Wow, did I pick the right title for my blog.  Posting about something fun, exciting and important (to many I’d like to consider my peers as well as myself) almost a week after it starts?  Who, me???

Root canal on Wednesday, drugs galore since.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Back to the actual topic though, I’ve read about this for at least 2 years now thanks to Syp and Belghast.  I thought it was a pretty cool idea for “those ppl” but didn’t give it much attention at the time.  And now, here I am.  Most of my time since May 1st (and before, really) has been spent poking through the other newbies’ blogs.  And wow, I’m listed in impressive company!  Already I’ve had quite a bit of interaction with other bloggers just because of this, and if that’s all I ever get, it’s more than worth all the hooplah.

One of the reasons I keep coming back to WOW is the larger franchise it’s part of.  When I was a freshman in college, computers were virtually a new world to me.  The “Big New Game” at that time (among my new friends, at least) happened to be Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.  Yes, it was Blizzard 15 years ago who first showed me just how much I could “get into” video games.  MMORPGs are fun, but there will always be a big, warm place in my gaming heart for strategy games.  Whether RTS like Warcraft I-III or TBS like Heroes of Might and Magic I-VI, I like my war strategy games.

Which brings me to this post’s topic: mobile games.  Let me be blunt: I hate ALL mobile games that call themselves MMOs.  I hate the MMO strategy games where you start to build a town and suddenly you’re waiting days and weeks for anything to happen.  I also hate arcadey mobile games like candy crush or the latest movie “run”.  What other kinds of mobile games do I hate?  I’m glad you asked!  I hate the card battle games and most of the rpgs Android/Itunes have to offer.

“But… but, you just hated on 99% of all games for mobile phones!”  Yes, I sure did.  However, there are a few games I’ve tried that I’ve actually managed to keep on my phone and play.  A lot.  And as my earlier reminiscing might have hinted, most of them are war/strategy games.  So here it is, my must-play mobile game list.  Full versions of these are not free, unfortunately, but they all should be around $5 or less.

1) The Battle for Wesnoth

This game is a port from a freeware pc game.  Downloadable campaigns will quickly fill up your phone’s storage, but what the game comes with is plenty for a phone IMO.  The retro graphics should hardly be a turn-off to anyone willing to give such projects as Minecraft or Trove a try.  What I love most about this game is that each unit of yours has its own name, and they are usually upgradeable as they get experience from kills.  It is quite a nice hybrid of RPG and strategy.  If you enjoy it I highly recommend having a (free) copy on your PC as well, by the way, to experiment with all the user-made content.

2) Glory of Generals/Pacific War

Easy Tech has been pumping out games I enjoy for a while now, but these two are significant upgrades over earlier offerings, especially the artwork.  These World War II games focus on the European and Pacific theaters, respectively.  It gets tough to earn enough medals to purchase troop upgrades after a while, but such is the brave new world we live in.  I enjoy it enough to not mind the grind much anyway.  Campaign Great Victories give quite a nice number of medals (50), but only if you accomplish it on your first try.  The way to beat this is to restart the scenario before it ends if you’re not going to meet the turn limit for a Great Victory.   

3) Ravenmark

There are two entries in this series, but thus far only one is available on both Android and Itunes.  That would be Ravenmark: Mercenaries, mostly a multiplayer game featuring brigades that make up each player’s army.  Each player has two brigades to choose from, with various mixes of troop types.  The other game is Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, which is a series of single-player campaigns, but as of now only available on Itunes.  The developers are working on an Android version, but I won’t speculate when that might be released.  The strategy elements of the Ravenmark games are really deep and a treat to learn and experiment with, but what really sets these games head and shoulders above most others is the lore.  You can literally spend hours reading through the codex in the game, which covers everything from game mechanics to the history of the game’s world and even the lives of the brigade commanders.

