Pezant’s Picks : Ameliorating Alex’s Arena #1

“Helping my friend draft for arena as he was struggling to get past three wins (having recently started playing). Last deck we drafted went 5-3 which was a significant improvement.

You can see me going through the drafting process with him as well a advising on the first game in the video below.

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We’ll see how the run ends up going! Hopefully in future games the dogs will come out!

Update: He ended up going 8-3 with his deck which is a significant improvement!

For in depth advice on running the arena as a new player see my post here.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Counter Strike: Weapon Purchasing, Pickups and the Importance of Accuracy

“This next piece (previous post here) in my extended thoughts on mechanics in CS:GO is all about weapons. One of the most important facets of CS. A player armed with the correct weapon and a few carefully placed bullets can take down two or three other players (like the AWP for example) or even eliminate a much more talented player on the other team (with a Nova at close for example). These few paragraphs are my thoughts on the vital concepts of weapon management in CS:GO.

If you’re not careful about how you spend your hard earned dollars at the start of each round you can severely hamstring yourself in future rounds

Budgeting and planning weapon purchases: Somewhat surprisingly, Counterstrike is also a game about personal budget planning. I say this jokingly but it is quite true. If you’re not careful about how you spend your hard earned dollars at the start of each round you can severely hamstring yourself in future rounds. This is where the concept of  “”saving”” comes in. Sometimes you and your teammates may decide to spend sparingly one round and just hope for the best (with the expectation that the other team will come out quite well geared) so that in the next round you can match their current loadout (instead of attempting to meet them halfway and failing despite having spent all your money). Generally, you want to be able to purchase body armor and a helmet so that you’re not quite as fragile as well as a decent gun or better (guns worth purchasing typically start at about 2250$). If you’re really doing well you can add on grenades to give yourself an advantage in firefights or things like a defuse kit should you find yourself at a bomb with very little time remaining on it. This equilibrium is disturbed in the first round of each half where you start with pistols and a base $800 as well as any match point scenario (where you are on the verge of losing) or if your team decides that you must stem the bleeding and go for broke in the hopes that you can turn the tables on your opponents. This mechanic adds yet more weight to your decisions in game because you can blow the bank and fully equip yourself and then foolishly die without making an impact. This means you’ve lost money that you could have used to recover from that death and have potentially gifted a prized weapon to the enemy team (high value weapons like the AWP and SCAR-20 are particularly sought after. The AK is also strangely beloved despite it’s relatively low price point (at $2700)).

Weapon pickups: This leads into the mechanic of being able to pick up a fallen ally or enemy’s weapons and grenades. Though this mechanic may be present in other games, it is especially potent and relevant in Counterstrike due to the fact that one cannot simply equip a weapon. They must purchase it first! This leads to moments of great joy when you are sorely in need of an actual weapon and have but a pistol to your name and happen to come across a corpse of a fallen friend that is no longer in need of its M4A1-S or somehow slay a better-equipped foe and gleefully seize his weapon. However, it can also lead to moments of sadness of anger when your time comes to an unexpected end and your opponent proceeds to use your weapon to kill you for the next three rounds.

Weapon recoil and the value of accuracy over weapon spraying:In most shooters you run into the issue of running out of ammunition if you’ve managed to stay alive for a few minutes. Strangely I have yet to run into this issue while playing CS: GO. There have a few occasions where I’ve picked up someone else’s weapon with little to no ammo remaining in it but I have yet to run out of ammo on my own. There are several reasons for this: extended firefights tend to be quite rare in CS:GO because one of you is probably going to die by the time you’ve had two exchanges of weapon fire (due to the fragile nature of your character), firing an un-silenced weapon for a sustained duration in the same area is just asking to get killed by someone flanking you or sneaking up from behind and, finally and most importantly, accuracy is highly valuable in Counterstrike due to the fact that you can instantly kill someone with a well placed shot when using many weapons but that accuracy is completely eliminated if you fire more then a few shots in a row with most weapons. The effect of weapon recoil on weapon accuracy leads to an interesting dynamic where it is better to attempt to carefully place your shots instead of spraying wildly when you see an enemy. The effect is so significant that you can pick off someone rushing towards you and firing full force if you calmly place a few shots into them as their bullets spray all around you. Initially this can be quite frustrating as you somehow manage to miss with every one of your twenty shots that you fired at point blank range but it starts to make more sense as you consider the dynamics of weapon recoil and how much depth it adds to the game. Accuracy is so important that many times you are better off stopping momentarily to improve your weapon accuracy and making yourself a more stationary target in the hopes that it will allow you to place those few necessary shots before your opponent can.

