Category Archives: Gaming

Smash’s Final Character: Smash Ultimate Patch 13.0

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I know, I know, don’t worry about it.

Smash’s presumed final, although not confirmed, patch for Super Smash Brother Ultimate is here, and with it has come a lot of excitement. New character, new changes, a new stage, and lots of talk among the community as usually. With that being said, lets get into it.

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The Final DLC

This is it, the last character, the one that so many people requested in Nintendo’s fan poll almost six years. Sora from Kingdom Hearts is finally in smash. I have a few friends who were hesitant to be happy about Sora, not because they disliked the character for any reason, but rather because the smash community has seen a number of people who are just ok with sending death threats to people, and while the existence does sour my enjoyment a bit, it still pales in comparison to the joy I feel now that he is finally here.

After my finishing the original Persona 5 was followed by the reveal of Joker only a few months later, I did not think anyone else could reach that level of hype. That is, except for one. When I tell you that I could barely contain myself while watching the final reveal during my nine in the morning political philosophy lecture, I am not kidding. Seeing Sora fly out of Kingdom Hearts into that dark and desolate void was truly a dream come true.

As far as how he actually plays, well…Sora is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, going from playing mostly Joker, a character with a significantly faster than average fall speed, great mobility both in the air and on the ground, and an insane punish game to now the floatiest character in the game has been a significant change. On the other, though, Sora himself seems like a better than average fighter with a lot of unique tools and mix-up potential. Not only does he have multiple two hit kill confirms off of his aerials, his neutral is significantly better than expected, with nair serving as a solid out of shield option and his first hit jab and up tilt being excellent anti-air tools.

The hardest part about the character thus far has been his disadvantage. Being so floaty, along with having a relatively slow double-jump makes getting out of disadvantage fairly difficult against competent players. similarly, while Sora arguably has the best edge-guarding of any character in the game, by contrast, his ability to get off ledge is severely limited, and requires really good mix-ups on the part of the person playing him. Despite all of that, however, I have decided to pursue maining him for the moment, as I want to see how much I can develop my skill with arguably now my favorite character in all of smash.

Balance Changes

I’m only going to talk briefly about the balance changes in 13.0, so for anyone who wants to see the whole list of changes and their implications, please watch the video Beefy Smash Doods made, or just look at the original patch notes here.

TL;DR, the main aim of this patch, like many previous ones, was to buff characters who are generally considered to be fairly bad by the competitive community and even casual players. Among those who received major changes are Dr. Mario, Incineroar, Jigglypuff, King K. Rool, Isabelle, Zelda, Lucario, and Little Mac. Judging based on the criteria of most significant changes relative to their character, Jigglypuff and Mac walked away with the most influential buffs. Jigglypuff now has access to a handful of new confirms and high damage combos, and Little Mac became significantly better and what he does best: pressuring opponents on the ground.

While none of these changes are likely the make the characters that much more viable in the competitive scene, except maybe in the case of Jigglypuff, they did seem to accomplish the goal of giving them a higher quality of life and making certain interactions slightly better off for the respective fighters. Overall, outside of my general dislike of what I would consider to be a lot of “Wi-Fi characters,” I do think these buffs were warranted and not particularly egregious.

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The Meta of Smash Ultimate

Based on previous patterns from Smash for Wii U, this is likely to be the last or second to last patch for the game. This means that Ultimate‘s competitive meta will likely solidify in the coming months. Whether or not the addition of such an iconic and fan-loved character will spark an unprecedented wave of new interest in the game has yet to be seen. However, even through a global pandemic in which offline tournaments, the heart of smash community, were shut down completely, the game has retained competitive interest. This has been even more true now that offline locals and majors have begun resurfacing.

The reality, however, is that COVID-19 is far from over, with resurgences of the disease and offspring of new variants helping to maintain its spread. This means that smash could be forced to move online once again at a moments notice. For Smash Ultimate, this means players would be forced to resort to using the game’s notoriously awful online system as their only means of play. Most are aware of this problem, which is why many top players, such as New England’s Light barely played during Quarantine, and others have moved on from the game entirely.

Still, even with a shrink in the community, there has been plenty of development among individual characters. Steve, who many notoriously though was going to be among the worst in the game, is now considered high tier at a minimum among many. This is due to significant developments in the character’s combo and camping game, with many realizing the vast potential Steve has with his ability to build blocks while in the air. Min Min, another terror of online play, seen a similar rise in respectability, with players like ESAM and Pink Fresh performing relatively well at recent offline events.

