Dungeons and Dragons: I’ve Finally Levelled Up My Nerd Status

Zack "The New Hire" Layton

I’ve finally done it. After growing up with watching movies/T.V. shows of people playing Dungeons and Dragons, (while never playing it myself), I finally experienced my first adventure.

My fellow Replay Value co-worker, Darcy joined me with 4 of our other friends. One thing I do need to note is that we played this through Skype using an online site Roll20 to connect us with someone online who can create an adventure and DM for us. (I also finally learned what DM means; Dungeon Master).

Before I started setting up my character, I had no clue how much detail there would be in setting one up.

The Set Up

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I decided to create a level 3 Half-Elf Sorcerer named Zarnon Manwë and I focused so hard on the details within my character. It pretty much took a week for me to build my character and I spent that time reading through the manual.

As the only “noob” on the team, I made it my goal to “wow” them with my rich character background and information. I spent time researching Elf names, the specific meaning, my name in Elf, and the meaning of my name in Elf. However, no one said a peep and for the record, Manwë is Zack in Elf, which means “Pure.” (I hope my team is reading this now and feels bad).

After letting go of my ego, I finally finished everything and let my team know that I was ready to start.

The Execution

            Before the start of the adventure, I was nervous because I didn’t want to let down my team, especially since I put so much work into creating my character/backstory. When we actually started, it was a bit of a slow burn, which was fair since we were all new at using Skype to play D&D. After 5 hours of playing, we decided to stop after leaving a tavern to speak to a priest who is important in the story.

All in all, I believe it was a success. Our DM did a great job in immersing us into the story and fleshing out specific traits of our characters. She created a really intriguing story that made all of us keep guessing one after another and she was also able to successfully lead us on to the next story arc, so we that didn’t get stuck.

I’m really interested to see how our characters progress in the story. One interesting thing that happened was that she started developing the story by connecting my characters backstory in it. I’m intrigued to see where this will lead us.

The WTF Moment

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As successful as our adventure was so far, there were some “interesting” situations that occurred. For starters, we learned that Darcy made his character to be a horny, “I’ll screw anything that moves,” character and it definitely added some crazy elements to the story.

Throughout the game, our team kept rolling our eyes or sighing because Darcy went to go talk to another female character. Also, my character is apparently in a love triangle already with Darcy’s character and one of the female leads? Well, I guess we shall see how that plays out in the future.

Another interesting moment that occurred was when our self-proclaimed leader, Darcy, went to go attack these wolves that were attacking people, blindly. Now I assumed there was something “fishy” about these wolves, but I wasn’t able to communicate that before Darcy screamed “ATTACK!” Of course, this was a fatal mistake.

This lead to him being surrounded by all of the wolves and the team had to now focus on saving Darcy, instead of the people who were being attacked by these wolves. I really hope Darcy’s character can learn what it means to be a team player!

End Result

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All in all, I really enjoyed starting this adventure with the team. Besides Darcy’s irrational battle strategy, I really think we worked well together! Who knows, maybe Darcy’s actions brought us together to work as a team to save him? One thing to say though is that our team would definitely not be the same without him!

I’m really excited to continue our journey and for the future shenanigans to occur. So far, everyone on the team has pulled their weight and I can’t wait to experience new adventures with them soon! Plus, I didn’t embarrass my self, so I guess that’s a plus right?

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Rank Up: My Quest for Skill in Heroes of The Storm (Part Three) “How I got to Silver”

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Darcy Selke "Editor in Chief"

Welcome to the final installation of my quest for a proper rank in Heroes of The Storm. If you haven’t already you can check out my first games here and here. Last week I was incredible and won almost all my matches.

Game 8: Use The Stun (Win)

So the game started off with a guy saying the n word right off the bat so I was already expecting this to be a shit show. Weirdly though the game went fine. No one raged, everyone communicated normally after that, it was like having someone yell a racist term but then sit down for a proper dissertation.

So we won this game by basically just putting pressure on Abathur instantly, I find Abathur is useful for gaining map control so if you hem him in early, he can’t really pressure you because the rest of the map is so unsafe for him.

Stop Abathur, get the win. Simple Enough.

