Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dream Halls Deck

Years ago, when Dream Halls was banned and 40 card decks were legal, I had blue and red deck.  After I got Dream Halls out, I'd discard cards with madness to cast Searing Wind and Time Stretch.  It was an ok deck, though it had no defenses.  The most fun was when I cast two or three Time Stretches in a row.

Recently, I remade the blue and red deck up to sixty cards.  I used Enter the Infinite instead of Time Stretch.  If I got Enter the Infinite in my hand, I won, but it wasn't fun.  If I didn't cast Enter the Infinite, the deck did very little.

After taking another look at things that cost eight mana or more, I've decided to go with black and blue.  This allowed for me to use Army of the Damned, which I will probably never use in anything else.  I have some beefy creatures and sexy card drawing, and black of course has the generic tutors.  An unintended result of picking cards I liked was that I will utilize cards that are only great if you cast them from your hand (the Myojin, Hypnox, Dread Cacodemon).

I don't quite have all the cards, but I will soon.  I think this will be a fun deck.  If it's too abusive, I'll take out the Cacodemons for more Hypnoxes, or something.  Lots of room to work with.

Here's the proposed decklist:

Dream Halls
60-Card Format
Black, Blue

4 Dream Halls

4 Rhystic Study
4 Baleful Strix
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
2 tutors

4 Dread Cacodemon
3 Army of the Damned
2 Rise of the Dark Realms
1 Hypnox
1 Myojin of Night's Reach
1 Myojin of Seeing Winds

2 Jhessian Zombies
4 Blood Pet
4 Basal Thrull

Monday, June 2, 2014

Risen Review

Game: Risen
Year (s): 2009
Company: dev. Piranha-Bytes
pub. Deep Silver
Engine: Unnamed proprietary engine using Emotion FX, SpeedTree foilage, and PhysX
Type: Hack and Slash RPG, open world
Viewpoint: Third-Person
Metacritic Score: 77
My Score: This one's a dud.

Price (as of June 2, 2014)

Regular list price on Steam: $9.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping): $14.42

Obligatory Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IFsIXGi9i4&feature=kp

Set in a pirate-era magical world, the gods have been cast out... but something else has RISEN! A terrible storm shipwrecks you on an island where ancient temples full of monsters have erupted from the ground. A bandit group and an order of mage warriors vie for control and access to the magic artifacts found in the temples.


The engine is graphically comparable to what you might have seen in Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, although with less glitches. Some of the key bindings are stupid (“L” for quests, for example) and there is no quicksave. It's not ideal.

Save System

Manual Save? Yes
Quick Save? No
Area Load Save? Sometimes, as an Auto Save
Checkpoint Save? Sometimes, as an Auto Save

Why I Got Risen
One reason why I was interested in Risen is because it had a sequel. If I enjoyed one, I could play another.

My other reasons for trying the game were a misunderstanding of the creators. I saw the trailer, which mentioned Deep Silver. I thought, “Cool, they did Dead Island.” They PUBLISHED Dead Island. TechLand was the developer.
Also listed was Piranha-Bytes, which I vaguely recalled as on of the many developers ultimately credited in Duke Nukem Forever. Piranha Games, a small Canadian developer, worked on DNF. Piranha-Bytes is an small, unrelated German developer.
While I thought I knew what I was getting into, I was wrong.

Combat and Gameplay
I mastered attacking and blocking. Unfortunately, Risen has a complicated system that also uses counterattacks, lateral attacks, charged attacks, and I think dodging too. Failing to figure out this clumsy mess of combat resulted in resorting to cheats very quickly.

But, a lot of the time, quests don't involve combat. You have to talk to people. A lot of people. It becomes tedious.

Early on, I couldn't find a secret entrance to progress the (possibly) main story. So, I ventured out, quickly finding an end-level dungeon near the beginning of the game. The monsters could kill me in one hit, so I had them chase me back to an encampment right outside. Many friendly units were killed, but I was able to loot the dead monster afterward.

I explored nearly all of the island, looting from enemies and harvesting plants. Lots of plants restored mana, but I had no magic powers. I sold these plants.

Fast forward twelve hours. I finally find the secret entrance I had looked for in the beginning. I'm sent on a quest to find two guys that were killed by that monster I lured away earlier. I was also to find a bunch of plants, which I had already found but sold for money.

That's when I'd had enough.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

Risen was followed by Risen 2, which had DLC.

Final Thoughts

I might have been able to progress further in Risen, but after 16 hours I was convinced it wasn't a good RPG. If it had come out in 2004, sure. But 2009? That's two years after Fallout 3. The combat and key bindings were awful, the gab fest was excessive, and some of their choices (like putting that end-game dungeon right near the start) made no sense.

I'd recommend avoiding this one. Oblivion or Skyrim, while buggy, are more fun with pretty similar gameplay. Mass Effect, Darksiders, or even Dust: An Elysian Tale would be more worth your time and money.