4) Elder Sign: Omens

This is really just a game of automated dice tossing.  No, seriously.  But it’s amazing how interactive they can make it.  This is based on a board game of the same name and deals in horror themes based mostly on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.  The board game’s more famous sister game is Arkham Horror, but this little game is a lot more fun than I ever would have guessed before I tried it.  With dice rolls you end up gathering clues, tools and of course the titular Elder Signs that will seal an ancient evil away before it consumes the world!  BOM BOM BOMMM!!!  Your team of investigators can be killed, but they can also be taken out by going insane from all the horror they witness.  Wins don’t come easy in this game; generally more than half the time you will lose, often badly.  That matches the doomsday feel of the game’s lore, however, and makes victory SO satisfying.  The biggest drawback is how its multiple expansions can really add up the cash dumped into it.

I don’t see a lot of gamer blogs mention mobile games, at least not the ones I follow, so I thought I’d do something a little different at least once.

So, about a week or two after my other friends playing WOW, I went ahead and got the new expansion.  Only 8 more months to go till I can play the new content!!!  Actually the only reason for this was to have a boosted 90 to run around with my friends’ boosted chars.  I’d made a little level one Tauren druid about 2 weeks ago.  Boosting her was a very smooth process, which was unsurprising to me.  Say what you want about Blizzard, I’ve always appreciated how they’ve made relatively polished releases a calling card of theirs.  I went with restoration and guardian as the primary/secondary specs.  I figure that will make her about as flexible as any char can possibly be.  Now all I have to do is search for glyphs, read up on the specs and their rotations, read up on general druid “good practices”, queue for dungeons/scenarios/battlegrounds where my character will be universally reviled, even by other boosted 90s I’m sure… I’m starting to remember why endgame content has hardly ever interested me in any MMO.  When a game starts to feel like work, I’d just rather be doing something else.

This may be confusing to many people.  Why, if not to rush for the glory that is endgame, do I even play MMOs???  Call me crazy, but I actually like questing and popping acheivements.  I like exploring the lore of a game, I like watching my character’s progression from weak nobody to notorious legend.  I’ve always thought WOW is generally given less credit for the richness of its lore than it deserves.  I’m sure the fact that we’re given the option to completely disregard any and all quest text is a large part of why.  I’ve caught myself clicking “accept” on a new quest without even looking at it more often than I care to think about.  When your tasks have no context, of course leveling is going to be a grind.  Let people have their max lvls within a day, I’ll be enjoying myself while lagging behind.

I realize this may sound insincere, since I’m not one of the people participating this time around, but witnessing the excitement over the launch of a new game always makes me happy.  Which brings me to a bit of a promise I made: why didn’t I preorder (or order, for that matter) TESO?

Let me say right off the bat that I did participate in the beta, and the only negative thing about my experience was the length of the downloads.  I worried about how it would run on my laptop, but honestly that didn’t seem to be much of a problem.  I quite enjoyed the time I spent in the beta.  Of course I only made it as high as lvl 4 or 5 in any given weekend, and that fact hints at the real issue I have with plunking moolah down on TESO.

I liked the game, was intrigued by the story that was set up, and was interested in how unique the character-building process seemed to be.  I wasn’t particularly comfortable with the targeting, especially for ranged attacks, but I was confident I would get used to it.  I’d attempted to play Morrowind a few years back (ok more than a few) and never managed to get into it, but despite having the impression that the MMO got the main feeling and reputation of the Elder Scrolls series right, that didn’t seem as big a turnoff for me as I was afraid it might have been.

But even with the “new car smell”, I just don’t prefer it over what I already have/play.  I have several single-player games I’d like to catch up on.  Heroes of Might and Magic V had two expansions that I have yet to play, Mass Effect 1 & 2 (I don’t even own 3 yet) I’ve started but not come anywhere close to finishing, and in the Dragon Age games I have several alternate playthroughs in various stages of progress.  Even with that, I spend most of my gaming time (happily) in WoW or SWTOR, and am even pondering a return to LOTRO.  As agreeable as TESO was to me, it just wasn’t enough to distract me from these other games.