Toxicity Levels: Low

Despite the random racist comment right at the beginning the game was pretty mild. One guy was getting all angry because people were “pinging too much” but I mean he didn’t rage, he just muted the pings and moved on.

Sorta…you know… what you should do if that stuff is bugging you. Other than that the team communicated and everyone basically followed the same strategy.

Work together, get the win.

My Score

Muradin Game 8.png

So again, as per my other Muradin Game, we got the win but I didn’t lead in any category. I think sometimes stats can be a distraction. When I play Muradin I use his stuns to set up kills for other people which I would expect to be reflected in the “Assist” Category but everyone else was getting them too.

It’s sort of like that guy in sports who does the little things right. I think if you watched the game you’d see I played well, helped set up kills and got the “W” but it wouldn’t show just from box scores.

Game 9: Salty Team loses Salty Game (Loss)

Yikes, this game was a rough one. I actually think I did really well but my team was just complaining non stop. Diablo would run in and die to 4 people and then say it was someone else’s fault. You’ll see when I post my score…he uhh…he did not have a good game.

Anyway I think we coulda won but honestly people were just spamming chat and pings and everything to a point I just tuned it out. I know I say “communication” is key in a game like this but there’s a difference between “not shutting up” and “communication”. It was all complaints too, everyone just blaming everyone else, ugh just an ugly ugly game.

Toxicity Levels: High

Not to high on the racist or derogatory terms but just in general. Everyone in this game was just mad. Mad when they died, mad when they lost an objective, and nothing was ever there fault.

I was going to type stuff back to them explaining why I was laning (hint: it’s because getting level 10 is very important) but honestly it just wasn’t worth it. Once I saw Diabloe dive in past 4 people and ask where I was I figured this is gonna be one of those kinda games.

My Score

Falstaad Game 9.png

 

Ahh there it is I went 6-3, did a bunch of dmg and contributed the most XP. I know I just said stats don’t tell you everything but I’m going to also give you the flip side. If you’ve died 7 times and only have 1 kill and your healer has died 5 times with only 1 kill it means you’re not surviving team fights and neither is he. Something is wrong.

Basically out team got caught out of position and no one really wanted to help. Diablo just kept running into fights with 0 set up, Uther didn’t do a great job healing him and all of these fights were picked when I wasn’t even near the team.

Blech glad to get that one’s taste outta my mouth.

Game 10: Overcoming a Bad Team Comp (Loss)

Team make ups in many ways can make or break you. In this last game we had 2 tanks, a Healer and 2 Specialists. That’s right, no damage dealer.

To start this off the “captain” who gets to pick banes etc. “went to the washroom” and missed both chances to ban people, then came back and picked a 2nd specialist. For those of you who don’t play HOTS, it’s like picking another QB for your football team when you need someone to run the ball.

So we’re off to a bad start and it’s pretty clear this guy is doing it just to troll the team. But I figure you know what? It’s my last game, I’ll play healer, I’ll mute the troll and i’ll just do my best.

And it worked!

Toxicity Levels: Low

The rest of the team quickly realised this Murky was just trying to troll us but to their credit that didn’t stop them either. Everyone sill played their role including the Murky. It made the game tougher at the beginning but I didn’t see any in-game chat of them yelling at him or anything.

My Score

Uther Game 10.png

 

So even though I think the Murky pick was a troll I can’t deny he did his job so maybe i’m wrong. Even still, don’t be that guy. Your team needs a healer just pick the damn healer okay?

I actually out-healed the Lucio and I don’t really know how that happened, that’s not really a thing that should ever happen. I guess the map sort of favoured us, Dragonshire tends to split teams up pretty nicely but still.

I felt really good about that game which led to me finally being placed in….

Rank Silver.png

So there it is! Silver League, that actually feels pretty good considering a few of my losses were legitimately out of my control.

I can’t wait to start my next quest to get Gold!

Rank Up: My Quest for Skill in Heroes of The Storm (Part Two) “All I Do Is Win Win Win”

Darcy Selke "Editor in Chief"

Hey everyone and welcome back to my quest for skill in Heroes of The Storm. Last week I played my first ranked matches and went a respectable 1-2. Placement matches are weird because in some games (like the ones I’m about to talk about) you get matches with people who just look like they’ve never played before, followed up by games where it feels like you’re in MLG.