Accuracy is so important that many times you are better off stopping momentarily to improve your weapon accuracy and making yourself a more stationary target in the hopes that it will allow you to place those few necessary shots before your opponent can.

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That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Spring is Here!: Patch 6.81 Release and Brief Thoughts

“Its a good day! Another set of patch notes has been released to the masses and its contents are quite interesting. Most universally accepted and adored are the multitude of bug fixes and quality of life improvements, many of which have been discussed over the past few months as areas for improvement. After that come the cavalcade of hero changes with many minor (and some major) buffs for underutilized heroes and a few slight nerfs for those who are a bit too powerful. Finally, we have a few well placed item tweaks and surprisingly, no nerf to Blink Dagger (Blink Dagga Dagga lovas rejoice!). It has certainly sparked a great deal of discussion with 1711 comments on wykrhm’s post as of the writing of this post.

Bug Fixes and Quality of Life Improvements

Let’s start with the bug fixes and quality of life improvements. Most notable amongst these are the correction of abilities being heard through fog of war (there are only a select few that should be heard through the fog), the ability to switch your minimap to the right side of the screen (and avoid clicking somewhere random as you flee back to Radiant base), a slew of improvements for item purchasing, updating of default item builds for heroes (no more Battlefury Bounty Hunter!), Power Cogs does not hit you as many times as it pleases as you attempt to flee, no more Divided to Stand in Ability Draft (too broken), and attack speed continually adjusting (instead of needing to be reset because of a heavy attack speed slow carrying over into the next attack).

Hero Changes

Notable/Interesting Changes

  • Abaddon: Ult with Agh’s now absorbs 35% of damage to allies (if within 900 radius).
  • Bloodseeker: Improved cast point on Bloodrage makes cast near instantaneous (0.6 to 0.4).
  • Brewmaster: Now has a Jinada-like quality to Drunken Brawler with guaranteed crit/evade if no attack/attacked for 10 seconds.
  • Broodmother: Brood’s bullshit free pathing is back with it now being disabled by damage (same rules as blink dagger).
  • Dazzle: A slight nerf to Dazzle with no ministun at the beginning of Poison Touch (no instant channel interrupt).
  • Ember Spirit: Made a little less silly by reducing the strength of his early game (Searing Chains duration reduced to 1/2/2/3 from 2/2/3/3 and SoF from 30/60/90/120 to 20/40/60/80). Good change in my opinion, he had a bit too much power early on. Can still benefit from getting items to boost power of SoF.
  • Gyrocopter: Rocket now hits invisible units (no more Shadow Walking and running back into the rocket, :'( ).
  • Huskar: Spears are no longer a UAM. Incoming Skadi/Satanic/Burning Spears Huskar. Ouch!
  • Invoker: Nerf to EMP with delay increased to 2.9 (gives just enough time to escape after a tornado for example).
  • Jakiro: Got a few buffs. The most interesting being his increased Macropyre duration and range with scepter (7 to 14 and 1350 to 1800).
  • KotL: Becomes perma ghost man with Agh’s upgrade AND during the day heals allies for 75% of Illuminate wave damage AND gains unobstructed vision. Seems a bit too powerful to me. But I suppose we’ll see.
  • Kunkka: X marks the spot now lasts twice as long allies (X + TP and X back to spot tricks now possible).
  • Legion Commander: Overwhleming Odds buffed significantly and Psuedo Random Chance brought in for Moment of Courage (another suggestion on Reddit).
  • Lich: Can now buff buildings with Frost Armor and Agh’s upgrade gives ultimate unlimited bounces.
  • Lina: Lina’s ult now goes through Magic Immunity with Agh’s upgrade (giving you a reason to pick her over Lion and ever get Agh’s in the first place.
  • Luna: Base agility down to 18 from 22. A pretty rough nerf to Luna’s laning phase. This one makes me sad but it’s a fair nerf.
  • Medusa: Mystic Snake continues to bounce despite fog, arrows now do 80% damage with # of targets scaling (2/3/4/5) and magic shield absorption increased a ton early on (1/1.5/2/2.5 to 1.6/1.9/2.2/2.5) making her much less squishy and more dangerous during the laning phase.
  • Mirana: Arrow vision reduced by 150 to 650. Slight nerf for the ever popular Mirana. Not enough to discourage people from picking her though.
  • Necrophos: Ult now adds 30% duration to respawn timer. This makes Necro a scary force in the late game, especially if the enemy hero had bought back (135 seconds * 1.3 = 175.5. An extra 40 seconds, oof!).
  • Ogre Magi: The most skilled of heroes has received yet more armor and tankiness (Base armor +1) and improved cast time (0.56 to 0.45). I love playing this guy. Maybe I’ll have more occasion to do so now!
  • Omniknight: Repel no longer removes buffs from allies. Dish out that magic immunity without fear! Guardian Angel duration also increased. These are sweet changes but I still don’t think we’ll be seeing Omni in pro games very often.
  • Phantom Assassin: 25% percent reduction in cooldown for Stifling Dagger so enjoy even more crit daggers to the phase as a poor support laning against her (probably won’t see her in pro games though).
  • Razor: Strength gain increased from 1.7 to 2.3 and Unstable Current slow duration increased significantly (.4/.8/1.2/1.6 to .5/1/1.5/12). Now Razor will be even more tanky and annoying to take down. Nice changes to make him more than a counterpick mid though!
  • Shadow Demon: Agh’s upgrade gives him two charges of ult that recharge on a 40 second timer. Unlikely he will be able to afford an Agh’s in most games but would give him quite a powerful influence in team fights were he able to reach that point.
  • Silencer: Agi growth from 2.1 to 3 and Curse of the Silent cooldown reduced from 20/18/16/14 to 20/16/12/8 making him more relevant in late game fights as he will be able to throw down those curses like it’s nobody’s business.
  • Spirit Breaker: Nether Strike Cast range now a constant 700 and 850 with Agh’s.
  • Terrorblade: Strength gain reduced to a paltry 1.4 (from 1.9 that’s a 26% reduction, ouch!) and reflection dropped from a flat 5 to scaling 2.5/3.5/4.5/5.5 making him significantly less powerful.
  • Tusk: Snowball can now be prepped and then launched within the next four seconds (Prepare the snowball cannon!). The area that pulls allies in has been reduced and you can selectively load in allies within 400 range as well. The snowball moves 75 MS faster for each hero in it and also does 20/30/40/50 for each hero in it. This is a pretty huge change and will make Tusk a lot less of a liability and give Snowball the potential to be a powerful initiation tool.
  • Undying: Can no longer feed off of zombies for exp/gold. Zombies trigger Deathlust at 20/25/30/35 instead of 5/10/15/20 and the bounty has been increased to meet the improved efficacy of the tombstone. Nice buff for Undying.
  • Ursa: Fury swipes are no longer a Unique Attack Modifier opening up a whole can of potential builds for this angry bear. Him and Huskar will be significantly more frightening now that they have been released from their UAM chains.
  • Vengeful Spirit: If Venge dies her killer carries a negative version of her Vengeance Aura until she revives. Really cool change. Makes for an interesting lore dynamic as well, :).
  • Visage: Early game effectiveness reduced with Grave Chill cooldown increased to 16/14/12/10 from a flat 10.
  • Windranger: No more pesky, pre-Windrun airborne projectiles killing you and Aghanim’s now reduces Focus Fire damage from -50/-40/-30  to -30/-15/0. No more special rules for procs either. Let the Windranger run free!
  • Zeus: This is one of my favourite changes. Lightning Bolt had True Sight and Flying Vision reduced to 750 but can now be cast on the ground and hits the closest nearby hero within 250 range. But! It also means that you can run around casting Lightning Bolt and dewarding at a whim (if I understand correctly). This change makes my beloved Zeus even more useful!

