You Don’t Like 2 Hour Swarm Host Games? Here’s One Solution

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Swarm hosts are not a bad unit. Let me clarify, though, before everyone stops reading this post: swarm hosts are a horrible unit for the current state of Starcraft 2.

I think most people would agree with that statement. Swarm hosts replaced broodlords as being the nightmare unit that Terrans and Protosses (and sometimes Zergs) dread. When swarm hosts first came out, they seemed interesting and everyone thought they could possibly change the meta of Starcraft 2; they certainly did, although currently not in a way anyone (except maybe Stephano?) is happy with.

What are the current problems with swarm hosts? Some would focus on the damage they do with free units, but I instead want to focus on the problem of mobility. Swarm hosts reduce the mobility of the game, consolidating the action to choke points via slow siege warfare. The hay day of TvT siege warfare looks spectacularly more interesting in comparison (even though many of us bemoaned the state of GOMTvT at that time). With static defense and endless swarms of locusts, games drag to a grind.

The slow siege is particularly painful in ZvZ (as evidenced by Stephano vs Petraeus at the Lone Star Clash 3) where spores shut down the most obvious harassment unit available to zergs against swarm hosts: mutas. Ground runbys are pointless as they will get destroyed by the locusts before they cause much damage. Looking at other match ups, in ZvP,  it might be a painful siege, but at least there are tempests to break the line, while in ZvT swarm hosts are largely ignored except when Zergs face mech; if zergs try to use swarm hosts against bio, they can expect disastrous drops all over the map.

So, how do you fix swarm hosts?

Like I said earlier, they are a horrible unit for the current game of Starcraft 2–the meta game at the professional level and at the higher spectrum of play. The tough thing that Blizzard has to do, and that we as a community tend to forget, is that they have to balance both for Jaedong and XxX666PoolRushXxX in bronze league.

My proposal is to make a change that will simply shake up the meta. Give the pros something to ponder that will spice up the game a little bit and, most importantly, open up new options.

Nydus worms. We were told there would be changes to nydurs worms in Heart of the Swarm; it was teased and then axed, much like the warhound (RIP). Whether it would be a deployable turret or spread creep or whatever, Blizzard said they wanted to do something with nydus worms and then never did. And I think now is the perfect time to try a change. A simple experiment that the community has requested for a long time: don’t restrict the number of nydus networks that can be built at one time.

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Think about it: in ZvZ, the biggest problem is that swarm hosts can just sit back and send out their locusts. There are no incentives to move them. Siege lines move because one person has more swarm hosts than the other, or there is some reason to divert some locusts away from the main point of conflict. Mutas are out of the equation because of spores, and the ground is pretty much dominated because of the locusts. Currently, if nydus worms are built in ZvZ, the enemy will spot them and quickly dispatch a wave of locusts or pull drones to kill the worm. If more than one nydus network could be built at one time, though, this becomes infinitely harder for the slow-moving locusts and swarm hosts. Suddenly, more army supply has to be reserved for mobile units, and swarm hosts can be used as they were intended: to supplement armies instead of being the army.

In general, buffing nydus networks is a long overdue change. Zerg is a race that’s all about mobility, and the swarm hosts destroy that for the most part. Nydus networks are still a low-risk threat to other match ups, as both Protoss and Terrans have higher mobility even in a swarm host-siege situation.

So, the pros as I see it:

1) In ZvZ, this will force Zerg opponents to invest in a more mobile army to counter possible nydus worm networks popping up on various sides of the map.

2) Swarm hosts themselves can be more mobile, popping up on different parts of the map, sieging for a moment, and then slipping away. This might be unbalanced and would require further testing, but it certainly doesn’t make for 2 hour long snorefests and might help balance the game in other ways.

3) More innovative play. Nydus networks are one of the most underutilized buildings/strategies in the game, typically only reserved for cheese play. The only building used less often is probably the fusion core.

Maybe instead of just making a change to the overall design of nydus networks, an upgrade ability (maybe available at lair, maybe hive) could be added to the game. This would allow further tweaking to nydus networks until a balance is found.

I am not a Master-level player. I play Zerg at the diamond level on the North American server. I am not going to pretend that I know everything about Starcraft. But making things viable seems like a good goal. A change to the nydus network might help break up the monotony of play. I know I for one am extremely tired of swarm hosts and their current role in the meta. Maybe this will imbalance the game, but honestly, I think most of us would prefer shaking up the metagame than enduring more of these mind-numbing swarm host games.

What are your thoughts on the swarm host situation in Starcraft 2? Do you think the unit can be saved by rebalancing it or other units? Or do you think it should be taken out completely?

Davvic and Duke Play Hawken

Continuing our spotlight on Hawken, we’ve made a Let’s Play video. Enjoy the adventures of Davvic and Duke as we romp through the beautiful world of Hawken. We’ll be making plenty more of these videos for Hawken and other games, so stay tuned.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here.

