D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 9 Recap

Returning to the ground floor of the Sacred Stone Monastery our heroes meet a friendly lich, hordes of monk cultists, and the Abbess of Stone herself.

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Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

The unexpected can make for some supremely fun and memorable moments in tabletop role-playing. It’s a two-way street. Players often do things that will take me completely by surprise, and part of the DM’s skillbook is how to react to that. Sometimes though, I can throw a fun monkey wrench at my players and watch events unfold exactly as planned – like Renwick the friendly lich.

This week my players had finished mopping up the Sacred Stone Monastery basement, and were intrigued about a well guarded door in the crypt. Having fought the zombie guards and survived the Cloudkill glyph, they prepared for a tough battle. They opened the door and were surprised to find stairs that lead back up to the monastery.

Inside was a lich. Renwick is a few centuries old and has a neat backstory involving the creation of the paladin order that Kalinaar once ascribed too – the Knights of Samular. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 9 Recap”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers Academy, Vol. 1-2

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Avengers Academy Vol 1Writer: Christos Gage

Artists: Mike McKone, Sean Chen, Tom Raney

Issues: Avengers Academy (2010) #1-13

 

A Young Adult series starring the next generation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has been done before, as recently as Avengers: The Initiative. While the Initiative series was mired in large events like World War Hulk and Secret Invasion, Avengers Academy is given ample time to breathe and grow during Marvel’s post-Siege Heroic Age. The result is one of the best YA, coming of age stories in Marvel comics.

Avengers Academy stars half a dozen wide-eyed, super-powered teenagers, all of whom naturally developed gifts and were starting to get molded by Norman Osborn during his Dark Reign. When Osborn went down, these kids were identified as high risk, and the most likely to someday become super villains – a fun plot twist the kids themselves find out in the first issue.

Thus Hank Pym starts the Avengers Academy. It’s obviously analogous to the X-Men’s own School for Gifted Youngsters – particularly the excellent New X-Men comic that ran from 2004 to 2008. The X-Men’s school has been shut down since the 2008 event Messiah Complex, however. I’m glad to see Avengers Academy pick up the “young kids with powers” story, and do so incredibly well with it. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers Academy, Vol. 1-2”

Heroes of the Dorm Made Me an Esports Fan [Playboy]

My love of Heroes of the Storm never translated to the competitive esports scene, until Heroes of the Dorm.

Read the full article at Playboy

heroes of the dorm

I love the Blizzard game Heroes of the Storm. But despite its growing popularity as an esport, I’d never cared much about the competitive scene. That all changed when I spotted my wife’s alma mater among the college teams on the bracket for Blizzard’s second annual “Heroes of the Dorm” tournament. I suddenly found myself tuning into broadcasts and cheering on my adopted team. I learned about popular strategies and costly mistakes. I watched scrappy underdogs win against all odds, while big favorites fell apart. I forged a love for insightful commentary, risky gameplay, and college rivalries. I became a fan.

Heroes of the Dorm is the first of its kind—a college esports competition broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3. This year the tournament returned more popular than ever, and could be viewed on on Twitch, YouTube, ESPN2 and ESPNU. The Final Four and Grand Finale air today and tomorrow.

“Heroes of the Dorm is so cool because we’re from this culture that recognizes the growth of esports and how it provides a really positive form of entertainment,” says Adam Rosen, co-founder of college esports organization TESPA. “You tune into an average esports competition, you might not know who Evil Geniuses or Team Liquid are. You tune into ESPN and see Cal Berkeley vs Arizona State in the finals and you’re gonna have some affiliation with those schools.”

Read the full article at Playboy

Stardew Valley Review [Pixelkin]

Many mobile and social games have used farming gameplay to great success. Stardew Valley elevates the genre into something truly unique and special.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Farming games have existed since the 90s with the likes of Sim Farm and Harvest Moon. In recent years many mobile and social games like Farmville have used the rewarding feedback of growing your own crops to great success. Stardew Valley puts them all to shame, and elevates the genre into something truly unique and special.

After creating your pixelated character you re-discover a letter from your dying grandfather inviting you to take over some farmland in a rural village. You leave your mundane office job and set out to Pelican Town to start a new life.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Weekly D&D Programming Update

Due to connection woes, we’re going to stop live streaming and just record our D&D sessions. Uploads to YouTube on Monday!

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Hey everyone,

Lately my ability to stream has gone down the toilet. My internet connection has never been great, but it’s always been good enough.

In the last few weeks, however, I can’t live stream without dropping about 80% of the frames. Anyone that’s tried to drop into our Sunday evening live streams have noticed how unwatchable that is. My upload speed remains the same and I’m unsure what the specific culprit is, but it’s not going away.

Since it also records and uploads to YouTube, it’s starting to drag the quality of our recorded videos down as well. The solution is to just stop live streaming altogether.

Instead I will record our sessions on Sunday evening, and upload them on Monday. The majority of our viewership and audience interaction comes from these archived YouTube videos anyway, and now the quality should vastly improve.

We really appreciate all the views and comments on our adventures and here on my blog. “Princes of the Apocalypse” is well under way and should last us throughout the year. If my connection woes ever improve we can try live streaming again, but for now you can watch our weekly adventures on my YouTube channel, and read about them here on my bog every Monday.

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 8 Recap

The party explores the mines beneath the Sacred Stone Monastery, freeing prisoners, battling guards, and tripping arcane traps.

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Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

When my players are roaming around the world trying to figure out where to go and what to do, I’m a nervous wreck. With dungeon crawls, however, I’m in my element. D&D has a lot of dungeon crawls, and “Princes of the Apocalypse” is no exception.

Each dungeon features some unique hooks, denizens, and geography. In the Sacred Stone Monastery it’s the nifty Umber Hulk trap I sprung last week. This week’s session was a bit less exciting. But I enjoyed my players’ nervously shuffling through the dark winding mines having been weakened and drained from the last battle.

The mines aren’t a terribly safe place to rest but my players needed a breather. Thankfully D&D 5E has the Short Rest mechanic, which seems designed explicitly to allow some mid-dungeon breaks without completely leaving and setting up tents.

I had a patrolling orog (slightly tougher orc) wander by but the PCs chose not to engage. Not every enemy sighting has to lead straight to combat, and I like giving my players as many options as possible – even if they simply choose the straightforward path most of the time. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 8 Recap”

13 XCOM 2 Tips to Keep Your Soldiers Alive [Pixelkin]

Several crucial tips and guides to help you win the war against the alien menace.

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

xcom 2

Greetings, Commander. The aliens continue their stranglehold over our planet. You and the brave men and women fighting for XCOM are our secret weapon. Many soldiers died bringing you these invaluable tips, so that others may live. Keep fighting and we’ll win this war. Good luck, Commander.

Know the Timing on the Avatar Project

The only way you can really lose XCOM 2 is if the Avatar Project is completed. However even when the bar fills up, a 20-day countdown timer begins. You get a bit of a grace period to immediately launch an assault on the nearest enemy base. Make sure you’ve been making the right contacts and always have a base to infiltrate when the counter gets too high.

Base Management

XCOM 2 is pretty forgiving when it comes to building your facilities. Prioritizing which to build first is largely a matter of preference. Build that Guerrilla Tactics School ASAP, as it provides the upgrades needed to field additional soldiers. Stick it in one of the top corners. You’ll also want your Workshop somewhere in the middle. It’s the only building that cares about adjacency, and you can staff an engineer to then staff nearby buildings via remote gremlins.

Read the full guide at Pixelkin