Item Changes

Notable Changes

  • Clarity: 100 regen over 30 seconds to 135 regen over 40 seconds so 3.375/second as compared to 3.333 but 35% more overall
  • Mjlollnir: Damage was reduced from 160 to 150 but the proc’s interaction with itself was fixed. Static charge now procs from the person it is cast on and not the attacker (depends on situation as to whether this is good or bad, but a slight nerf overall as teammates are more likely to be near to each other than to the one person being attacked).
  • Observer and Sentry wards: Ctrl+Click now required to share and can no longer be dropped in fountain. Thank god.
  • Scythe of Vyse: Hexed units now have move speed of 140 up from 100 (so 40% increase) quite significant! Makes Hex a little less of a ultra powerful disable (but not by much).
  • Necronomicon: Units now move at flat 350 instead of 330/360/390 range (level three less powerful) and the XP bounty has increased dramatically (base 59 to 100/150/200).
  • Manta Style: Now resets targeting (as it does in DotA 1 and was a suggested parity change on Reddit a little while back). Slight buff as it increases the value of Manta Style as a tool for deflecting attention.
  • Eul’s Scepter: Huge buff for using Eul’s against enemy heroes with Blink. Now they can no longer use your cyclone as a opportunity to count those 3 seconds down. You can also cast on yourself if you are BKBed (another buff, albeit a slight one).

All in all, another excellent set of changes. Unlike patch 6.80 there are a few potentially worryingly powerful buffs that were made (I’m looking at you KotL) but I’m sure things will settle without too much chaos. Some great targeting of heroes that have grown too popular and strong in the current meta (Dazzle, Invoker, Mirana, Visage, etc.) without completely destroying them as potential choices as well as buffs for those heroes that are not as widely appreciated (Tusk, Huskar, etc.). The item changes were also reasonable and well thought out. I really appreciate this style of balancing the game. Hopefully it leads to me seeing me less of that icy bastard AA and more of my beloved Zeus, :).

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Check out post patch release shenanigans for some interesting theory-crafting regarding our good friend Lich and his added Agh’s effect.

Yes, you can stack as many chain frosts on the Ancients as you like and yes it will insta-gib whoever on the enemy team comes by. And yes, it will probably be fixed before the patch is released. Warning: The video is really loud so turn down your volume first and save your hearing.

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Huskar’s scaling magic resistance proved to not be limitless.

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Cooperation across teams yields yet more giggle-inducing possibilities.

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Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Blink Dagger: The Cure-All Mobility Granter

“Blink Dagger, or as I like to refer to it affectionately, Blink Dagga Dagga!, has always been a favourite of mine. There are few items that are so versatile and widely applicable to such a range of heroes. Granted there are some heroes who are not lacking in terms of initiation, escape or general mobility but the vast majority of them would spring at the chance to have the opportunity to blink 1200 distance at a moment’s notice (if they haven’t received any self or enemy hero damage in the past three seconds).

[T]he vast majority of [heroes] would spring at the chance to have the opportunity to blink 1200 distance at a moment’s notice

Blink Dagger’s changes from all the way back when it used to be called Kalen’s Dagger of Escape

So,what’s stopping you from getting a blink dagger? Well, until recently (that is January 27, 2014 – the release of patch 6.80), the 75 mana cost was a significant obstacle for heroes with limited mana pools. This meant that for heroes like Earthshaker or Axe or Tidehunter, blinking and slammin’ was an exercise in careful calculation as if you didn’t employ enough caution you would find yourself without the mana to be able to follow up with the slammin’ portion of the whole affair. The 75 mana cost was also a potential showstopper for heroes with high cost spells and expensive combos, say, Shadow Shaman for example. But now that the manacost has been removed, blink dagger is a more viable option for a wider range of heroes and an appropriate choice at earlier stages of the game.

As you can see, I’m quite fond of instantaneous teleportation when playing supports. This way I can avoid being food for the enemy team to snack on once we’ve passed 30 minutes.

Now that the manacost has been removed the main limitations for blink dagger are its significant upfront cost (as it can be difficult to save up that 2150 gold without dying), space limitations for heroes (rendering it less effective for heroes that have more farm and fill out their slots quicker) and, as always, competing priorities for your gold (getting more HP, buying wards and other utility items, teleportation scrolls, damage items, etc.). However, despite the fact that these barriers still remain I have been seeing a whole lot more blink dagger play in my ranked matches as people have been realizing the huge value and opportunity that blink dagger provides. Before, I got blink dagger because I liked being able to initiate and escape and extending my heroes effectiveness by applying my skill but now it is nearly a no-brainer for many heroes because of the possibilities that a total lack of a mana cost open up. Additionally, with more heroes on a team getting blink dagger the possibilities multiply as they are able to coordinate together and suddenly 3/5 players on the team have excellent initiation potential.

These guys are pleased with the blink dagger changes

Have you been EMPed down to 0 (or near 0) mana by that pesky Invoker? Juke and blink away. Are you preparing to unleash your devastating combo with your newly acquired Blink Dagga Dagga? Have no worry, you need only account for the mana cost of your abilities. Are you a lowly support who’s decided to take the chance and go Blink Dagger before boots? Rejoice in the fact that the elimination of the 75 mana cost means that you are no longer neutered by losing a fifth or fourth of your mana pool before even doing anything. Did you throw everything at the enemy team and are now making a hasty retreat? Well, good news. now you can blast all of your skills off and still crank out a TP after juking with a sneaky blink off to the side. I’m sure you get the point by now. Blink is really good and now it’s been made easier to use and ever more relevant.

Blink is really good and now it’s been made easier to use and ever more relevant.

We’ll see if this change stands the test of time or if it gets tweaked slightly (some people have been suggested the retention of a reduced mana cost at 25 or 50 mana). In the mean time, I’m going to continue blinking and slammin’ without a care in the world (except for the new problem of everyone on the other team having a blink dagger as well, a potential threat to the strategic complexity of the game) and welcoming converts to the Cult of Mobility.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Sometimes There Can be Too Much Minimalism: Bringing Back Your Extension Buttons in Chrome

“Have you ended up in the tragic position where Chrome has decided to eliminate all your extension buttons and left you with a clean, minimalist look? I too was in the same position just a few days ago and couldn’t quite remember how to exit that state and get my beloved cluttered buttons back. However, I have come with good news! The solution is simple and easy. It’s just a question of knowing how to go about accessing it. No, it’s not in any of the menus. No, there isn’t a checkbox you can check to protect your buttons. All you have to do is move your move over the edge of the address bar until a slider shows up and then slide it back over to the left however much you would like. That’s it. It’s not entirely intuitive but certainly accessible and simple. Now, if only I could figure out how to get it to stop hiding them away in the first place…

All you have to do is move your move over the edge of the address bar until a slider shows up and then slide it back over to the left however much you would like.

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That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Chrome Remote Desktop: Thoughts and my Troubleshooting to get it Installed

“Yesterday, Google released Chrome Remote Desktop giving Android users another option with which to access their desktops from an Android device (CRD also gives computers running the Chrome browser another remote desktop/assistance solution). It’s a pretty neat solution. All you need to do is add it into Chrome and add the app on your Android device (or in Chrome on your accompanying computer if you’re doing computer to computer). After that, you choose a PIN and tell it to set up Remote Desktop on your computer.