A Murder of Hawks: A Nooby Guide to Hawken

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Hawken has been out for a while now, but it seems that there has been a resurgence in interest since it popped up on Steam, and for good reason, too: the game features fast-paced mechs, interesting game modes, and a team-based focus (unless you’re playing free-for-all Deathmatch).

With new blood entering the beautiful, free-to-play mech combat arena, it’s important to understand that Hawken isn’t a traditional shooter. Lone-wolf style running around will only get you killed most of the time, unless you run into someone else who has strayed away from his squadron. And unlike other shooters, you always want the odds on your side. While winning a 2-on-1 is possible with some good juking, it’s much easier to stick with your team and ensure the numbers are on your side, particularly if you are new to the game.

If you still find yourself on the wrong end of a TOW missile too many times, check out our tips, which might just save your life and help your team to victory.

1)      Pay Attention To Your Team’s Position

Positioning is key in Hawken. A corridor or an open area with little cover can become a killing field. It’s all about knowing the maps and understanding where your mech excels and where it fails. A quick agile mech like the beserker doesn’t want to get shoehorned into a tunnel; he wants plenty of room to zip around and nuke down his opponents.

2)      Know Your Mech and Your Opponents’

When you looked at the scoreboard, pay attention to the symbols next to your teammates’ and oppoennts’ names. This conveniently gives you an at-a-glance look at the classes of your opponents. From there, use common sense: you don’t need more than one technician on your team (with a few exceptions), nor do you want your entire team to be composed of big, lumbering mechs or burst damage light mechs. Exploit the weakness of your opponents’ line up.

3)      Find The Mech That Suits Your Playstyle

Yes, mechs in Hawken cost more money than they should, but instead of buying internals that don’t do that much, save up your credits and buy a new mech. And while mechs might cost a pretty good amount of money, the game does a pretty good job cycling out which ones are available for test drive. Even though you don’t gain experience on the mech, test driving a new mech might give you something to work towards and completely change how you play the game.

4)      Know How to Play Siege Mode

Siege is a fantastic game mode (and you can also earn a ton of credits to buy new mechs), but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be confusing. Siphon energy from designated energy points on the map and then return them to your base to launch your battleship. Your battleship does damage to the enemy’s base, and shooting down battleships is easiest by controlling the AA battery on the map. So with that in mind, figure out if the enemy team has control of the AA site before launching your own battleship or else you’re dooming your progress in siege mode before it starts. Also, take note of the amount of energy your team has already collected instead of just rushing to energy sites. If your teammate is already on his way back to base with the required amount, head to the AA, but don’t rush in if the odds are against you.

5)      Flanking Is Your Friend

While this may seem counter-intuitive to point 1, flanking can completely change the tide of battle when done correctly. If it’s going to take you more than a handful of seconds to get around the enemy, then it’s probably not worth it to flank your opponents as the fight would already be over by the time you get there. However, if you’re in position when a fight breaks out, consider moving in behind enemy lines. Sure, sometimes you might get killed, but if you’re good, you could take down one or two people before you go down. Just focus fire down either the mechs in the back or any mech that is close to death.

 

Once you master these basics, the next best thing to do is find a group of friends to gather up and play. Preferably 6 people. Hawken is one of those games that’s far better with a team that you can trust than with random people that may or may not know what they are doing.

Pokemon X and Y Review: Pokecrack

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Here I am again, crawling through the grass, looking for a trainer battle, willing to do anything just for one more fight—anything, I mean anything. Someone has to tell me to stop, to move on to the next route. There’s no more Pokemon you haven’t seen here. But I can’t stop, I’m digging through the dirt, just hoping that maybe I can catch a wild duduo—is that even possible?—and suddenly it’s 2 AM. I got the Pokemon fever, and I got it bad. In fact, it hasn’t been this bad since the original Pokemon in 1998.

A lot has changed since the original 150 graced Game Boys everywhere and began printing money for Nintendo. Some of the changes feel disorienting—quite literally, the change of perspective from top down, 2D sprite to full 3D took some getting used to. But the new animation, sound, and forward-thinking design really sets both X and Y apart from former entries in the storied series. For example, you get a faster method of transportation (rollerblades in this case), a town map, and EXP share within the first hour or so of the game. EXP share that early in the game is a true game changer, as it’s much easier to keep your party closer in levels. In previous games, it took concerted effort to not have one Pokemon shoot up past your other party members. I’m not sure why that always bothered me, but it just did, and now that’s fixed and I have played so much in the last few days and this is my cry for help.

The improved graphics are such a huge change. I try not to be vain when reviewing and playing games. I tell myself that graphics don’t matter, that it’s really about gameplay, but what happens when the gameplay is already addicting like crack and suddenly the graphics jump from 1999 quality to 2013? Disaster, that’s what. This game has obliterated my free time. Even when friends convince me to do something else, I have my 3DS with me with Pokemon installed on its SD card. Play the Battlefield 4 beta? When I die, I might just stay dead for a bit as I finish a fight. Queuing up for Dota 2? Sounds like a perfect opportunity to explore a new route.