Sora’s meta is still being explored, but early signs show a lot of promise. As mentioned previously, he has a few easy to perform kill confirms, great edge-guarding capability, and even a recently discovered loop with both his fair and nair, which allows him to combo opponents for massive amounts of damage. Currently, many are of the opinion that the character only rises to mid-tier status, but opinions among top players who have experimented with Sora are quickly changing. This includes PGR rank one player MKLeo, who believes the character to be incredibly strong.

Conclusion

Overall, this has been an incredibly successful patch, both personally and competitively. While I honestly have no idea what the future of smash is at this point, with Masahiro Sakurai saying that he will be stepping down from working on the game, I am excited to see any future content, as well as continue to watch and participate in the growth of the competitive scene.


I hope you all enjoyed this analysis of Smash’s recent patch. I try to only talk about competitive gaming occasionally, since these posts tend to perform relatively poorly. However, for those that are interested in this kind of content, please let me know, since I do enjoy writing it. Otherwise, thanks for reading.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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United In Stormwind Set Discussion

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Well, its been long enough, I think.

I was originally going to post this after a couple of weeks, but ended up getting distracted and ultimately just fell behind in what I wanted to write about. Although, given how “United in Stormwind” panned out as a set, including its overall affect on the pace of the game, I am kind of glad that I waited, because oh boy is there a lot to talk about. With that being said, let us jump right in.

Combo Decks

I think it is fair to say that a pretty big chunk of the community, even before this set, were not the biggest fans of combo, myself included. With how bad hearthstone’s balance can get, combo decks of the past often felt completely degenerate and unfun to play against because they had basically every tool to succeed. The last significant combo archetype to rear its head before this most recent set was “OTK Demon Hunter,” a deck that, while admittedly fairly difficult to pilot well, as I demonstrated in my video hear, became one of the best decks of the format.

However, “United in Stormwind” turned the dial up to eleven, so to speak, as it introduced multiple new combo archetypes, including the now nerfed “D6 Quest Warlock,” “Quest Mage,” various versions of “Garrote Rogue,” and two different variants of “Quest Demon Hunter.” These decks not only have greater efficiency that the previous versions of “OTK Demon Hunter,” but also have the tools required to compete for and control the board. The pace of the meta shifted so rapidly that control decks, which were highly represented in tournament, have become little more than a tech against specific archetypes. The prevalence of these spell heavy combo decks has also forced other decks to make room for cards like “Cult Neophyte,” and to a lesser extent “Robes of Protection,” as a way of slowing them down by a couple turns.

Still, I don’t want to give off the impression that I hate combo decks universally. On the contrary, a meta which is fully based around control archetypes can get stale to play and is certainly not as interesting to watch. While the pace of the game is significantly faster, it also means that early game decisions matter a lot more, and players will get rewarded for matchup familiarity and playing around key turns from there opponent. Suffice it to say, there are good and bad things about the new suite of combo.

Were the Nerfs Enough?

This might end up being non-point, because, as of writing this post there has been a new patch announced with various changes, but it does still seem like some changes need to be made.

While the absolute monsters that were “D6” and “Quest Mage” with two mana Enchanter’s Flow are now things of the past, the pace shift in the meta is worth reiterating. An average game involving one or more combo decks usually lasts until around turn seven or eight, depending how fast it sets up. “Garrote Rogue” has been known to set up on average around that time, and the current iterations of “Handlock” which also plays the quest can have a board of threats down as early as turn six. Going from relatively more tempo focused meta which usually went 10 turns plus to the current meta has certainly caused a bit of whiplash.

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How much more heavily the game should be changed is up for the debate. Clearly the dev teams seems to agree that there is a problem, as according to the tweet making a total of 14 changes. It feels pretty obvious to anyone whose been playing the game at higher ranks that Warlock, in particular, is indeed a problem. “Garrote Rogue” as well has emerged as a strong contender, but considering the relative difficulty of the deck, including the fact that even pro players mess up the combo pretty often, it feels unlikely to be affected.

One card that many have despised since its release is Mindrender Illucia. This is because the cards swaps you and your opponents decks and hands. Most recently, the card has been used in “Aggro Shadow Priest” as a way of protecting your tempo swing from potential removal. Even though the card was nerfed early on from two mana, many have a problem with the design itself, saying it should be banned or removed from the game. I will not pretend like I have a particularly strong opinion on it, but I will say that the few times I have been Illucia’ed have made me feel pretty helpless.

The Design

While the competitive gamer in me can’t help but care about the current meta, the card game nerd in me also has to admit that the concept for the set was absolutely brilliant. My knowledge of World of Warcraft is fairly limited, considering I have only ever watched a few videos about the game, but there is a lot to appreciate about this set in terms of its design.