Unfortunately, CRD lacks some of the features of other programs like Splashtop (which I wrote about here); For example, if you are connecting from your tablet, you are limited to manipulating your screen by dragging the cursor around and then clicking to click where the cursor is selected (so you can’t simply click on what you would like to click on) and it doesn’t play sound from your computer or allow you to only select one monitor if you have multiple monitors running. But it makes up for that in the fact that it is free no matter what and pretty simple to set up.

This is what your setup process should look like.

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I was getting an error message from Chrome Remote Desktop after I’d added it to my Chrome browser that it “”Failed to start remote access service”” after typing my PIN for it to use. I was able to solve this issue based on a suggestion from the Google Product Forums from Billy Zimmerman to download the Chrome Remote Desktop Host and name the file chromeremotedesktophost-27.0.1453.65 before running it. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and run the file. Then try getting CRD to set up a remote connection again. I was able to connect again! You can also try whitelisting the executable in your firewall ,running Chrome as administrator or Changing Google Update Service properties to Automatic (see Justin West’s post on that here) if you’re still having difficulties.

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That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Will Hearthstone Ever Be Released on Android?: Setting up Splashtop and Using It as a Temporary Stopgap

As many of you surely know, Hearthstone was recently released on iPad but it isn’t scheduled to be released on Android or iPhone until the middle of the year or so (not to mention the various other platforms that it will likely never be released for). It seemed quite pleasant to be able to play Hearthstone on my Nexus 7 so I took the suggestion of Dills from The Angry Chicken (an excellent Hearthstone podcast) and looked into Splashtop as a way of accessing my PC from my tablet (and therefore being able to play Hearthstone from the comfort of my bed or couch).

Get Splashtop Personal for your PC (Windows, Linux, Mac) and mobile device (Windows Phone, iOS, Android, etc.) here.

Get Hearthstone here. If you want an introductory article on strategies for arena in Hearthstone, go here.

Update: As per Niedar’s comment on Reddit, Google just released Chrome Remote Desktop (another remote desktop solution) which I wrote about here. It works pretty well but you have to drag first to move your cursor around and then click, there is no sound carried over from your computer (no US Netflixin’ or Pandora-ing through your tablet like with Splashtop) and there are far fewer options (just shows all your monitors, no fancy touch configuration.). So as it stands, I would still recommend using Splashtop but maybe use CRD to avoid paying for the ability to connect outside of your network.

Splashtop was the ideal solution. As long as the devices I was using were on the same network I was able to connect to my PC for free. Of course, If I wanted to access them remotely I would have to pay a monthly fee to use that service, but that was of no concern to me since I was planning on just using it in my home. Unfortunately, the first time I tried this about a month and a half ago I was repeatedly stumped by the dreaded satellite icon (indicating that Splashtop believed I was trying to connect across networks) despite both devices being right by the router and in the exact same room. I tried jumping through various hoops including adding TCP ports 6873-6875 in my Windows firewall for the streamer to push data through, attempting to add those same ports on the port forwards on my router, and installing and re-installing the program. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t worth it and gave up for the time being.

With the release of Hearthstone on iPad I was prompted to revisit the issue and decided to give it a second go. After hours of searching and reading through countless forum threads with angry people expressing their frustrations regarding Splashtop (these kinds of difficult issues are bound to occur given the complexity of the software) I was finally able to forge a solution that worked for me. About two hours into my troubleshooting I decided to give turning off my Windows Firewall a try and magically I was able to connect my tablet to my PC through Splashtop! So, with this new information I knew that there was something going on with the firewall.

I spent hours adding obscure firewall rules, trying and retrying to set up the ports suggested, changing the ports and trying those, adding every executable in the Splashtop program file and installing 4 different versions of the software in the hopes that an older version might be more friendly to my current situation. It all amounted to nothing. That is, until I reflected on the firewall being my cause of my issues. If the firewall was somehow blocking the communication despite all my efforts… What if I replaced the firewall with something that I could manipulate more intuitively?

After some searching I came across Tinywall and installed it with fingers crossed. After setting it all up. Magically it worked! I was able to connect and the horrible saga was over. All I had to do was run it through the typical setup:

  • Put it in autolearn mode to detect what traffic it should be letting through.
  • Set it back to normal mode.
  • However, do be careful to make sure that you don’t have anything malicious residing on your system though or else it will be able to bypass your newly acquired firewall rendering it meaningless.
  • Whitelist Splashtop specifically using the whitelist by window option to be extra certain that it’s will be let through appropriately.
  • You may also have to whitelist the other Splashtop executables as well if it you run into any difficulties (SRFeature and SRService).

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Ah~, the sweet taste of success!

Now I’m happily playing Hearthstone on my tablet, streaming Netflix and Pandora and equipped with the means to access my computer remotely (should I choose to set it up to connect from externally). Tinywall is pleasant and allows me to avoid working with Windows Firewall which I find to be annoyingly cumbersome to modify anything in (which I became especially familiar with while adding 16 different executables to the whitelist).Overall, pleased that everything has worked out and excited to share my solution with everyone!

Check out the content below for additional information that may be of help to you if you’re still struggling or want to try a different approach.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

I included the steps for setting up TCP ports 6873-6875 as Splashtop suggests in case you’d like to try that first. Maybe it’ll work for you!

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For more information on Tinywall, see Jim Hillier’s post about it here.

If you’re still having issues. This forum topic may be of help to you. It seemed to be the most useful amalgamation of fixes that I found throughout my searching (it may not have solved my problem, but at least it was heartening).

If you would like to use Splashtop from outside your home here is a guide from Splashtop to set it up using a Linksys router (the process is the same for other routers, the port forward and login pages just look different).

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).

A Quality Voice Communication Experience: Axon

Update Axon has been dead for some time now but I recommend Discord if you’re looking for a voice chat solution!

“Gaming is so much about communicating and the social aspect of sharing experiences with your friends so voice communication is paramount. I’ve been playing games for years now and have been through a multitude of different voice communication services. My first experience was with Ventrilo (still a popular option), then Teamspeak and Mumble, Skype for a very long time (for chatting with my friends while playing with them on a regular basis) but now, after so many years, I’ve settled on Axon. I wanted to write a short post about using Axon because I feel that it is far superior to the other other alternatives that are available and it’s still relatively unknown despite how well-made and maintained it is.

Advantages of Axon

  • 100% Free

There are no paid features in Axon. Everything you would want to use is there available for the taking. Because of this, there is no gating of features or gradual degradation of core services to encourage transition to premium services (I’m looking at you Skype!).

  • Simplicity

As you can see by the interface above. It’s quite simple. You make an account sign in and go to the users menu to add people to your friend’s list. Once you’ve done that you can invite them to one on one chats or create a permanent chat and invite them to that instead. There are no ports to copy in or passwords to remember/change. You can also set it to auto login/start up automatically when your computer starts up.

  • Permanent Rooms

What I consider to be one of the best features of Axon (in combination with the grid system and directional sound). Permanent rooms are amazing. Gone are the days of having to forge a chat together every time you want to play with your friends and are coordinating over Skype. Permanent chats remember where you were positioned in them last, can support an ungodly amount of people, have a running text chat that is held on server and allow you to promote other people so that they can add people to the chat as well.

  • Grids

The grid system used in the permanent chat (as seen above) allows you to seamlessly hold up to 4 different conversations in the same permanent chat without having to create another room. These grids are quite useful when you’re holding a scrim and are sharing the same room or someone is going to be AFK for a while (so they drop into another section) or if your friends happen to be multiple different games but still want to be able to keep in touch with each other easily (by dropping by in the other section and saying a quick hello!).

  • Directional Audio

Another incredible feature included in Axon, and perhaps it’s strongest point of differentiation. Because of the programming behind Axon it uses surround sound (hence the connection to Dolby) when you and your friends are speaking. This means that a chat room is more like a room where you and your friends are sitting all throughout the room. It means that more than one person can be speaking at once and it is actually possible to differentiate voices beyond simple volume levels. You can also choose to orient yourself towards whoever you are anticipating you will be communicating with more often to help further augment your ability to communicate.