Game 4: Relaxation (Win)

Ah the perfect reflection of MOBA culture. 3 Minutes in someone on our team dies and one guy will just will NOT let it go. “GG” “Noob” “This Naz” etc etc.

Basically if you play a MOBA, you know this person, if things are not going perfectly they’re commenting on everything you’re doing. You’re struggling? Oh trust me this guy noticed.

We ended up winning because you don’t really lost games 3 minutes in. Once we hit level 10, team fighting became easier we won the objectives and ultimately we won pretty easily after that.

Toxicity Levels: Medium

Yeah this guy playing Uther was just a Grade A Asshole, Naz wasn’t doing what he wanted and so all game he was just riding him.

The most random part was when we won Naz actually acted like the whole team had been talking shit. So he goes off on how he “saved them team” blah blah, man it was like, no one was worried we were gonna lose except these two and they acted like it was them against the world.

My Score

Artanis Game 4.png

Ignore the “My Fault”, I was just being nice, but yeah 4-3 not bad. I didn’t lead in any stat but I think my ability to swap people into the rest of my team gave us a few team fight wins. Not my best game but definitely not bad.

Game 5: STOMPED (Win)

This game took 10 minutes,

Basically our whole team was built on keeping people together and wailing on them. They had a team of all melee heroes so every team fight was like running into a line of machine guns for them.

Toxicity Levels: None

There wasn’t even enough time.

My Score

Okay so I don’t remember what I got and because the game was so quick I forgot to take a screen cap. SORRY but lets say I went like 1-2 or something, and I was playing Tassadar.

Game 6: The Grandmaster (Win)

Ah the perfect reflection of MOBA culture. 3 Minutes in someone on our team dies and one guy will just will NOT let it go. “GG” “Noob” “This Naz” etc etc.

Basically if you play a MOBA, you know this person, if things are not going perfectly they’re commenting on everything you’re doing. You’re struggling? Oh trust me this guy noticed.

We ended up winning because you don’t really lost games 3 minutes in. Once we hit level 10, team fighting became easier we won the objectives and ultimately we won pretty easily after that.

Toxicity Levels: Medium

Yeah this guy playing Uther was just a Grade A Asshole, Naz wasn’t doing what he wanted and so all game he was just riding him.

The most random part was when we won Naz actually acted like the whole team had been talking shit. So he goes off on how he “saved them team” blah blah, man it was like, no one was worried we were gonna lose except these two and they acted like it was them against the world.

My Score

Lucio Game  6.png

I mean what more can I say, 103 k in healing? I might be the best Lucio to ever play the game. Seriously tho, he’s one of the most OP heroe’s in the game. So long as you know how to click and stay around your team, you’ll be fine.

Game 7: How to Throw Away a Game (Loss)

So this game started weirdly with someone wanting to pick Abathur no matter what our team needed. (We need tanks and healers). He finally switched and picks Xul instead. With him and our Samuro constantly pushing/getting camps it meant we couldn’t team fight because we were always down two people.

We finally rally late and have one last attempt to push the core and win and these guys decide to go get camps…so naturally we lost because the other three of us died.

For anyone who plays the game and thinks they’re smarter than everyone else let me say this clearly. I don’t care how good you think you are stay with the Team!

Toxicity Levels: Medium

Yeah the team was bickering right from the get go and these two guys response was just to push endlessly and basically play them vs the creep waves.

Then when we died and lost they pretended like they intentionally were bad, yeah nice try guys.

 

My Score

Uther Game 7.png

Yeah I’m not proud of this one but honestly with only one tank, and no one around me in team fights I couldn’t heal anyone, and they quickly focused me and killed me early in every fight.

You see how Samuro and Xul had similar scores? Yeah that happened all while they were dying alone by themselves.

 

So there’s the next instalment of my quest for a rank in HOTS. These games were a bit better than the earlier ones but still seems like we tend to lose whenever you team are just dicks to each other.

Team make ups are important but really if you just co-operate you probably have a more than likely chance you’ll win simply because the other team is probably bickering and fighting.

Stay tuned for the conclusion where I actually get placed!

Rank Up: My Quest for Skill in Heroes of The Storm (Part One)

Darcy Selke "Editor in Chief"

I downloaded Heroes Of The Storm about a year ago. Zack Layton mentioned in his recent post that he plays game for narrative content. I used to do that too but after playing Defence Against the Ancients I stopped hating multiplayer games and learned to love the messy chaos that is the online experience.

So I’ve been playing HOTS for about a full year but just unranked quick matches, this is in stark contrast to DOTA where I actually played enough ranked matches to watch my rank drop a full 1000 MMR. For those of you who don’t know what MMR is it’s basically how they rank your skill, like leagues in a sport. I went from Amateur to “can barely play” pretty quickly.

I’ve decided that throughout February I’m actually going to track my quest to improve in skill in HOTS. One of the downsides of the unranked matches is that Team Composition in many ways can determine your success in a game. If there’s an invisible hero and I’m playing say Tracer I can’t really do much because the only way to reveal a stealth hero is to hit them with an area of effect ability, of which Tracer does not have. Ranked Matches put a much bigger focus on how you draft a team.

So anyway without further ado here are my findings for Part One of My Quest for Rank in Heroes of the Storm.

Game One: Hero Abandoned (Loss)

My very first Ranked Match we had someone leave within 45 seconds. This basically set us up for a 12 minute long shit show.

It’s not just that you’re “down” a person, it’s that the AI that controls the character is quite possibly the dumbest thing alive. It runs into lanes by itself, and if you click to make it follow your character it basically sits there and watches as you get murdered by 4 people, never casting an ability, never offering any help.

Toxicity Levels: Low

Game One was sort of a mulligan because someone left.

There was one guy on the team who seemed mad I didn’t come and help them more but again, with one person down I can’t really afford to be flying all around the map. I can’t stress how much being down a person screws with your ability to make plays.

Really though he wasn’t mean spirited he just seemed mad at the situation and was mad I wasn’t doing more to help.

My Score

Falstaad Game 1.png

So in my first game I did alright, something like 2-0. The only reason that was acceptable was because we were down a person. In general scores don’t matter as much because every hero has a different task but for DPS/Assassins Kills and Damage Dealt are definitely things you can judge yourself on.

You can see I was also the only member on my team who got any kills so I felt pretty good.

 

Game Two: My First Win (Win)

I played Muradin the tank and found it worked perfectly. Character with stun affects are much more useful in skilled games because they all you to help your team mates get out of jams.

We had good communication and we just sort of played the game based around objectives. The other team had an Abathur meaning we had to deal with a lot of pushing but for the most part we managed to win the big team fights and free up space.

Toxicity Levels: None

Seems to go hand in hand with how the game is going but since we weren’t getting crushed there wasn’t really anyone talking bad to each other. This would be the kind of game Blizzard would want to advertise, (based on this only, not on any skill).

My Score

Muradin Game 2.png

So I sort of didn’t have a great game. I spent a lot of it keeping people off my team mates but you can see I didn’t lead in any stat.

1-2 Isn’t bad but it’s pretty clear we got carried by our Chromie.

Game Three: How to Throw A Game (Loss)

This one hurt, we were dominating for so long as then our Dehaka just started making dumb plays and then I started making dumb pays following him.

Heroes, like most MOBA’s, punishes greed. It knows that getting another kill is a lot of fun, but retreating and setting yourself up for the next objective is the smarter move.

Toxicity Levels: None

Again no one was raging at anyone, you could see the frustration when we finally caved and lost but no one was blaming anyone really.

My Score

Falstaad Game 3.png

So at one point I was defintely 5-0 but then we just fell apart. I died 3 times in a row.

Dehaka sorta of decided to play balls to wall, and I think it showed in his score. It was so frustrating because like we were doing fine but yeah, you gotta keep your foot on the gas for the whole game.

Tune In Next Time

So 3 games isn’t a bad start but apparently you need 10 in order to actually get a rank so this may end up taking a bit longer than i expected. Let me know your thoughts on MOBA’s and the idea of rank. I always felt that when i played Halo I was one of the better players according to score but MOBA’s are a different animals.

I feel like a lot of the times, team comps and the ability of a team to actually communicate with each other completely throws the skill system out of wack.

 

Till next time,