First, the return of a few mechanics. Obviously quest is the one most people got excited about initially, no surprise there. However, seeing new cards for the handbuff archetypes of Hunter and Paladin was fairly refreshing. In regards to hunter specifically, seeing the Elwin Boar along with the reference to south park in Sword of a Thousand Truths was pretty funny, if nothing else. While the quest does make it feel overbearing at times, mage getting some new tools for the spell mage deck is a fun inclusion.

On top of that, It feels like people rarely take the time to appreciate the card art in particular sets. It takes a lot of work to have as thematically cohesive an art design across 100 plus cards for one booster set, nevermind as often as the artists seem to do. “United in Stormwind” as a set focused on the city of Stormwind and the various characters associated with it. There is are a lot of royal designs, including a lot of knights and mages. However, the card art also makes it feel cohesive while giving the cards of each class a unique flair.

Conclusion

While I cannot say that “United in Stormwind” is my favorite set competitively, and in a lot of ways has made me significantly less interested in playing constructed, I would be remiss to not highlight the amazing work the art and design team did in creating it.


Do you play “Hearthstone” at all? How do you feel about “United in Stormwind?” Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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First Impressions: Griftlands

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I mentioned in my first impressions of “Arcanium: Rise of Akhan” that Slay the Spire is a game that I have spent a lot of time with, more than 100 hours. The only other game I have put that much time into outside of “Smash” and “Hearthstone,” the one’s I play competitively, is “Final Fantasy 13.” Actually, wait, that is a lie. I forgot how long it took me to beat the original “Persona 5.” I might just be really bad at video games…

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that often times when I get obsessed with a game I end up putting an ungodly amount of time into it. It is not always a great personality trait to have, but ya know, its there. I say all of this because “Griftlands” is a lot of fun, and while I could also see myself putting a lot of time into “Arcanium” because the card game roguelike subgenre is just one that I enjoy a lot, there are some things that set it apart.

For starters, “Arcanium” being the visual mess that it is makes it a lot harder to concentrate on the particular tasks at hand. “Griftlands” circumvents this problem in a couple of ways. First, it just straight up has less happening on screen while arguable being more mechanically involved, even in just the normal story mode. This helps focus the player on important stats and deck mechanics. Second, the size of the display at the top feels just big enough to make sure the player knows they are there while also not being distracting. Lastly, the game also hides its big chunks of text and story within character dialogue by allowing one to hover over it and get a brief explanation.

Speaking of, something else that Griftlands also does that its peers within the genre do not is incorporate a significant story element. Each of the characters, Sal, Rook and Smith, each have a dedicated story mode which tell about their place in this bounty hunter filled world, and utilize mechanics related to that story. A good example of this is Rook’s lucky coin. Not only is the coin instantly recognizable, but also plays into how the character functions. Using a mechanic called gamble, Rook flips a coin and gains additional effects based on the flip. There are even certain cards whose effects revolve around rigging a certain outcome of the coin toss.

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One concern that was brought to my attention by others who have played the game a bit more is replay value. Generally, the core appeal of roguelikes is their diversity of experience, and thus being able to play the game in many different ways, making the replay value significantly higher. However, because the game is a bit more story focused, it may lack that same value due to having to slog through the story bits. While I can understand where that concern comes from, my minimal experience with the game thus far leads me away from making strong conclusions about this aspect. It might be worth noting that the game does have a total of three modes for each character: the initial story mode and two others

The art in the game is also incredibly nice to look at. As far as the characters go, it feels like the designers went the extra mile to make sure that even minor characters of an alien race were distinct enough to be recognizable outside of specific contexts. On top of that, the main characters also seem to have a well developed backstory and are each interesting enough to carry a few 3-4 hour runs at least.

So, yeah. There is a lot more that I probably could say about “Griftlands,” even with just seven to eight hours played, but overall it is just a solid game. Anyone who is remotely interested in this type of gameplay should definitely peep it, especially considering its only about 20 dollars after tax on steam right now.


How do you all feel about “Griftlands?” Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

First Impressions: Arcanium

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I have been on a huge card game kick recently. I have been laser focused in on competitive “Hearthstone” recently, and when I am not playing that, I am theory crafting decks in “Yu-Gi-Oh.” I also spent a lot of time on “Slay the Spire” last year, a rogue like card which focused on deck building and making your hero stronger through upgrades and items. Fast Forward a couple weeks and I see Jon of Jon Spencer’s Reviews playing a new but oddly similar game, “Arcanium.”

