to be more or less powerful or effective. In practice, so far they are made less powerful.

In gaming circles, the phenomenon of reducing the power level of a game component (whether a card, a player's special ability, or other playing piece) is known as "nerfing", an homage to Hasbro's Nerf line of products.

So, let's look at how Blizzard has swung the Nerf bat at Hearthstone, shall we?

The reasons for some of the nerfs were revealed today, when Blizzard revealed a batch more cards for Whispers of the Old Gods. We'll get to those later.

(N.B. All images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.)

A Nerf bat. Image credit: Hasbro.


Whispers of the Old Gods - Card Review 5

Whispers of the Old Gods

Card Review - Part 5


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Here we go with a batch more cards to examine and review.

To keep things simple for myself, I'm going to review cards once they are available on Hearthstone's Facebook page, even if they've been revealed elsewhere. Now that I'm starting to run out of cards there (unless they bring in a big batch), I'll look elsewhere for the next post.

Before proceeding, let's recapitulate the rating system:

Excellent - Can't go wrong with this in your deck; it will probably become standard fare.
Good - A more or less excellent card for specific kinds of decks.
Fair - Situationally useful, perhaps as a utility or "tech" card, but not a mainstay addition.
Poor - If you have nothing better to use, go ahead. Poor cards are probably still serviceable, but are underpowered relative to higher-performing cards.
Terrible - Probably best not to run this.
Millhouse Manastorm - Embarassingly bad, up to the point where you're handing your opponent the game.

As noted in previous posts, the cards' relative utility may shift because of balance changes to the existing cards and the removal of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas content from Standard play format.

Last post, we looked at a number of smaller neutral cards, and a few class cards. This time, we're looking at mostly larger neutral minions, with a few class cards thrown in for good measure.

(N.B. All images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Whispers of the Old Gods - Card Review 4

Whispers of the Old Gods

Card Review - Part 4


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Here we go with a batch more cards to examine and review.

To keep things simple for myself, I'm going to review cards once they are available on Hearthstone's Facebook page, even if they've been revealed elsewhere.

Before proceeding, let's recapitulate the rating system:
Excellent - Can't go wrong with this in your deck; it will probably become standard fare.
Good - A more or less excellent card for specific kinds of decks.
Fair - Situationally useful, perhaps as a utility or "tech" card, but not a mainstay addition.
Poor - If you have nothing better to use, go ahead. Poor cards are probably still serviceable, but are underpowered relative to higher-performing cards.
Terrible - Probably best not to run this.
Millhouse Manastorm - Embarassingly bad, up to the point where you're handing your opponent the game.

As noted in previous posts, the cards' relative utility may shift because of balance changes to the existing cards and the removal of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas content from Standard play format.

Last post, we looked at a big batch of class cards. Today we're going to look at some of the remaining class cards currently on the Hearthstone Facebook page. We'll also look at some of the smaller (that is, lower mana cost) minions.

(N.B. All images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.)

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Whispers of the Old Gods - Card Review 3

Whispers of the Old Gods

Card Review - Part 3


Part 1
Part 2

Here we go with a batch more cards to examine and review.

To keep things simple for myself, I'm going to review cards once they are available on Hearthstone's Facebook page, even if they've been revealed elsewhere.

Before proceeding, let's recapitulate the rating system:

Excellent - Can't go wrong with this in your deck; it will probably become standard fare.
Good - A more or less excellent card for specific kinds of decks.
Fair - Situationally useful, perhaps as a utility or "tech" card, but not a mainstay addition.
Poor - If you have nothing better to use, go ahead. Poor cards are probably still serviceable, but are underpowered relative to higher-performing cards.
Terrible - Probably best not to run this.
Millhouse Manastorm - Embarassingly bad, up to the point where you're handing your opponent the game.

As noted in previous posts, the cards' relative utility may shift because of balance changes to the existing cards and the removal of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas content from Standard play format.

(N.B. All images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.)

For this post, we're going to look at some of the class cards revealed thus far. So far we've seen the druid and warrior cards, and some of the other classes' legendary cards, so let's take a look at some of the others.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Whispers of the Old Gods - Card Review 2

Whispers of the Old Gods

Card Review - Part 2


Part 1

Here we go with a batch more cards to examine and review.

To keep things simple for myself, I'm going to review cards once they are available on Hearthstone's Facebook page.

Before proceeding, let's recapitulate the rating system:

Excellent - Can't go wrong with this in your deck; it will probably become standard fare.
Good - A more or less excellent card for specific kinds of decks.
Fair - Situationally useful, perhaps as a utility or "tech" card, but not a mainstay addition.
Poor - If you have nothing better to use, go ahead. Poor cards are probably still serviceable, but are underpowered relative to higher-performing cards.
Terrible - Probably best not to run this.
Millhouse Manastorm - Embarassingly bad, up to the point where you're handing your opponent the game.

The caveat from last post (that the cards' relative utility may shift because of balance changes to the existing cards and the removal of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas content from Standard play format) remains in effect.

(N.B. All images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.)

For this post, we're going to look at the other legendary cards revealed in the set thus far. We're also going to look at the small group of cards with an interesting mechanic: the "Forbidden" mechanic.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Whispers of the Old Gods - Card Review 1

Whispers of the Old Gods

Card Review - Part 1


As some of you may know, I'm a regular player of Blizzard Entertainment's multiplayer collectible card game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and I have to say I'm pretty stoked by the upcoming release of the new expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods.

I've been poring over the cards, and I'd like to take the time to share my thoughts on them.

Right now, just about half the set has been released for us to peruse. Blizzard releases a few more each day. To ensure I have the lot reviewed by the time the expansion goes live, I'm going to look at a hefty number of cards: around 14 at a time!

Please note that all images are property of Blizzard Entertainment unless otherwise specified.

Before we get down to business, here's the entertaining trailer: