Without The Sarcasm https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com Insights. Analysis. Answers. Wed, 29 Mar 2017 22:06:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-question-mark-512-1-32x32.png Without The Sarcasm https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com 32 32 41351423 Has-Been Heroes Review: Too Old For This https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/heroes-review-old/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/heroes-review-old/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 22:06:41 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8676
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Has-Been Heroes wowed us at PAX South 2017, walking away with a total of 2 awards from us. A couple more months have passed, and Has-Been Heroes is just about to land on your favorite download services. Did Frozenbyte live up to the hype? Or is Has-Been Heroes too old for this… stuff. Find out now, in my Has-Been Heroes review!

Has-Been Heroes plays like a combination of a tactical RPG and a horde mode survival game like Plants vs Zombies. During battle, wave after wave of skeleton hordes march in from the right side of the screen, and it’s up to your band of three heroes to stop them before they hack you (and a couple of defenseless princesses) to pieces.

The tactical nature of the combat makes it somewhat hard to explain. Enemies have “stamina” which could also be thought of as a form of armor. Each green block of stamina can absorb one hit. Once an enemy’s stamina is gone, subsequent hits deal health damage. Once one attack has breached their stamina, the stamina completely fills again.

Each of your heroes can deal a number of hits per attack, depending on their class. The default knight does one hit, but it does a lot of health damage if it isn’t blocked by stamina. The speedy rogue hits three times, and does moderate damage. The mage hits twice, but is best used to reduce stamina, since he does little to no health damage per hit.

Related Video Want to skip the explanation and just watch the game instead? Here’s our video review:

If you manage to completely deplete the enemy stamina and hit them for health damage on the same attack, you deal health damage but there’s a penalty. What you really want to do is use an attack (or combo of attacks) to knock their stamina to exactly 0. Then, the enemy becomes stunned. The next attack does full damage plus it reduces their max stamina by one.

So, an enemy has 3 stamina. You attack with the rogue, hitting 3 times and knocking stamina to 0. Then you can attack with the knight for massive damage. But if the enemy has 4 stamina, you have to attack with both the knight AND the rogue, leaving just the mage who does just a tiny bit of health damage. But, then the enemy is knocked back and loses a stamina point for the next round. Alternatively, is it better to hit twice with the mage, and then three times with the rogue, dealing more health damage but not lowering their max stamina?

Oh wait, did I mention that there are three lanes, and heroes can only swap lanes when one of them has just attacked? So it might not be possible to optimize – the “best” enemy for your hero to attack might not be the one they can actually hit. You might just have to take whatever first hit makes the most sense, then reorganize your heroes so that the next attack set does better.

The tactical combat takes some getting used to, but it’s a very deep and interesting system that rewards you for thinking ahead. Aside from a few caveats (which I’ll cover later), I really enjoy playing the combat missions in Has-Been Heroes. It’s very satisfying once you get the hang of it.

The rest of the game surrounding Has-Been Heroes’ combat is much less complex by comparison. There’s really just the thinnest of plots connecting everything together, and it has very little to do with the game or your objectives themselves. Upgrading your heroes requires gold, and generally takes the form of either new spells that provide beneficial effects in combat, or new gear that boosts stats in some way or another.

Has-Been Heroes also features a lot of roguelike/roguelike elements. If any hero dies, that’s it, game over, start from the beginning again. As you play (win or lose), more gear and enemies are added to the game, a la Binding of Isaac. Navigating the map between events feels a bit like FTL – careful planning to hit every node possible maximizes your loot potential.

Most of my complaints about Has-Been Heroes stem from its train wreck of a UI.

First off, there are a lot of things that are just 100% unexplained and which I had to learn through trial and error. For instance, Has-Been Heroes helpfully explains that each hero has a different number of hits per attack, but leaves out the fact that the mage is basically useless at dealing damage. When you unlock a new hero, there’s no telling what skills/stats they have until you start a game with them in your party.

All new unlocks are added to the RNG pool but you have to pick them up at least once before the game shows you a description. Grabbing the wrong item with the wrong character can sometimes tank a whole run.

During combat, it can be very difficult to determine where enemies are and who will be attacked next. Enemies crowd and overlap in lanes, and between knockback and the huge damage text, the screen is often filled with unhelpful or misleading information.

Swapping heroes during Has-Been Heroes’ battles is a major pain. You can only swap the last hero to do an attack with someone else, but you can swap as much as you want. This leads to a lot of tedious swapping to get everyone where they belong.

Heroes only stay out for a millisecond after they attack – luckily, the game pauses in this state. Unluckily, it’s very easy to push the wrong button at the wrong time and make a lethal mistake. Even casting spells unpauses, so if you don’t do everything in just the right order, you’ll end up screwing yourself on the next wave of attacks.

Related Video Frustrated by some aspect of Has-Been Heroes? Maybe our 7 tips video will help!

I don’t really have a problem with hard roguelikes, but when what I’m fighting is the UI and the RNG, the difficulty feels arbitrary rather than challenging.

Has-Been Heroes
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:3/28/2015
Price:$19.99
Rating: - Good
Our Thoughts:

The core concept of Has-Been Heroes is excellent. I love the theory behind the combat, and I love the exploration. In practice, though, Has-Been Heroes is confusing and fiddly in ways that make it frustrating to play, rather than challenging.

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SxSW Gaming 2017 Con Awards https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/sxsw-gaming-2017-con-awards/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/sxsw-gaming-2017-con-awards/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 03:14:33 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8656
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SxSW Gaming 2017 changed up the formula from previous SxSW Gaming events. This year, entry wasn’t free! There were still a lot of booths occupied by award nominees from all corners of the globe, but there was also a section dedicated specifically to student game developers. All this mixed together to create a different SxSW Gaming experience from what we’re used to. Let’s take a look at the “best of the best” games that we picked from SxSW Gaming 2017!

About the Awards

Whenever WOTS goes to a con, we find games that really speak to us. We try to bring those to your attention by finding our favorites and featuring them. Our categories often change from con to con, depending on what’s popular and what we feel is deserving of recognition. All of the games on this list are ones that you should check out – they’re our hand-picked suggestions after weeks of research and two crazy days on the SxSW Gaming 2017 expo floor.

Together, we decide on a “Best in Show” for a particular category, and then if there’s a particular game one of us wants to highlight, we’ll give that an “Editor’s Choice” award. Our highest honor is the “Shut Up and Take My Money” award, which we give to the game that we have already decided we MUST own.

Best Strategy

Winner: Tooth + Tail

Pocketwatch Games | Home

agent86 Most RTS games are long, drawn out affairs. Tooth + Tail is far more compact and speedy by comparison. I think it stems from the rapid depletion of resources. Since you can’t just turtle forever, you’ve got to think very strategically at every engagement and the players have to break out of their comfortable bases and duke it out earlier rather than later.

EBongo While easy to pick up, Tooth + Tail clearly has a lot of depth to unpack. Resource and even simple territory control is essential, but “micro” aspects of training and rallying units also play a big role in overwhelming your opponent. If you are into strategy games, it has that excellent quality of drawing you in with the basics you can understand and then hooking you with all the possibilities of the different strategies you can build with the tool set.

Best Game Art

Winner: Far From Noise

George Batchelor | Home

agent86 Far From Noise packs a lot of unique artistic elements into a very tight experience. Most of the demo we played was from just one, fixed perspective. Subtle changes in the wind and lighting marked the passage of time, and various woodland creatures stopped in to visit. Despite the simplicity, Far From Noise turned our heads on multiple occasions, until we finally sat down to play it for ourselves.

EBongo We walked past the “game with the deer” at SxSW Gaming 2017 three times and couldn’t figure out what it even was. Something about the juxtaposition of a precarious situation in the middle of a beautiful and serene setting kept drawing us back until we finally got our hands on it. The visuals are beautiful, but the “game as art” concept and the various deep contemplations it provokes made me appreciate it even more. If you enjoy beautiful games that make you think this one is definitely worth checking out.

Best Plot/Lore Concept

Winner: No Truce With the Furies

Zaum Studio | Home

agent86 Probably my favorite part of the modern “western” RPG is trying to talk my way out of an otherwise difficult situation. My favorite runs of games like Fallout: New Vegas and Planescape: Torment are those where I max out my speech and manage to run the game without ever injuring so much as a fly. Taking that classic western RPG format and making the entire game about dialog and story is such an appealing concept to me!

EBongo The demo we saw for No Truce With the Furies was early, and the developer ZA/UM was quick to apologize and excuse its unfinished status. I have no idea why. Certainly there is more development ground to cover, but even in its current state this “hard knocks” police procedural was the weirdest-coolest game we saw at SxSW Gaming 2017. As a game character, I’ve never been more interested to learn why I’m not wearing any clothes. The isometric perspective and diceroll dialogue options give a nostalgic Shadowrun-like feel, but the utter bleakness and semi-psychotic introspections give it added unique flavor all its own.

Editor’s Choice (agent86): Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (or WTWTLW for short) is a story about stories. It’s like if you took the concept of loyalty missions from party-based RPGs and turned them into a game all their own. You collect experiences via FTL or 80 Days style events, which you can then share with people in exchange for bits and pieces of their own personal lore. It’s a fascinating concept that I’m excited to see the end result of.

Editor’s Choice (EBongo): event[0]

One to Watch

Winner: The Hex

Daniel Mullins | Home

agent86 The Hex is funky and unique and so very, very meta. The bit of it we saw appeared to be a pastiche of Sonic the Hedgehog inspired crappy platforming with what looked like negative Steam reviews encroaching on the play area. Apparently each “level” of The Hex is going to be a send-up of a different slice of gamer culture. There’s so much interesting stuff still TBD here, so I’m going to keep a close eye on it as it develops.

EBongo The Hex is so meta, and it knows it. Creating games within the game for each washed up video game cliche already creates some pretty entertaining variety, but peppering each flashback minigame with video game pop culture references cataloging its rise and fall take “meta” to a whole new level. The internet hate machine is not kind to a franchise that “jumps the shark” and The Hex transforms that scalding criticism engine into a lens to perceive how iconic game characters would feel if their rags to riches to rags rollercoaster ride were real. I’m extremely intrigued to see where this goes.

Repeat Offender

Winner: Mages of Mystralia

Borealys Games | Home Steam

agent86 Mages of Mystralia left us with an excellent impression following PAX South. Their open-ended spell crafting system has been a ton of fun to mess with at both events. Talking to Dan Adelman at SxSW Gaming 2017, it’s clear that they’re listening to their beta feedback and trying to polish the game as much as they can before release.

EBongo Mages funded their Kickstarter in less than 24 hours for good reason – because this game concept is awesome. We were already impressed at PAX South earlier this year, but even in the short time since that con it is clear that Borealys has been busy. Player feedback is being woven into the puzzlesauce. The full majesty of this games spell crafting engine is being made more accessible. Hearing this focus on continued refinement on what already looks like a great game makes me very excited about the final product.

Best Best Party/Mayhem/Relationship Ender

Winner: Invisigun Heroes

Sombr Studios | Home Steam

agent86 It seems like the party/mayhem space has a hankering for games where you can’t see yourself or other players. I feel like in the last year I’ve played at least three games in this vein. Invisigun Heroes tweaks the formula further with some crazy abilities. I was basically terrible at it, fumbling my way around the map and eating more than my fair share of high-velocity death. With more practice, I could see some pretty crazy scenarios playing out and some last minute come-from-behind victories being won.

EBongo A lot of party/mayhem games sort of have just one gimmick that is fun, but wears thin fairly quickly. You might expect Invisigun Heroes would tread that path, if you’ve played other “you’re invisible” party/mayhem titles. In fact, I found that “being invisible” was really just a small modifier to Invisigun’s robust mayhem language. Numerous character “classes” exist, each with unique abilities, and environmental power-ups add another level of variety to the mayhem layer cake. The result is a modern reimagination of Bomberman where the invisibility feels perfectly natural. I can’t see why any party game fan wouldn’t love it.

Best Kid Friendly

Winner: Tumbleseed

AEIOWU | Home

agent86 Tumbleseed‘s kid friendly exterior hides a relentlessly challenging interior. Honestly, though, a lot of the games I played as a kid were pretty darn hard. I could very easily see all my kids attempting to set high scores on this one.

EBongo One of the cool things about gaming is that good ideas and pure fun appeal to everyone. Tumbleseed is one of those games that is perfectly, simple, fun. The art is cute and accessible, the controls and core concept are simple, but the difficulty ramp and ability choices still make it feel challenging and rewarding. Tumbleseed definitely stood out from the SxSW Gaming 2017 pack as one of the few gems that “everyone” can enjoy.

Best Action

Winner: Ape Out

Gabe Cuzzillo & Devolver Digital | Steam

agent86 Escaped apes versus gun-toting mercenaries. It’s a tale as old as time. Ape Out is another game in the vein of Hotline Miami and Mr. Shifty where the action is frenetic and death is cheap. Smashing through glass walls and going totally ape (hah!) on guards kept me entertained. The slice we saw of it was relatively simple compared to similar games, but then again we couldn’t quite finish the second level in the time we had, so I will reserve judgement. Level 3 could have introduced banana grenades, I’m just sayin’.

EBongo I don’t know much about the backstory of Ape Out. I’m sure there is a justifiable reason for the Ape to bludgeon mass quantities of guards into an artistically bloody pulp. Putting his motives aside is easy, because splattering enemies is hilariously fun. The cymbal crashes and sharp color contrasts make every hit feel satisfying, and even though I failed a lot I always wanted to play “just one more round”. Check out the awesome playable trailer demo if you want a taste of the action.

Best New Concept

Winner: Tumbleseed

AEIOWU | Home

agent86 I don’t think I’ve ever played a roguelike quite like Tumbleseed. Heck, I don’t think I’ve ever played a game quite like it. The controls take some getting used to – it’s a bit like the tank controls in games like Katamari Damacy plus some sort of uber-difficult version of Marble Madness stuck on top. I haven’t even touched on half the systems it has going… before this turns into a crazy long Tumbleseed essay, let’s just settle on “it’s unique!” and leave it at that.

EBongo The most delightful new gaming concepts are those that feel natural but utterly unexpected, and Tumbleseed is just that. Tell me that AEIOWU stole your idea for a cute seed rolling roguelike mountain climbing game, and I’ll call you a liar. Its out there, its different, but despite its off the wall concept it feels so intuitive that you quickly internalize that you are a seed that must climb this mountain. There is just no other option.

Editor’s Choice (EBongo): Epitaph

New to SxSW Gaming 2017 was a large student developed gaming section – and Epitaph stood out in that crowd. Wrapping a ton of fighting and strategy elements into one package doesn’t make Epitaph super easy to pick up and dominate – but it does make it a pretty cool and refreshing take on tactical position based strategy. There are a lot of good ideas woven in, and I especially love that a “puzzle mode” is included to slow things down for a new player who isn’t totally ready for real time. The “come back stronger” death mechanic is the cherry on top of a crazy thoughts cupcake. How does it taste? Good… it tastes good.

Best Puzzle Game

Winner: The Pedestrian

Skookum Arts LLC | itch.io Steam

agent86 The Pedestrian takes ordinary, everyday objects and forms them into mind bending puzzles. Having just completed The Witness, I can appreciate a puzzle game that is a bit more… “clear” in its iconography.

EBongo I dig puzzling and platformers, so The Pedestrian was a pleasant SxSW Gaming 2017 surprise. Using simple iconography in the style of a crosswalk sign might sound a little flat – but in fact the puzzles built to some impressive intensity even in the first few minutes. Arranging frames like puzzle pieces reminded me a lot of Framed, but in this case its still on you to pull of the platforming once you have the frames in the right spot. Some Pedestrians were harmed in the making of this award.

Best Co-Op

Winner: Overcooked

Ghost Town Games & Team17 Digital | Home Steam

agent86 I love co-op games because I find playing with my friends towards a common goal way more fun than playing against them. Co-op games often don’t require that much coordination or organization in order to win, though. In many cases, “co-op” just means “well, we made the enemies 20% harder, and more than one person can shoot them at the same time.” Overcooked is one of those rare games where everyone has to come together in order to succeed.

EBongo Having previously heard about Overcooked prior to SxSW Gaming 2017 I expected it to be good. I did not expect it to be this good. agent86ix and I have accomplished some amazing video game feats of skill, but we can not yet say that we have mastered the manufacture of virtual three-ingredient burritos. At least, we can’t say that yet

Best Music/Rhythm

Winner: Metronomicon

Puuba & Kasedo Games | Home Steam

agent86 Metronomicon proves that rhythm and RPG go together like peanut butter and chocolate. RPG battles are often dry affairs, but adding rhythm elements makes them far more interactive and engaging. Meanwhile, rhythm games are often very one-and-done, with not a lot of connective tissue to bind them together. Like Puzzle Quest blended match-3 and RPG, Metronomicon shows us that the right combination of flavors makes all the difference.

EBongo Games were meant to be played while listening to awesome music. Metronomicon lets you listen to awesome music and feel like you are a part of creating it – wielding it as a weapon against your foes. There are classes, ability mechanics, boss fights… tons of good stuff – but there is also music so awesome that you need to own the soundtrack. Did I mention it was awesome?

Best Stealth

Winner: Shadow Tactics

Mimimi Productions & Daedalic Entertainment | Home Steam

agent86 Hardcore stealth really requires a few key elements to get right. A good hardcore stealth game needs to give the player good feedback about safe ways to approach a given enemy encounter. It also needs to be clear and easy to save and load so that you can experiment and undo mistakes. Finally, you’ve got to feel powerful when you’re doing it right. From what I played of Shadow Tactics at SxSW Gaming 2017, it nails all these key elements and a whole lot more.

EBongo Even though I’ve done a lot of “hardcore” gamer things, I never think of myself as a hardcore gamer. At face value, hardcore stealth like any other hardcore genre doesn’t overly appeal to me – but games like Shadow Tactics make me want to be hardcore. A game this good makes me forget that I hate losing, that I hate failing, that I don’t like pressure. It demands great things from me, and I oblige – because every super-sneaky rabbit I pull out of my hat feels amazing.

The “Shut Up and Take My Money” Award for Best in Show Overall

Winner: Shadow Tactics

Mimimi Productions & Daedalic Entertainment | Home Steam

agent86 Hardcore stealth is kind of my jam. I mean, in the past couple of months I’ve played Hitman, Dishonored 2, and Volume. The small slice of Shadow Tactics I got to play at SxSW Gaming 2017 just blew me away, though. I want to play SO BAD. It’s very well executed stealth, with multiple swappable characters, and all kinds of crazy ninja action.

EBongo There is a certain kind of stealth game that I really dig, and Shadow Tactics is that kind of stealth game. You are tough enough to shuriken your way out of a few missed steps, but being a sneaky bastard feels so much more rewarding that it makes you want to replay sequences just to go flawlessly undetected. The control scheme for executing ninja awesomeness feels natural and accessible enough that for a few minutes at a time I can forget that I am not actually a dextrous elite assassin. This is what every stealth game should aspire to be.

Editor’s Choice (EBongo): Overcooked

When you watch someone playing Overcooked it seems so easy. “Just put the tortilla on the plate” you think. “Why are you dropping that meat on the floor” you think. When you play Overcooked it starts out that way, and quickly devolves into a Hell’s Kitchen level panic filled shitshow. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me its like a Destiny raid where every completed burrito drops Vosik’s shield a little lower. No single task is that hard, but the level of coordination and communication required to do it all well feels very rewarding when you succeed. Now I just need to put together my raid team.

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LucidSound LS20 Review https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/lucidsound-ls20-review/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/lucidsound-ls20-review/#respond Sun, 19 Mar 2017 15:24:25 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8631
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Certainly the star of our LucidSound care package is the LS30, but LucidSound also sent along a sample of their wired headset, the LS20. The two headsets have a lot in common, and it’s clear they share a lot of the same DNA. If you’re on the fence about the LS20, chances are you’re comparing it to its bigger brother. Coming up, we’ll take a close look at the LS20 vs the LS30 and see what you give up if you save a few bucks going for the lower-cost LS20.

LS20 vs LS30: What’s the same?

Related Article I’m going to very quickly cover a lot of similarities between the LS20 and the LS30, but if you want a more in-depth overview of the “LucidSound style,” read through my LucidSound LS30 review and then head on back over here for the LS20-specific bits.

Let’s first talk about what’s exactly the same between the LS20 and the LS30:

  • Both feature anodised aluminum frames
  • Both have optional boom mics (and in fact the mics are identical down to the blue “mute” LED on the end)
  • Both have built-in “mic monitoring” while powered
  • Both have 3.5mm analog audio input/output
  • Both feature internal rechargeable batteries and micro USB charging ports
  • Both work without power, but without power the volume and mute controls don’t work
  • Both headsets’ cups rotate for more comfort when you’re wearing them around your neck

LS20 vs LS30: What’s the difference?

LS20 has no USB “base station”

Obviously, the biggest thing about the LS20 right away is the lack of wireless. There’s no USB “base station” included with the LS20, and any audio coming into or out of the sets is via the 3.5mm jack on the left ear cup.

The base station does more than just wireless, though. It’s how the LS30 handles dealing with separate voice and game audio channels. Thus, the LS20 is missing a few voice chat features that the LS30 has. The right earcup still has the mic mute button, but the ring around the outside of the button is fixed in position and can’t be used to control voice volume. You’ll need to work with your PC or console’s software mixing to change the voice/game balance, which can be much harder to mess with in the heat of a competitive match.

Without wireless audio and voice/game mixing feature, I have a hard time understanding how much the powered amplifier really adds for most people. I found that the sound quality and maximum volume were pretty much identical between the powered on and powered off states. You do lose the hardware volume control and mute (as well as the mic monitoring) if the headset is off, though.

LS20 is on-ear vs the LS30’s over-ear design

Both the LS30 and LS40 are over-ear, meaning that the ear cup rests against your head and your entire ear is covered by the headset. The LS20 is LucidSound’s only on-ear design. The outer diameter of the cups just about matches the height of my ear. Really, on-ear vs over-ear is typically a personal preference, although there are some reasons why I think the LS20’s design is inferior in this particular case.

For one, both LucidSound headsets I’ve tried had very stiff headbands. This puts a fair amount of pressure on the sides of your head. I found this less objectionable with the LS30’s over-ear design, since with the LS20’s on-ear design I get a lot more squishing of my ears.

Another important point is that the mic mute button is on the right ear cup, which means you have to press down on the cup to mute or unmute the mic/game. On top of this putting extra pressure on your ears, there’s enough compression required that there’s an audible squishing sound that comes from the cup’s padding pressing against your head.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call the LS20 uncomfortable, but I certainly prefer the LS30’s design for these reasons.

LS20’s “console modes” and bass boost

Given that the LS20 has limited control over the incoming analog audio, LucidSound designed a set of three presets to ensure optimal performance depending on what the headset is connected to. One set is for PlayStation 3/4, the other for Xbox 360/One, and one for PC/mobile use. It’s hard to quantify what the differences are specifically, although I did determine that one of the modes disables the mic monitoring. Most likely this is a feature built into that console’s audio profile already.

The LS30 has an EQ button that switches between normal, bass boost, and treble boost. This wasn’t really a killer feature to me, but the LS20’s version is weirder still. The button is still marked “EQ,” but now it just toggles on and off a bass boost. I honestly had a really tough time telling if the bass boost was on or off. The boost is so weak that I really had to play something super bass heavy to even notice.

LucidSound LS20
Links:Homepage, Amazon
Price:$99.99
Rating: - Good
Our Thoughts:

The LS20 is a well-made headset with a bunch of unique features. The core feature set is high quality and executed well. The lack of wireless and separated voice/game audio hurts, though. In the end, the LS20 is eclipsed by the LS30 and can’t quite beat the competition to become my favorite wired headset.

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LucidSound LS30 Review https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/lucidsound-ls30-review/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/lucidsound-ls30-review/#respond Sun, 19 Mar 2017 15:11:17 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8627 go get caught up! LucidSound is a relatively new name in gaming-grade audio devices, but as I mentioned in our PAX South coverage, these guys have been working in gaming audio for quite some time now, previously under the Tritton brand name. That pedigree would give the impression that the LS30 is going to be more polished than you'd expect a first offering to be. Now that we've got our hands on a pair of LS30's, let's put them through their paces in this LucidSound LS30 review!
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Back in January, we checked out the LucidSound booth at PAX South. If you missed that coverage, go get caught up! LucidSound is a relatively new name in gaming-grade audio devices, but as I mentioned in our PAX South coverage, these guys have been working in gaming audio for quite some time now, previously under the Tritton brand name. That pedigree would give the impression that the LS30 is going to be more polished than you’d expect a first offering to be. Now that we’ve got our hands on a pair of LS30’s, let’s put them through their paces in this LucidSound LS30 review!

The LS30 is the “midrange” offering from LucidSound. It has full wireless support for PC and console gaming, unlike the low end, wired LS20. The LS30 is lacking the LS40’s 7.1 surround sound, and its higher end custom memory foam ear cups.

The Hook Up

The LS30 connects to consoles and PC via a USB wireless sound card that LucidSound calls the “base station.” Audio data appears to flow to the base station via USB for PC, but for consoles USB appears to just be for power. To get audio, you’ll also be plugging in an optical cable between the base station and the back of the console. If you’re playing on an Xbox 360 or Xbox One, chat audio flows through a wire between your controller and the headset. You could argue that this makes it less wireless (I mean, c’mon, there’s a wire…) but most of the Xbox headsets I’ve seen require a connection between the controller and the headset for game chat to function.

On the PC, the USB base station shows up as two audio devices – one for game audio and one for chat audio. If you use an audio chat program that supports choosing audio outputs, you can use the chat volume functionality just like you would on a console. I don’t think I’ve seen this before, and it’s really a smart differentiator to the LS30 over most wired headsets especially. Just make sure you pick the right playback option in the Sound control panel – the chat audio is mono only!

In addition to the digital USB audio in, the LS30 also supports wired analog audio via a 3.5mm jack. In this mode, the headset doesn’t require any other cables or power to function. This is the only option you’ll have if you’re playing audio from a device that doesn’t have USB and/or digital optical out – from your phone, for instance. The 3.5mm interface supports call control functionality for cell phones, though.

Bluetooth seems like an obvious omission from a wireless headset, but from what I gather in talking to LucidSound CEO Chris Von Huben at PAX South, the decision to go with a proprietary wireless standard stems from a desire for maximum audio quality. Bluetooth audio is compressed, which often leads to a poor listening experience. LucidSound’s implementation sends full fidelity audio from your device to the headset, minimizing any possible quality loss.

Controls

I’m a big fan of being able to control my headset without having to mess with my device settings. For the Xbox One in particular, controlling chat vs game volume is often a painful experience involving the Xbox One settings, the game’s settings, and tweaks to my device’s controls. Thankfully, LucidSound’s LS30 headset integrates all the controls you need in an intuitive manner.

There’s a series of buttons and connectors along the bottom of the ear cups. While most of these are pretty standard, two things stand out. One is that there’s an “EQ” button for switching between normal, bass boost, and treble boost modes. There’s not any sort of fine control here, but the difference between the three modes is definitely noticeable. The other interesting thing here is the boom mic port – it’s technically optional. There’s a built-in mic that provides decent audio quality without having to mess around with having the extra bulk of the boom. The boom mic does have a mute LED that is pretty nice, though.

Meanwhile, the outer shell of each ear cup is actually where the integrated volume and mute controls are. The LucidSound logo panels are big buttons that can be pressed to mute game volume (on the left side) or chat volume (on the right side). When the chat volume is muted, a blue LED lights on the end of the mic boom. The ring around the logo twists to control the volume of that side’s audio.

A couple of small nits to pick here – the mic connects on the left side, but the chat volume controls are on the right side. This means that the mute indicator and mute button are on opposite sides, which I find a bit weird. The other thing I’m a bit skeptical of is the mute LED. I tend to keep my mic on mute a lot of the time, and I found the brightness of the LED so close to my eyes to be a bit much. I could always unplug the boom when I plan on spending a lot of time on mute, and maybe I’ll just get used to the light over time, but making this feature optional somehow would be better for me.

Comfort & Style

The LS30 headset is an over-ear design with a pretty standard size adjustable headband. The visible parts of the band and ear cup supports are made of anodized aluminum, which gives the LS30 significant durability without weight.

The ear cup material is a faux leather around soft foam. The cups themselves are big enough that I can fit my entire ear inside without pinching or smashing it against my head, but it’s a close thing. The headband doesn’t have a lot of give, so the fit feels a bit tight, but not uncomfortably so. There’s a bit of rotation between the band and the cups that allows the cups to adjust to the slope of your head and distribute the pressure of the headset a bit more evenly.

My (extremely small headed) wife couldn’t adjust the headband small enough to fit her comfortably, and the cups didn’t really adjust far enough that it sealed well against her head. She is notorious for having difficulty finding headsets due to her head size, so if you similarly have trouble with “one size fits all” headsets, I’d suggest checking the fit before you jump in.

The LS30’s cups can also rotate to the point where they sit comfortably against your chest for times when you’re carrying the headset around your neck. They don’t rotate fully to where the cups would lay flat on a table, though.

It’s clear that the LS30’s were designed to buck the industry standard design for “gaming headset.” The anodized aluminum frame, plus details like the stitching, the placement of the buttons/controls, and the overall build quality of the set scream “lifestyle” instead of “l33t gamer d00d.”

Audio Quality

LS30’s come equipped with 50mm drivers, which provide excellent audio quality across a wide range of applications. Music playback was crystal clear with well defined bass. I didn’t hear any distortion or odd audio artifacts. I also loaded up Dishonored 2 and tested the LS30 against my HyperX Cloud Revolver. Both headsets performed well, and there wasn’t a clear victor in terms of positional audio or immersiveness.

On the audio input side, the boom mic is clearly the better option. It did a good job of picking up my voice, even when I was talking quietly. The built-in mic is no slouch, but by design it has to pick up a lot more of the audio from your environment than you might want.

The mic monitoring to me is a bit of a mixed bag. I like being able to hear what’s going on around me, and being aware of my voice volume is frequently useful. However, I do wish I could turn it off. Sometimes I brush up against the mic or exhale loudly while there’s no game chat, and I really don’t need to hear that. Between the mic monitoring and the blue LED mute, it’s clear that the LS30 was designed for people who spend the majority of their gaming time chatting with others.

LucidSound LS30
Links:Homepage, Amazon
Price:$149.99
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

LucidSound’s LS30 breaks the mold for both wireless and gaming headsets. Its audio quality is just as good as comparable wired headsets, which is no simple feat. The LS30 also manages to pack a bunch of very useful features into an intuitive, stylish design. Finally, it manages to do all this at a price point far below comparable wireless gaming headsets. My only complaints are the lack of Bluetooth for mobile, and that I wish some of its features were more configurable.

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Loot Rascals Review: Rascally Roguelike https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/loot-rascals-review-rascally-roguelike/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/loot-rascals-review-rascally-roguelike/#respond Sat, 04 Mar 2017 21:18:30 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8585 favorite games of PAX South 2017 was Loot Rascals, my Editors Choice for Best Strategy. Indie dev Hollow Ponds is putting the finishing touches on the game for a March 7th release, and I was lucky enough to snag a review copy! Does the full game live up to the con demo hype? Coming up next, my Loot Rascals review!
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Another one of our favorite games of PAX South 2017 was Loot Rascals, my Editors Choice for Best Strategy. Indie dev Hollow Ponds is putting the finishing touches on the game for a March 7th release, and I was lucky enough to snag a review copy! Does the full game live up to the con demo hype? Coming up next, my Loot Rascals review!

Related Video On our YouTube channel, you can watch a quick review recap, plus some gameplay footage:

Roguelikes have existed almost as long as computer games have. The genre was largely ignored by major developers for decades, with open source projects like Angband and Nethack carrying the roguelike torch in the absence of widespread interest. The “indie revival” of the last 10 years has brought about a resurgence in interest in at least some elements of roguelikes – most notably the high degree of difficulty and the fact that losing generally means wiping your current game completely out.

Rather than just borrowing from the genre piecemeal, Loot Rascals hews far closer to the standard formula for a roguelike. Loot Rascals is a turn based role playing game where bad strategy (or just bad luck) can easily wipe your character and force you to start again.

Many of Loot Rascals’ deviations from the standard roguelike format appear to be intended to make it more approachable for casual play. The interface is clearly designed around controller play, which I actually really like. Loot Rascals also eschews the standard square grid of most classic roguelikes in favor of a hexagonal approach, which makes navigating diagonally with an analog stick possible.

Thankfully, even with the interface simplifications, Loot Rascals is still very strategy focused. Combat, for instance, is at once both simpler and more complex than it first appears. Enemies roam the map, and when you encounter one it’s a battle to the death. Depending on the enemy and the time of day, you might attack first or defend first. It’s typically beneficial to attack first, for mathematical reasons we’ll get to in a minute. Thus, sometimes you’re going to be dragging enemies around behind you, trying to stay one step ahead until the time is right to attack.

Combat itself is a numbers game that requires a bit of math and a lot of luck to get right. Your character has two scores: attack and defense. Enemies just have one, which represents both their attack and HP. When you attack, your attack stat is subtracted from their HP. When they attack, their attack is divided by your defense. If the result is greater than or equal to one, you lose that many HP (rounded down). So if they have an attack of 14 and you have a defense of 7, if the enemy hits you, you lose 2HP. If the result is less than one, you have that percentage chance of losing 1HP. In the case where their attack is 2 and your defense is 4, the odds are 50/50 that you’ll get hit.

The wrinkle here is that you’ve only really got 5 HP to work with, and increases or restorations to this total are few and far between. Thus, it’s absolutely essential to fight baddies on your terms, where you’re likely to knock down their attack/HP to levels that are unlikely to hurt you before they get a shot in. There’s also never a situation where you can be 100% certain that you’re not going to get hit if the enemy attacks you – you’re at the mercy of the RNG even with obscene amounts of defense.

Managing your attack and defense stats is also a simple, yet complex process. Enemies have a chance to drop a card when they die. This card can then be equipped in any one of 8 slots on your character. However, many cards have buffs or debuffs that affect nearby cards, so although all the slots are identical, cards may have a different effect depending on how they’re arranged. Some cards can even flip between providing an attack bonus and a defense bonus. Special cards can grant you game-changing abilities, and finally there are cards which are equipped on other cards that bestow elemental attacks.

Related Video Stuck on the first level? WOTS has your back with our Top 10 Tips for Loot Rascals:

Although I spent a lot of time carefully arranging my cards to max out the benefits, the interface is simple and clear enough that the whole process just breezes by. Cards are clearly marked and explained, which makes inventory management no big deal. Cards you don’t need can be converted to tokens, which can be cashed in to power special abilities or to restore your health.

Loot Rascals has kind of an interesting “quasi-multiplayer” element to it as well. When you die, the enemy that killed you can steal some of your current cards. These cards are then available to other players in other games, if they manage to kill powerful named monsters and recover them. They then have the option to return the card to you, or take it for themselves. Later, that choice can come back to help or haunt you – if you return another player’s card, a hologram of that player might come and assist in your game, but if you took the card, they might be itching for a fight with you instead.

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far in the article without mentioning the unique art style! Jeez. Let me rectify that situation forthwith. Hollow Ponds employed a couple of animators for Loot Rascals, and both have excellent pedigrees. First up we have David Ferguson, who (among other things) guest animated an episode of Adventure Time in 2015. The art style in Loot Rascals is definitely reminiscent of his other work. The other heavy hitter on the team is Brent Kobayashi, who is probably best known as the creator of Spry Fox’s distinctive art style.

A single playthrough of Loot Rascals is generally pretty short – early deaths notwithstanding, it’s possible to play to completion and clear all 5 floors of the dungeon within an hour or so. Replayability is mostly in the form of setting leaderboard scores for how fast and how efficiently you managed to finish. The floors themselves don’t have a ton of variety, either. Enemies at the lower levels are often recolored versions of enemies on the early floors. Late-game cards tend to be just numerically superior variants of cards you find on early floors as well.

Taken together, Loot Rascals doesn’t have the same level of near-infinite replayability that other roguelikes boast. Dungeons of Dredmor has an obscene number of classes to choose from, and a huge variety of items, enemies, and strategies. FTL has a ton of unlockable content and random events that drastically change the game from play to play. By comparison, Loot Rascals ends up feeling rather repetitive.

Loot Rascals
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:3/7/2017
Price:$15.00
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

Loot Rascals is a quirky, unique roguelike that manages to simplify the genre without taking away the strategic bits that make roguelikes so much fun. My only major issue with it is that it lacks the level of variety that is really required for maximum replayability.

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Automata Empire Review: Automata for the People https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/automata-empire-review-automata-people/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/automata-empire-review-automata-people/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:59:54 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8573 Automata Empire first popped up on our radar after a most unlikely demo - we saw it at an afterparty during PAX South 2016. It took home our Pleasant Surprise award at the con for popping up out of nowhere and stealing our hearts. Automata Empire released last April, but somehow we lost track of it until we bumped into Nonadecimal Creative again in an unlikely place - the Black Ice booth at PAX South 2017! We're not letting this one get away again - let's nail down these little fuzzy monsters before they head off in a random direction. It's time for our Automata Empire review!
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Automata Empire first popped up on our radar after a most unlikely demo – we saw it at an afterparty during PAX South 2016. It took home our Pleasant Surprise award at the con for popping up out of nowhere and stealing our hearts. Automata Empire released last April, but somehow we lost track of it until we bumped into Nonadecimal Creative again in an unlikely place – the Black Ice booth at PAX South 2017! We’re not letting this one get away again – let’s nail down these little fuzzy monsters before they head off in a random direction. It’s time for our Automata Empire review!

Related Video Over on YouTube, WOTS went into some basic strategies for playing Automata Empire, check out the replay:

Automata Empire is clearly a real-time strategy game, although it differs significantly from just about every other RTS I’ve ever played. Instead of controlling units, you only control where structures are built. The units themselves (monsters, they’re termed) wander aimlessly around the map unless otherwise directed. Depending on how many monsters inhabit the same tile, their behavior changes. Some groups wander randomly, others chase enemies, but the really interesting groups are the ones that can’t quite keep it together.

If there are too many monsters in one tile, they will try to split. This splitting causes the group to break into four smaller groups, but when they split their numbers increase. The monsters are both your only resource and the backbone of your army. Thus, the trick to growing your army in Automata Empire is establishing a solid monster breeding program. But beware – if the monsters are too dense in an area, they will spontaneously evaporate!

Various structures can be built on the map, each with its own monster-harnessing purpose. Roads and catapults move monsters from one area to another, while walls and taverns keep them together and foster more opportunities to grow their numbers. You can equip your monsters to fight with both spears and shields, which increases their lethality and survivability in combat.

Most of the game modes pit your monsters against enemy monster teams in objective-based combat. There’s a simple “kill all the enemies” mode, plus capture the flag (an interesting problem when you can’t directly control your units), base defense, and a sort of “last mand standing” zombie survival mode.

Automata Empire is a game all about patterns, and those patterns can be quite hypnotic. The monsters dance and spin around the map, splitting and joining and colliding with enemies. With little to no micromanagement to speak of, the game is all about long term strategy instead of blazing fast actions-per-minute.

The random elements of the game kind of undercut the strategy, however. Just when you think you’ve figured out the patterns, something unexpected happens that can throw off your careful planning. The occasional monkey wrench wouldn’t be a bad thing, but sometimes a whole colony of monsters just collapses and there’s not a real reason why.

Automata Empire
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:4/8/2016
Price:$8.99
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

Automata Empire is as chaotic as it is hypnotic. The strategy focus and the simple mechanics make it easy to learn but difficult to master. That simplicity and randomness cut both ways, though, yielding a few frustrating moments.

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Getting and Spending Command Points – Marvel Puzzle Quest https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/command-points-mpq-marvel-puzzle-quest/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/command-points-mpq-marvel-puzzle-quest/#respond Sun, 12 Feb 2017 23:34:31 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8564 Marvel Puzzle Quest. MPQ Command Points (CP for short) have quickly gained a reputation as one of the best ways to get 4-star covers, though. Optimizing your MPQ CP gain and spending those command points properly is a key strategic part of Marvel Puzzle Quest. In this Command Point guide for Marvel Puzzle Quest, I'll give you all the info you need to make smart Command Point decisions. You'll be earning 4-star covers like nobody's business!
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Compared to Hero Points and ISO-8, Command Points are a relatively recent addition to Marvel Puzzle Quest. MPQ Command Points (CP for short) have quickly gained a reputation as one of the best ways to get 4-star covers, though. Optimizing your MPQ CP gain and spending those command points properly is a key strategic part of Marvel Puzzle Quest. In this Command Point guide for Marvel Puzzle Quest, I’ll give you all the info you need to make smart Command Point decisions. You’ll be earning 4-star covers like nobody’s business!

Getting Command Points in Marvel Puzzle Quest

There’s a number of ways to get Command Points in Marvel Puzzle Quest. Some of the major ones are:

  • Daily Login Rewards (“Shield Resupply”) can sometimes be Command Points
  • PvP and PvE Placement and Progression rewards grant Command Points
  • At certain Champion levels, the reward is some extra CP
  • As a bonus for spending money

You Can’t Buy Love (or Command Points)… Sorta

Command Points are the only currency in Marvel Puzzle Quest that you can’t purchase directly. Well, kinda… you do get small Command Point bonuses for you and your alliance when you spend money on VIP plus larger packs of ISO-8 or Hero Points. On the one hand, if you’re in an alliance with 20 people and you purchase something that gives everyone +7 Command Points, that’s 140 CP in one go! However, very little of it actually goes to you, so this is a terribly inefficient way of getting Command Points.

Command Points from Events

Both PvP (“Versus” tab) and PvE (“Story” tab) events in Marvel Puzzle Quest can easily earn you Command Points rapidly. In my opinion, PvE events offer easier CP gains with lower stress.

Pro Tip Whatever your chosen method is, if you’re playing for CP, make sure you max out your SHIELD Clearance Rank. It does not affect the difficulty of the matches you have to play, but it does increase the rewards.

Earning Command Points from PvE Events

At most SHIELD Clearance Ranks, you’ll have 3 progression rewards milestones at which you’ll earn Command Points. Two of them are fairly early in the progression rewards – before you hit the halfway mark for the top prize. The top prize in most PvE events is a giant chunk of MPQ Command Points, but getting there can be a serious pain.

Pro Tip Generally you’re going to need to average around 10,000 points per day in order to get the top prize in a MPQ PvE event. The points increase on later days, so don’t sweat it too much if you fall a few thousand short on your first day. However, it is really hard to hit that top tier milestone without all three required characters plus clearing every node 4-6+ times, until it’s worthless.

Placement rewards in Marvel Puzzle Quest’s PvE can also award Command Points, but they’re typically hard to get. The more you play and win, the harder brackets you’re likely to be matched into. That, coupled with the low number of CP gained and the difficult grind to get there means that it’s not going to be your primary source of Command Points unless you’re truly a hardcore MPQ’er.

On the later nodes each day, one of the random rewards tends to be 1 CP. It may not look like much, but considering you can earn 3-4 CP this way daily, it can make an excellent addition to your Command Point total. If you’re grinding the nodes to get points towards the progression rewards, chances are you’ll end up with it anyhow.

Earning Command Points from PvP Events

PvP (“Versus”) events also award CP for both progression and placement. I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to push up and hold a leaderboard position in PvP. If you’re really hardcore into MPQ, maybe you can spend cash on shielding and keep your score longer, but for me I spend most of my Hero Points on new slots instead.

That said, it’s still totally doable to earn Command Points from PvP even for the casual player. What you want to do is target 575 points. I will tend to start the PvP event as early as possible, but then ignore it for at least the first day. Other players will duke it out for the top of the leaderboards, and then I can use their high scores as a leg up to get my progression rewards in as few matches as possible.

The timing somewhat varies depending on how busy my PvP bracket is. Usually by the last day, if I’m low on the leaderboard, winning a match will award me around 60 points towards progression. Then I only have to play 10-15 matches to get my CP reward!

Spending Command Points in Marvel Puzzle Quest

There’s only really a few ways to spend Command Points in Marvel Puzzle Quest. You can open a “Classic Legends” pack for 20, a “Latest Legends” pack for 25, or you can spend them to upgrade a 3-star or higher heroes’ cover level by 1.

Pro Tip Before you spend, consider stockpiling! Command Points never go bad, whereas if you pull an awesome 4- or 5-star cover and can’t make room for it within 2 weeks, you’ll lose it! If you’ve got a backlog of new characters to roster, consider just holding onto your CP for a while.

If you’re going for 4-star or 5-star covers, the “Classic Legends” pack is the way to go. Honestly, I always open Classic Legends. The Latest Legends pack is a sucker’s bet – it’s very likely to give you the same 4-star cover you’d get out of Classic, but it costs 5 points more. Yes, there are always going to be certain covers you can only get from Latest Legends, but if you’re patient, they’ll make their way down to Classic eventually. The only reason to open Latest Legends is if you’re hardcore into MPQ and have all but the very latest 5-star heroes.

The other option is to increase a 3-star or higher hero’s cover level by one. At 4 or 5-star prices, this is total insanity. Unless you just really really need one specific cover, it’s a total ripoff. Chances are good you will want/need multiple 4- or 5-star covers at the same time. Three star covers tend to be common enough that you’ll eventually get the one you need, so most of the time trading a guaranteed 4-star cover (that 20 CP could be a “Classic Legends” pull instead) for a specific 3-star cover is a bad deal.

Pro Tip There’s one instance where I will spend 20 Command Points to get a 3-star cover. If I’ve got a hero to 12 out of 13 covers, and I’ve got a spare cover I can’t use already (since they’re 5 in that color), I will consider using the 20 CP to max them out. Then I can turn them into a Champion, and use the spare cover I didn’t need before to level them up and get the Legendary Token. You’re basically spending 20 Command Points to get a 25 Command Point token, although if you had patience you’d eventually get it anyhow.

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Clash Royale Tips and Tricks MEGAGUIDE https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/clash-royale-tips-tricks-megaguide/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/clash-royale-tips-tricks-megaguide/#comments Sun, 12 Feb 2017 04:55:41 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8545
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Clash Royale is a game we could probably keep analyzing for 10 years, but it already feels like we’ve been writing articles about it for a decade. Here we’ve compiled a handy dandy cheat sheet to link you all our great tips, tricks, faqs, and guides. It’s a mega Clash Royale party, and you’re invited! If you have a Clash Royale question that isn’t answered here, leave a comment – we’d love to help!

Clash Royale Princess

Clash Royale Beginner’s Guides

Our beginner’s guides cover the basic things you should know when starting out in Clash Royale.

Clash Royale Chest

Clash Royale In-Depth Strategies & Calculators

Past the basics, Clash Royale has some pretty deep strategy and mechanics to understand. In these guides we focus on specific game modes or scenarios and dive deeper into what you need to know to win.

Clash Royale TIps

Clash Royale Tips and Tricks

Sometimes you aren’t looking to read an in-depth guide, and just want a few quick pointers. We’ve got you covered with these quick tips articles.

Clash Royale Emotes

Clash Royale FAQs and Urban Legends

With a game this deep, some common questions come up – and some rumors even rise to the level of urban legends. We break down the facts in these articles.

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5 Quick Clash Royale Clan Chest Tips https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/5-quick-clash-royale-clan-chest-tips/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/5-quick-clash-royale-clan-chest-tips/#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2017 22:59:07 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8547
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The introduction of the Clan Chest to Clash Royale has got to be one of my favorite additions to the game to date. It encourages different styles of play, and it makes working together in a Clan more meaningful. Filling the Chest is not a trivial task – but if you use the tips below you should be knocking them out in no time.

1. Clan Management

Running a clan is tough work no matter how you slice it, but the Clan Chest introduces a new element to consider when evaluating current members and recruits. Now more than ever, dead weight on your roster can really hurt you. If members become inactive, those that remain have to work that much harder to offset the lost Crown production. It takes 1600 Crowns to reach Chest Tier 10, and you have 3 days to do it. With an ideal Clan of 50 members, thats 32 Crowns per member, or an average of just a little more than 10 per day. That may not sound like much (and it isn’t really), but if your Clan is anything like mine there may be a decent number of members that can’t produce that many consistently. Worse yet, in bigger Clans you never know how many will just completely no-show.

Pro Tip When your Clan gets more than a few members, requests will start rolling in. When you are recruiting for maximum Clan Chest production, look for members that are in lower arenas with a decent 3 Crown win ratio. Players high in Jungle or Legendary are going to have a harder time producing Crowns, and likely will be less willing to drop trophies to increase output.

Pro Tip The best way to assess a members potential Clan Chest “value” is activity and past performance. The weekend is a good time to review both how much a member has donated over the week, and how many Crowns they contributed to the last Crown Chest. Remember that new members are only eligible for a Chest if they get in before the day it starts (so don’t go too hard on the new guy if he wasn’t eligible for the last chest). I recommend routinely kicking members who don’t show very low activity (<10 Crowns in the Clan Chest, <20 donates per week). If worse comes to worse, you can always invite them back later – and it will make the job of the active members that much easier.

2. The Easy Route

If you’ve played Clash of Clans then dropping trophies is no new thing to you, but if your a Day 1 Clash Royale player, it probably feels pretty scary to give up that ladder spot you’ve worked so hard for. Well, if you want to succeed at the Clan Chest you are going to have to learn to deal with it. High ladder matches in Legendary are a tooth-and-nail fight, and when you are playing near your personal high trophy limit, you are unlikely to have maximum Crown production. There isn’t a really good alternative to just dropping trophies (500 – 1000 minimum) to get to a range where you can more easily crank out 3 star wins. Is it kind? No. Is it fair? Absolutely not. Is it fun? Sometimes, but it can definitely get a bit tedious after a while.

Warning Before you drop any trophies, consider filling up your Chest slots. If you are pretty quick about dropping and rebounding back up you may not even miss out on any chests. What is far more important is that you don’t get a really rare chest in a very low arena (like I did). Keep in mind that when a Chest unlocks, you can leave it in the slot to block it. Missing out on a few Silver Chests is worth it to avoid the risk of a wasted rare Chest. Of course you can also use our Chest Calculator to check where you are in the cycle, and then you’ll know if you are at risk or not.

Pro Tip Set a reasonable target for what Arena you want to get to, and try to find something else fun to do while you are dropping trophies. You could read some of our other clash articles, and of course there is always Reddit. Remember that however many you lose (or nearly so) you’ll want to make back before the Chest is full – so try not to go to crazy and drop all the way to Goblin or anything. If you don’t make it all the way back to your typical Arena, your rewards from the Clan Chest will be less.

Pro Tip If you do find that your fellow clanmates filled the Chest before you could make it back to your usual arena, rumor has it that you can wait to open the Clan Chest till you get back to your ideal arena and still get the rewards for that arena. This would make it generally different than most other chests. I’ve yet to independently confirm this rumor, but when I do I’ll update this article.

3. The Secret Handshake

A protocol has emerged for signaling to your fellow Clashers that your King is into the “rough stuff”. Load up a deck with all offensive spells, and as soon as the game starts send direct damage the King Tower. Some opponents may be skeptical, especially if you only use Zap or Arrows, so I recommend going “all in” with a Rocket or Lightning, and in general just empty your hand of as much as you can throw until you are out of Elixir. If you are doing things right you should be able to lose a round in about 30-45 seconds. If you add in a little overhead for starting and ending rounds and round up to 1 minute, that means at 30 trophies/loss you can drop about 1000 trophies in 30-45 minutes. As you get into lower Arenas, your trophies per loss will go down, making it harder and harder to drop.

Warning There are definitely a lot of people out there thinking the same thing. If you go low enough, normally around Spell Valley, you’ll start to encounter a lot of like-minded individuals who will be resistant to letting you lose. Perhaps they also want to lose, or maybe they are just trolls. For this reason, it can be ideal to drop on Sunday night (the night before the Chest starts) to increase the likelihood you’ll encounter players who genuinely want to win. It is also a good idea to try and keep enough real cards in your deck that you can actually take down undefended towers, especially once the chest is in progress.

Pro Tip Mirror, Lix Pump, and Rage can be used to crank your Elixir production Sim City style for those drawn out battles. Pound for pound the Skeleton Horde is one of the fastest options for DPS as well, if you want to throw in a troop card. If you are doing something in another window, try and wait a second to see if your opponent is playing before you switch windows. It normally becomes apparent pretty quickly.

4. Deck for Success

Once you’ve reached an Arena level where you are 1-2 tower levels above the average competition, its time to transform from Santa Claus back into the Grinch. Pull out your most brutal noob slaying deck and prepare to lay waste. Cycle decks and in general any deck that has fast Tower KOs are what you shoot for – so Hog Rider, Elite Barbs, Lumberjack, Rage, Goblin Barrel, Skelly Horde, and Minion Horde are all great choices. Keep in mind that even if you lose occasionally, your next round is likely to be pretty easy so no big deal.

Pro Tip If you’ve never built a fast or beat down deck, you can check out statsroyale.com for the current top meta decks (see their “top lists” in the upper right corner). I recommend sorting on win % rather than average stars, because for the opponents you are facing 3 crowning really shouldn’t be an issue most of the time. Look for a fast deck that you have decent card levels for, and fire it up. Feel free to try out crazy decks too, because it will never be a better time.

Pro Tip If a loss seems imminent, go for a Tower if you think you can get it before a 2-1 or 3-2 loss. Shooting for a 2-1 or 3-1 loss is also a great way to hover in your “farming” Arena, until you are ready to start making the climb back to your regular home.

5. The Home Stretch

Keep a close eye on how many Crowns your Clan has left to fill the Clan Chest. With the current time windows, it is usually possible for an active clan to fill their Chest in about 2 days. Getting to level 7 or 8 is very quick, but since the Crown counts are lopsided, the last few levels take a little while. Make sure that several clan members continue to drop trophies and farm 3 Crowns until you know you’ve got level 10 in the bag. Our clan has missed it before, and there is nothing sadder than a partially filled Chest.

Pro Tip For a Level 11 King Tower and decently leveled cards, deep trophy drops (from say Legendary to Spell Valley in the current arena balance) can generate ~150 Crowns per day pretty easily. Once reaching Frozen Peak it becomes much more difficult so that ~50 Crown per day can be earned, slowing to a trickle in Legendary. Factor these rough estimates into where your members need to be in order to finish out your chest and fill that sucker up chief!

Want more Clash Royale Tips? Check out our other Clash Royale articles in the Clash Royale MEGAGUIDE!!

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LucidSound Drops the Bass at PAX South 2017 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/lucidsound-drops-bass-pax-south-2017/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/lucidsound-drops-bass-pax-south-2017/#respond Fri, 03 Feb 2017 02:37:10 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8521
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Here at Without the Sarcasm, we like to keep tabs on all the up-and-comers of the gaming hardware scene. On our latest trip to PAX South, we were invited to come check out a relatively new brand of gaming headsets that launched just last year. At the LucidSound booth, we met with CEO Chris Von Huben, who walked us through his company’s current lineup as well as their vision for the future of gaming headsets.

While LucidSound is relatively new, their team is no stranger to gaming audio. Chris actually founded Tritton, one of the oldest brands in gaming audio, which was acquired by Mad Catz in 2010. However, Chris felt that there were still new ideas to be explored in gaming headsets besides “angular plastic” and “RGB LEDs.” With a mission to advance the state of the art and style of gaming accessories, LucidSound was born.

LucidSound LS40

Chris gave us a run down of a number of unique features in LucidSound’s lineup that set them apart from other gaming headsets:

  • Amplified Audio – LucidSound’s headsets have a built-in amplifier and audio processing logic. This means that they’ve also got a built-in rechargeable battery to power it. Luckily, if the battery is dead, they can still be used in a passive mode just like standard headsets can.
  • Dual Mics – In addition to a high quality boom mic, LucidSound’s headsets have a built-in mic that operates even if the boom has been removed. Obviously, the quality is better on the boom mic, but for times when having one would be weird or awkward, the integrated mic can be used as a fallback.
  • Mic Monitoring – When wearing a headset that covers your ears, it can be difficult to both hear what’s going on around you and determine how loud you’re speaking. LucidSound has mixed their mic audio through the headset so you can avoid both of these issues.
  • “Lifestyle” Design – Instead of looking like something out of a cheesy 90’s sci-fi flick (like most gaming headsets still do), LucidSound headsets look like they belong in a more classy setting.
  • Simplified Controls – Many headsets, especially wireless ones, have weird buttons in awkward locations that make controlling them difficult. LucidSound’s headsets have a rotating ring on each ear cup to control volume (one for game and one for chat). A large, easy to reach central button inside each ring controls mute (one for mic and one for audio). Power and mode switching are also controlled via a single button. Simple, usable, and innovative.

We saw a total of three LucidSound headsets at PAX South 2017:

  • LS20 – The lowest end model is wired, and thus doesn’t support controlling chat volume independently of game volume. It still has the battery powered amplification features of its more expensive brethren, though. The LS20 is also currently the only “on ear” design in the line up.
  • LS30 – The first step up adds wireless for consoles and larger (50mm vs 40mm) drivers. The console interface is digital (optical) rather than analog (3.5mm)
  • LS40 – At the top of the food chain, this guy adds 7.1 surround sound (DTS:HeadphoneX) as well as custom ear cushions made from a combination of materials, designed for maximum comfort and breathability across long gaming sessions.

LucidSound LS30

At the con, we got a chance to try out the LS30 in a game audio session with Battlefield 1. The audio quality was quite good, although con floor noise can make it tough to get a clear picture of just how good a headset is. Chris also let us hook a pair of LS20’s into his phone, where he had some music queued up. Based on our quick impression, for an on ear headphone the sound quality was superb. The bass response was particularly impressive!

We hope to get our hands on a few pairs of these babies to put them through their paces and compare them to the other models we’ve reviewed – we’ll let you know our full impressions when we have them!

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