Given where my fixations have been for the last couple weeks, it felt like a no brainer to try it out. So, I went on steam, bought it for around 17 dollars, and gave it a spin last night on my stream. So, was it worth? Does it live up to some of its predecessors?

Well, its hard to say anything definitive after just a few hours of gameplay, but the game does have some very obvious strengths and weaknesses. First, “Arcanium,” in a lot of ways, does feel a bit more challenging than other roguelikes. The managing of three different heroes and decks both in combat and out makes it a significantly more involved experience. There were times when I would have to pause the music I had on just so I could concentrate on what I was doing.

This also brings up another related point, which is that with triple the characters comes triple the mechanics. In a game like “Slay the Spire,” managing your damage output and intake is limited to one body. However, in a game like “Arcanium,” understanding who your primary damage dealer, tank, and healer is becomes an essential part of playing the game well.

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The deckbuilding in general in this game is a lot of fun. Given that each character has a max of 12 card slots, it becomes a lot easier to focus in on making characters do particular things. This again helps to better layout a character’s role and identity within the run.

However, there are still a couple of things wrong with the game. While I was able to figure out a lot on my own because of my history with the genre, it does feel weird that the game has no tutorial. Given how niche the genre already is, it feels like one of those things that is kind of weird to forget. I suppose one could argue that the lack of a tutorial gives the game a bit more of a challenge straight up, but still feels like a poor decision.

Even if the game did have a tutorial, though, I honestly am not sure how much it would help. This is because a lot of things in the game feel unnecessarily hard to understand. Part of this has to do with the smaller text the game uses, which is likely their given how much is actually happening on screen. This disorganization felt a like a turn off while first playing through the game, though it does become a minor inconvenience after a while.

Overall, while their are some minor flaws which prevent the game from being a masterpiece, I can definitely see myself spending quite a few hours in the game. Given its relatively low price point, I would say any fan of both card games and roguelikes would definitely be happy to have this in their collection.


Have you folks played “Arcanium?” How did you feel about it? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Reflecting on Streaming, My Experience so Far

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Hey friends, couple of housekeeping things before I get into the meet of this post. First, #TheJCS is still going on this month, so if you have not submitted please do so! If you are not familiar with #TheJCS, you can read my announcement post for this month which will explain everything in detail. Second, apologies for the late posts this week, getting back on a schedule has been harder on me mentally than I initially thought. With that being said, I wanted to take a bit of a break and talk about something I have been enjoying a lot recently, which is streaming.

I think its fair to say that a significant portion of the people who spent any significant time as a kid playing video games probably dreamed about playing them for a living. As it turns out, that has now become a reality for many people on the internet. Streaming has not only become popular, but the arrival of the pandemic last year made it a much more immediately available form of entertainment, since many then had the time to watch streams.

I myself had never really thought much about streaming before I got my PC. After all, I do not really like having eyes on me while I do things, and, at least initially, I was not super keen on letting other people watch me play games. At least, not in a live environment.

However, after trying it out for the last few months or so, I have come to a couple observations. First, as it turns out, I actually don’t mind people watching me that much. As of the writing of this post, my highest consecutive viewer count is six, and most of my recent streams have had about two to three people watching. Most of the time it just feels like hanging out with friends while we each do our own thing.

Second, While having better setups can definitely improve the quality of a stream, having a dedicated streaming setup is not actually necessary. When I initially asked my friend to help me build a PC, it was supposed to be a budget build. This was because, at the time, I had not interest in streaming and mainly just wanted a more efficient way to get work done. But, as it turns out, you can still have fairly good quality without crazy good specs on your computer.

Third, I have definitely come away from my streaming experiences with a new perspective on it. I used to be of the somewhat ignorant mindset that streaming is fairly easy from the perspective of being an entertainer. While I do think it can be easier in certain respects, communicating with an active chat while also doing other things is significantly more difficult than I initially thought.

Overall, I have had a great experience with streaming so far. While it may be more difficult than I initially thought, I definitely want to continue. If you want to join me on my Stream journey, feel free to drop a follow on my Twitch. As of right now I have been focusing on Smash Ultimate and Hearthstone, but I do plan on playing some anime related games in the near future. If you have any thoughts on what games I should play, feel free to drop a comment down below.


If you did read this far, thank you for indulging me. Regularly scheduled content should resume on Sunday.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Hearthstone “Forged in the Barrens” Set Thoughts and Predictions

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Hearthstone’s year of the Gryphon is already moving pretty fast, and its first expansion is set to release at the end of this month. There were many changes in the last year for Hearthstone, with the introduction of a new class and a few new game modes as well, with an additional format in “Classic” scheduled to arrive, along with the newest set “Forged in the Barrens.”

There also just happened to be an entire core set rework that I never really touched on, but since my schedule is busier than ever and my focus is at an all time low I never really got to talk about it, so I’ll give my quick thoughts now. In summary, I think the core set rework and standard change is a really good idea. There were definitely a lot of older cards that just were not good and probably are not getting played ever again. Additionally, the idea of a rotating core set makes prospects of playing standard over an extended period of time much more interesting. This is because, along with new expansions, the base level cards that everyone has access to will change, making the game feel much more fresh over time.

With that being said, here are my thoughts on “Forged in the Barrens.”

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Spell Schools/Tags

This is also more of a game wide change as opposed to a set specific one, but it does affect the upcoming sets as well, so it is still worth talking about. Tribes in most cards games, be it “Hearthstone,” “Yugioh,” “Magic,” etc are used both to increase the power of specific archetypes and also to control which archetypes have access to specific effects. The ladder two in particular are fairly comfortable with the idea of spell tags and using them to control the power of a card.

“Hearthstone” is a game that has gone through a lot of changes even its relatively short lifespan, changes which have created a lot of decks that players would consider gimmicky or unfun to play against, such as “Malygos” combo decks. Having certain effects like spell damage only interact with certain kinds of spells significantly lowers the ability for singular cards to create entire archetypes in the future. In this way, the inclusion of spell tribes not only feels unnoteworthy, but in a lot of ways necessary for the health of the game.

Frenzy

There have been a lot of new keywords added to “Hearthstone,” particularly in the last few years of the game, but not all keywords are created equal. Some, like “Discover” have added a lot more randomness and overall focus on value generation to the game than in its earlier days. Others, like “Overkill” and “Corrupt” have had a lot less of an impact on the meta, outside of just adding some ok cards to the standard pool.

While it is still really early to make a definitive judgement on anything thus far, “Frenzy” feels like it will end up somewhere in the middle. For those unaware, Frenzy effects activate the first time a minion would survive damage, which makes it almost like an enrage effect of old. A fair amount of the minions with the keyword have relatively high health totals to help trigger these effects, but that might not be enough.

Even with the core set rotation, and with the addition of a lot the new cards in “Forged in the Barrens,” most classes still have access to a fair bit of high damage and hard removal. However, there will still be plenty of times when no such removal exists or it just is not drawn, meaning “Frenzy” might just have a better chance. Also, the inclusion of the “Rush” keyword on many of the newer cards means it might be a be a bit more viable than other proactive keywords such as “Overkill.” Still, only time and statistics will be able to speak to the new mechanic’s effectiveness.

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Diamond Cards?

Alternate arts and cosmetic changes have always been a topic of discussion in the “Hearthstone” community, and in the last year or so Blizzard has delivered a lot more in this realm. The updated rewards system in the form of the battle pass brought with it a whole host of rewards, including new hero portraits and a new version of the coin. The year of the Gryphon is expanding on this idea, and introducing a limited number of diamond cards that will be accessible through the paid version of the battle pass.

The battle pass was another controversy that I did not cover, partly because of time but mostly because other people did it a lot better than I could. It definitely sucked at first, put the continued adjustments to experience requirements and improvements on received experience from play has made it feel significantly more rewarding than its advent iteration. Where was I? Oh yeah, diamond cards.

Since it is purely a cosmetic addition and only limited to a certain number of cards, I do not particularly mind its inclusion. Die hard fans of the game who are looking to have a 100 percent complete collection are probably going to be a bit mad that they have to spend even more money, but, at the end, of the day it is a really cool looking addition that does not take anything away from gameplay for money.

No More Infinite Value!

The mechanical theme of “Barrens” contrasts significantly with the previous year. Much of the card design in the Year of the Dragon focuses on getting value off of value in continuous chains. This created a lot of polarized opinions, with a certain part of the player base being ok with it and many saying it creates an unhealthy degree of randomness in a game that is already largely defined by it.

However, the game’s newest set seems to be returning to designs of old, which focus complimenting specific game plans rather than being on card engines. Personally, I think this will leave the game in a much healthier state than it was before. If the priest mirror match can teach us anything, its that a meta defined by balancing infinite value with consistent tempo is one that is destined to become boring after a while.


Are you looking forward to “Forged in the Barrens?” What do you think of the recent changes? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Smash Ultimate, Patch 11.0, and Pyra/Mythra

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

A lot has happened since I last talked anything smash related on the blog, since my inability to plan ahead has been perpetually plaguing me for some time now, I figured it would be worth talking about. So without mincing words to much, let us get started.

Pyra and Mythra Have Arrived!