For me this is the main advantage of an MMO going free to play, or even buy-to-play (although I have yet to try GW2).  If I didn’t know I was signing on for another sub, I would probably play it just to be part of the community that is.  And while I think I’d like TESO, I already know I like WOW and SWTOR, so for a cautious fellow like me it’s just not enough.  At least not yet.

I’ve been back and forth on the subject of a blog for myself ever since they became a “thing”.  Mostly I’ve been against the idea.  I’ve always been very calculating and careful with my words.  In fact, my mother recently told me (while discussing my own daughter’s vocal experiments) that I never even tried to talk as a baby until alarmingly close to my third birthday, and once I finally started talking I was already using complete sentences.  I was startled by the revelation, but more than how unusual it sounded I was struck by how like me it was.  Not only do I generally think I have little to say about anything, but even what I do say gets carefully taken apart, put back together, puzzled over, tinkered with, and shaken like a toddler’s sippy-cup in my mind before it ever gets close to my mouth.  I’ll never be known for wit anywhere near quick.  I’m past being frustrated about that.  It’s just the way I am.  And the way I am always seemed to be the opposite of what a “good blogger” would be in my mind.  What ended up changing that mind?  I could dramatically proclaim that there’s no “good” way to express oneself, and everyone has a voice and all that inspirational nonsense.  In the end, it was simply other bloggers.


It took gobs of info on an MMO I was almost painfully interested in for me to actually follow a blog.  Open recruitment for a guild during a time I found myself mostly a loner in MMOs might have helped as well.  MMOGC’s posts about SWTOR and Mercygaming in the summer and fall of 2011 inspired me to participate in a game’s launch for exactly the second time in my life (although it can be argued that Wrath of the Lich King, being an expansion and not a full game, doesn’t even count).  Of course it didn’t take long for me to fall behind the pack, even in a self-styled casual guild.  Such is nearly always my fate in games, especially MMOs, and I blame that equally on the way I prioritize things in my life, and my appalling lack of ambition.  I consider myself more competitive than the average person, which is probably the only thing that makes me keep trying.


Syp’s Bio Break was on my radar for quite a while, but once he started his nostalgia lane series I was seriously hooked.  So far he’s covered 3 of my absolute favorites: Master of Orion, Planescape: Torment and Heroes of Might and Magic III.  It was admittedly self-gratifying fun to see how close to my own feelings he came in his posts about those games.  I also enjoy how it helps me experience second-hand some classics I never got to play and know all too well I will probably never take time to check out myself.


The Secret World is a game I have loved from a bit of a distance for quite a while now, mainly because I don’t like what happens to my game experience when other players are anywhere in sight.  Let’s just say my laptop was not a powerhouse gaming machine even when I got it new in 2009.  Rowanblaze’s blog I Have Touched the Sky has been the linchpin in a number of blogs that have kept my interest sky-high in a game I avoid far more often than I’d like to.


Belghast’s Tales of the Aggronaut has been inspiring in so many ways, some of them I can’t even articulate in my own mind.  Sometimes his subject matter is irresistable and sometimes it makes me shrug with indifference; sometimes it is all too relatable to my own life and sometimes he seems to be from an alien planet, but he always makes it interesting and familiar enough to read to the end.  Except in November, when my frustration at the realization that I REALLY don’t do well tying myself down to word counts made it hard for me to celebrate the wonderful time others were having with NaNoWriMo.  I did enjoy the first two posts of his novel’s progress enough to know I will go back and look at the rest of those as soon as my pride has licked its wounds enough.


There are others, of course, and more all the time.  But these four blogs in particular made me not only think “hey, maybe I do want to do that”, but also made me want to be part of a community that has earned my respect, admiration, and at times even jealousy 😉  Besides, how else could I let all the fine folks at Mercygaming/Alliance of Awesome know why I have not participated in the celebration that has been TESO’s launch, and will probably sit on the sidelines again when Wildstar comes out?  Well… besides Teamspeak.  And Twitter.  And – ahhh, never mind.