Pokemon X and Y Frogadier

Some people have criticized the character designs of some of the new Pokemon, to which I say: did you just chug a bottle of stupid pills? Yeah, a pile of garbage might not be the most interesting design, but look at those starters—look at Frogadier. I know I just did. And I just took 15 minutes from writing the previous sentence to this one because I started playing again.

In all seriousness, this game brings back what made the first game so addicting to me. I have been away from the series for quite some time, so seeing a ton of new Pokemon is both overwhelming and exhilarating. What type is that Pokemon? I found myself wanting to both look up wild Pokemon on a wiki and avoid it at the same time. Surely, it’s more interesting to capture one for yourself and update your Pokedex. Add to the formula the ability to customize your appearance, and you have Pokecrack all over again.

Of course, not everything is perfect about this game. If you don’t like RPGs, leveling up characters, and minimal storytelling, Pokemon hasn’t changed in those departments. In fact, the story in Pokemon X and Y I think is its weakest point. The cast of characters surrounding the main character are kind of pointless and don’t add anything to the game; without spoiling anything, there have been some “moments” that are trying to have some impact on the player, but they don’t pay off because no one cares about the characters, just the Pokemon. Also, the inability to control the camera in certain segments can make moving around tricky, particularly since the turbo for the rollerblades active whenever you push a direction. I ran into trouble moving around Lumiose City on occasion, but it wasn’t enough trouble to put down the game, clearly.

The biggest problem? For me, the game is too large to review properly. I can’t go into the ins and outs of high-level battling. It feels weird to even mention as a footnote how great the online system is, too, but it is great and it is awesome. A few taps of the lower screen and you can trade and battle anyone in the world or give them a temporary buff. Did I mention Mega Evolutions? No? There, they’re mentioned, they add another level to an already deep fighting system, and make badass Pokemon look even cooler. Everything that was awesome about previous Pokemon games has returned and the majority of it has been improved.

What can I say? This is the Pokemon game I always wanted as a kid. When talking to a friend about this write-up, he said, “I’ll start it for you: Best Pokemon ever. Oh wait, that’s all you need to write.” I think he might be on to something, but I don’t have time to bother. I have to get back to Pokemon X.

Battlefield 4 First Impressions: Deep Impact, Big Crashes

 

 

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The Battlefield series has been my shooter of choice since the original release of Battlefield 1942 in 2002 (Shh, Call of Duty 4; our love affair will remain forever a secret). I remember the thrill of hopping into a plane, strafing real players on the ground, and then parachuting out if need be to return to the battle. There wasn’t anything quite like it at the time, and there are very few games that do it as well as Battlefield to this day.

So the burning question on my mind is how is the Battlefield 4 beta? Is it the next evolution in the series, more of the same, or a step backwards?

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A Tale of Two Loot Drops

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I’m trying to go to bed earlier, but two games this weekend got in my way. The first, to no one’s surprise, was Diablo 3. As the hours ticked by, I kept telling myself one more dungeon, one more level up—oh look, here’s a cave that has nothing to do with whatever arbitrary objective I’m fulfilling, but I’m going to run in there anyway. It was fun, and I stayed up until 2 AM playing it, much to the chagrin of my fiancée.

I realized that Diablo 3 is the casino of gaming.

It draws you in with a high level of polish, flashing lights, pitch-perfect sounds. It captures your desire of winning, that thrill of getting the jackpot. And even though, unlike casinos, there is a clock in Diablo 3, you tend to ignore all concepts of time. 15 minutes pass by, then 30, then suddenly an hour or two, and you have either won it all—or, if you’re playing on hardcore mode, maybe you’re flat broke and sleeping on the street tonight.

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Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review: Out of Time

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Note from the Editor: We here at Morality Points firmly believe that video game reviews don’t have to be the most timely occurrence; many games go through initial bursts of popularity and fan-dom only to be hailed as the most boring 20 hours in the history of ever. Even though Final Fantasy XIII-2 came out in January, Stephen’s review offers a better perspective over the true merit of the game.

To avoid spoilers, I have avoided discussing the plotline.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the latest installment of the series created by Square-Enix and was released at the very end of January 2012. So, that begs the question: Why is my review coming out just now? Well, my playthrough of FFXIII-2 was nearly complete when my time and attention was stolen away by the arrival of Mass Effect 3. However, now that I’ve finally beaten the single player and played plenty of multiplayer, it’s about time for me to finish up with FFXIII-2.

As you can tell by the title, FFXIII-2 is the sequel to Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XIII was a controversial game that had both lovers and haters. I prefer to take the middle ground and say that Final Fantasy XIII had many great points but several big detractors, such as a lack of open world exploration, a linear plot, lack of cities and annoying voice actors.

With the creation of FFXIII-2, Square-Enix hoped to rectify the mistakes of Final Fantasy XIII. However, whether or not it was a success is debatable.

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