For those who had not heard yet, the newest fighters in Smash Ultimate are Mythra and Pyra of “Xenoblade Chronicles 2.” While the two swordswomen are separate characters, they function much like the Shiek/Zelda of old, with players being able to shift freely between them using their down special.

The two have a very distinct contrast, with Mythra boasting most of the speed and combo potential, while Pyra hold the raw kill power which can consistently K.O. opponents below 100%, with moves like her side smash, up special, and neutral special. Most pro players thus far have said that Mythra feels like the stronger character overall, although players like T1’s MKLeo have warned people not to sleep on Pyra either. Regardless of which one is actually better, most agree that smash’s newest addition is likely to end up at the top of most tier lists.

Personally, I would have to agree. After doing labing so very basic combos and measuring the kill power of these two, their combination as one character gives players the freedom to adapt to a number of situations, and feel strong in almost every scenario. Their one flaw in their somewhat mediocre recovery, but even that feels incredibly hard to punish with sufficient practice. Its hard to say if they will end up as the best, but, at least for now, they definitely have their spot in that conversation. Though, it will be much easier to draw a more accurate picture once results start coming in.

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11.0 Balance Changes: We Got Nerfs?!

It feels as though Nintendo’s philosophy for most of the balance changes thus far has been to buff weaker characters as opposed to nerfing higher performing ones. Still, with the release of the 11.0 patch they did apply some significant nerfs to some of the characters considered top tier, most notably Joker, Palutena, and Wario.

As for Joker, the characters side special now has more lag, along with the inactive version of his Arsene counter. Palutena received a few nerfs as well, with her forward aerial now having more landing lag, making it slightly less safe on shield, as well as her dash attack receiving more end lag. In addition, her standing grab range now has less range. Wario was arguably hit the hardest, as his most powerful, down special, now comes out slower in its third and final versions. As well, his up-tilt attack now has less active frames, making it harder to hit opponents with. If you would like to visual representations of all the changes, check out the video by Beefy Smash Dudes on the latest patch.

All of these felt like pretty reasonably changes, as these characters, even with the nerfs, as still going to be extremely good. The changes, for the most part, just help to reel in people’s ability to spam moves without getting punished. Wario, though, feels like he might just drop out of top tier entirely. While I am not super familiar with how badly this affects his ability to combo, Waft often felt like a free kill that your opponent could just cash in on after a certain amount of time had passed. To a certain extent this also rewards a more passive playstyle, as you could just sit back and charge up waft without much commitment to any specific play. Now it seems as if those combos are going to be a bit more situational, and might require Wario players to fish for them a bit harder with things like falling up air and falling neutral air.

Also, Min Min got nerfed thank god!

One character that has remained almost untouched since the games release, however, is Pikachu. This is surprising considering how many top players have voiced there opinion on the character’s status as the best in the game, with many of those same players calling for changes to the character. The change most would like to see implemented is what is referred to as “pancaking,” or the flattening of the characters model during certain moves, to the point where he becomes nearly impossible to hit. This creates many frustrating situations where an option that would normally be punishable for whiffing becomes functionally unpunishable, one example being Pikachu’s back aerial, which makes him almost entirely flat when landed.

These nerfs to to other top characters, combined with Pikachu’s unchanged kit not only put him more in the conversation of best, but also creates frustration within the community, as it makes it feel to many as if the balance team is not really listening.

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#UnbanNairo

Some not at all familiar with the smash scene might have seen this trending on Twitter, as the top player Nairo was accused by Captain Zack during the summer of last year of being pressured into oral sex when he was 15 and Nairo was 20. However, Nairo released a statement a few months later saying that he was dealing with the situation in court and compiling evidence to prove his innocence after originally apologizing for the situation.

After Nairo released a document with such evidence, along with corroboration from many top players who were at the event which these events took place, many began calling for his re-entry into the community, along with permanently banning Captain Zack. This culminated into the movement #unbanNairo, which was started with the hopes of allowing him back into the community and getting his currently banned Twitch channel unbanned.

Given all of what we now know in hindsight, I will say a couple of things. First, Nairo definitely did not do himself any favors by apologizing immediately. While he never actually admitted guilt, the apology definitely came off that way. It would have been much better for himself if he had waited to collect his thoughts and then spoken about it afterward. Still, regardless of what he did or did not admit to, there is absolutely no reason to have him stay banned considering what has been brought to light.

Now, do not mistake this for me saying that sexual relations with children are ok. However, Captain Zack was not the one being violated here, and especially considering what is also known about his relationship with Ally, and how he purposefully manipulated him during tournaments, the evidence of Nairo’s having been approached by Captain Zack is all but apparent. So, yeah, #unbainNairo


There is a lot in here worth discussing, so please let me know any of your thoughts down in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Hearthstone, Meta Diversity, and Why It’s Important

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Feels like its been a while since I have talked about one of my favorite games of all time, probably because it has been. Not without good reason, obviously, as it has been an insane and frankly, still very depressing year. Still its worth remembering everything that happened.

The game got a whole new class in the form of Demon Hunter that ended up terrorizing the meta for quite a while. After all, when you give a class whose identity is built around attacking the opponent in large bursts the ability to also clear boards and also draw a bunch of cards, that’s usually a recipe for being broken.

On top of that, there was a return to old mechanics in the form of Dormant minions from “Ashes of Outland,” and the introduction of Dual class cards in “Scholomance Academy.” In the list of new mechanics we also got a contender for one of the worst in the games history: Corrupt, which requires you to play a card of a higher cost first in order to get the corrupted effect.

More recently though, the meta seems to have settled down, and, outside of the recent rein of Evolve Shaman and the currently dominating Ramp Paladin, it feels pretty open. It is not often that I get to say something like that considering the game’s extremely long history of broken mechanics, but with a lot of cards in “Madness at the Darkmoon Faire” feeling a bit underwhelming, and the “Darkmoon Races” mini set only brining a few more relevant cards to the table, there are plenty of decks siting in tier two that can succeed.

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Which is a good thing, right? Well, yes. Oftentimes I see people complaining about stale metas, and while yes fighting the same decks over and over again certainly is not the most fun, it does come with some benefits. When there are only a few decks that are considered top tier, as the case currently in the wild meta, it makes the predicted matchup spread significantly smaller. This, in turn, means that there is smaller pool of decks against which one needs to reasonably come up with counter-play. Thus, less competitive decks ostensibly makes “figuring out the meta,” and by extension winning, much easier.

However, people are people, and as much as competitors want to be good at something, they also want it to be fun. Cards games like Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering implement rotating formats for that reason, so that if a particular strategy becomes dominant, or the game just becomes to stagnant, there is a built in way of changing the game at some point.

Now, as previously mentioned, there are times when the game needs to change much more rapidly than that, as certain strategies becomes so dominant as to feel nearly unbeatable. This is why having a card game be online is convenient because it allows the developers to make adjustments to cards that become too powerful.

What was this post about? I don’t remember. While the last year of Hearthstone, much like the year in general, was tumultuous, there is reason to believe that it will get better.


How do you folks feels about Hearthstone these days? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Revisiting Final Fantasy 13

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I mentioned it in a blog post a while back, but I recently started streaming for fun. Its been a great experience so far, and since I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who also stream I have been getting a lot of positive support. So far its been a lot of “Hearthstone” and “Slay the Spire,” which has been great because card games are, like, one of my favorite genres. However, since I have the opportunity anyway, I wanted to carve out some time to re-visit one of my favorite games of all time: FF13

As of the release of this post, I am only about 2 hours in or so, which means I have not gotten past the intro section. But honestly, everything about the game is still almost as good as I remember.

For starters, apart from the spotty details on the hands and certain facial features, the animation and character designs in the game are f**king amazing. Granted, most JRPGs and anime adjacent media tends to make their main characters stand out. However, it feels like the designs actually match the world, and utilize some really fun color palettes as well. Lighting’s Military’s uniform in particular, while not actually looking the most militaristic, is still unique enough to be noteworthy.

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Speaking of characters, I absolutely adore most of the ones in this game. Even as far as “Final Fantasy” games go, there are some really cool storylines that are tied together amazingly with the use of foreshadowing and flashbacks, which is saying something consider how lazy writers can often get using these techniques. The best is probably the one between Vanille and Kazh, but I won’t say too much more so that I don’t spoil anything. The only character that comes across as kind of lame is Hope, as it feels like he does not do a whole lot for the majority of the game, since he mostly spends his time just following everyone else around.

It is hard to talk about the plot of the game without giving too much away, but a lot of the game is focused on Lightning and the gang taking down the Fal’cie, and a being that corrupts human beings, turning them into “dangerous” L’cie. At first it can feel like a pretty generic action/adventure style game, but it very quickly become a story about questioning government narratives, and fighting back against a fascist state, which I can definitely appreciate a lot more now.

Given that is has been a long time since I have made it all the way through, its hard to give the game a fair and accurate review. This means that, in all likelihood, I will be revisiting it after I finish my playthrough to give a more detailed and honest evaluation.

If you would like to join me on my continuing journey through the game, I will be live every Thursday, starting somewhere around 8-10 EST on my Twitch going for a few hours at a time. If you just want to come say hi, though, that is totally fine as well.


Did you guys ever play FF13? How did you feel about it? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

“Smash Ultimate” 9.0 Recap

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Ok, but like, what do I even write here? The mad-lads actually did it…Steve from Minecraft is in Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

It has been less than a week since Steve’s release as part of the Ultimate Fighters Pack 2 expansion for “Smash Ultimate” and already their has been a lot worth talking about, from the release of Steve to balance changes and the general mood of the community as a whole. Today, I want to catch up you folks on all of it, in case you have been out of the loop, and share my general thoughts on “Smash Ultimate” as of version 9.0. With that being said, lets get started.

Steve From Minecraft

From the moment it was confirmed that their would be DLC for “Smash Ultimate,” people were indeed excited for the games future. This excitement came to a tipping point when at the game awards last year it was announced that Joker from “Persona 5” would be the first ever DLC fighter for the game. From their, people’s imagination began to run wild with possibilities, and indeed, the results have been pretty crazy, with representatives from “Dragon Quest,” “Banjo and Kazooie,” “Fatal Fury,” and “ARMS” also being added as well. The only real “normal” rep to appear in the game thus far has been Byleth from “Fire Emblem: Three Houses.”

Now, the first exclusively Microsoft rep has entered in the arena in the form of Steve from “Minecraft,” and he is definitely unique in his kit. Most of his strength as a fighter, much like many of the DLC that has been released previously, relies on his meter, which fuels his ability to both build blocks as well as upgrade his weapons. On top of that, his side special is a mine-cart that functions both as a projectile and a command grab, his up special utilizes a glide mechanic similar to Pit in “Smash Bros Brawl,” and all of his smash attacks are both fast and strong, making him an all around strong fighter

There has a been a lot of debate about where Steve will actually fall on most people’s tier list, but considering the character has only been out for a few days, it is hard to tell with any degree of accuracy where he will end up, only that he will be extremely polarizing.

Balance Changes for 9.0

Unlike the previous patch which introduced a significant number of buffs for certain characters, 9.0 was relatively conservative in its changes. The full patch notes can be found here, but for the sake of this post here are the characters that recieved a significant number of changes/buffs

  • Bowser Jr.
  • Ness
  • Ice Climber
  • Simon/Richter
  • Sonic
  • Lucario

While it is hard to say the changes these characters received will make them significantly better, there was a little bit of frustration from the community towards these changes, especially for characters like Sonic and Ness. In the age of Corona-Virus, where the majority of competitive events for the game are being held online, it is undoubtedly frustrating to see two characters who notoriously benefit from delayed connections to receive any kind of buffs.

Still, the other characters that were affected by this patch, mainly Lucario and Simon/Richter, definitely needed some sort of change in order to see any kind of success on a competitive level.

Is Smash Ultimate Dying?

Answering the question “is x game dying” is usually one that is both complicated but also not really worth entertaining most of the time because of it being brought up in bad faith. That being said, with the pretty much universal disappearance of in person gaming events, the FGC is undoubtedly one of the hardest hit, as in person events are pretty much the heart and soul of the community.

While online events can certainly be entertaining, they are, in most cases, vastly inferior to their offline counterparts for a variety of reasons. The first is that the lag/input delay caused by using online systems. This inherent delay makes it so that players are not able to react to their full potential making punishes and strings that much harder to achieve.

The second is a bit more abstract, that being the sense of community that is lost from playing online. I can say from my own personal experience that the ability to hang out and talk with other players from the community, as well as learn things and make friends with those who compete is one of the best experiences of my life, and losing that experience has definitely taken its toll on me.

As for whether or not smash specifically is “dying” any faster than other communities, I have not seen the evidence to support that. While views for large events were certainly on the decline even before COVID-19, this is natural for a game that already been out for over a year. Ebbs and flows for general interest will always happen. The loss of Major communities figures such as Nairo and Zero, as well as a number of other top commentators, certainly impacted this as well, but again, this does not necessarily mean the community is dying any faster, only that its growth has been hampered.

Assuming the pandemic is dealt with anytime in the near future, which admittedly could not be the case given the response of the current administration, it is unlikely the community will be completely dead.

Conclusion

The Smash community is definitely suffering right now, but while the events surrounding top figures in the community certainly add to that hurt, it is unfair to say the community is dying anymore so than other communities. Still, with more DLC and updates still coming, and with the potential for offline events to come back with the next year or so, there is a lot to look forward to.


How do you all feel about “Smash Ultimate” lately? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!