  • Ability to Nudge

If you’re in a chat and you want the attention of your friend you can nudge them (as shown below) and a notification will pop up in the top right corner of their screen letting them know that their attention has been requested in whichever chat you nudged them from. This is an easy way to get someone to come join you in a chat channel and is the equivalent of poking someone on the shoulder to get their attention.

  • Selective Muting

If you happen to have friends with awful mics, who can be incredibly annoying at times then, or are playing in the same room as someone else but on voice chat with others then you will surely take joy in being able to use this feature. As you can see below, you can right click the users in the chat and selectively mute a person. This allows you to control your audio input without having to ask someone to shut up or figure out some sort of elaborate arrangement with the person who is playing next to you so that you don’t have to hear them twice.

  • No hosting/Lower upload speed usage

Because all communications are hosted by the Axon servers you don’t have to worry about additional upload requirements that can be taxing for those of us with pathetic upload speeds. There are few things more tragic than having to choose between voice chat with your friends are constantly lagging in game. No more negotiations and maneuvering as to who will be hosting the Skype call (and bearing the additional upload burden)!

  • Excellent voice activation (no need for push to talk)

Again, a feature that I am incredibly grateful for. As someone who hates to use push to talk, Axon’s excellent voice detection has served as a dependable alternative to push to talk without any of the complaints about mic spam that usually come with using anything other than push to talk. Yes! You can even breathe while you use voice activation. Funny the thought that it only picks up significant sounds and actual speech. The people at Axon figured something out that seems to be too difficult for others to sort out as well. I am aware that you can adjust sensitivity and the like in other programs to find your sweet spot but I’m just grateful for the ease of use that Axon offers. No tinkering required.

Disadvantages of Axon

  • Creating an account and getting your friends to use it

Yes, this is the biggest roadblock to being a happy user of Axon and that is making an account and then convincing your friends to give it a go and let go of the other programs that they are so familiar with. Perhaps this article can help you in persuading them to change their mind!

  • Weak individual text chat

If you aren’t holding a chat in a permanent chat and have invited a single person to a personal text chat then you will end up losing your chat history from before when you’ve closed that window. This makes it a sad replacement in that regard for something like Skype (though I suppose you could create permanent chats on an individual level). However, the top voted post on the feedback forums for Axon is in regards to changing the way that works and making the feature more useful. That’s another thing, they actively solicit feedback and respond to posts in the forums. It’s nice to see a team that genuinely wants to hear from its users and seek to improve the service.

I know for sure that Axon has made a huge difference for me because when my team was playing at GottaCon for the DotA 2 tournament we ended up installing Axon on the computers there because Teamspeak just wouldn’t cut it. Even with the added latency of having to use a service that wasn’t running on the LAN there it was still much preferable with having to deal with the lack of directional audio, crappy voice activation and no option to selectively mute members (one of our teammates was particularly close to a speaker and had a sensitive mic).

Hopefully this post convinces you to try Axon. You and your friends will certainly benefit from adopting it as your voice communication service of choice. Let me know if you happen to know of an option that is even better!

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).

Being Honest with Oneself: A Long Term Winning Strategy

We’ll all been in that game where every possible thing goes wrong. Your teammates are complete idiots, each close cut scenario goes in favour of your enemy instead of yourself, you can’t catch a lucky break even just to stem the bleeding and all hope is lost. When you’re consumed by anger and disappointment its easy to dismiss everything that has just happened and attribute it to the flailing, keyboard-smashing imbeciles on your team and having skipped your regular ritual sacrifice to Lady Luck. But! Though, this may be a easy, and immediately cathartic, path to pursue it is not the most beneficial one to undertake for yourself.

However tempting it may be to blame your failure on … any number of other factors that may have contributed to your untimely demise try your best not to. Instead, consider what YOU could have done better.

However tempting it may be to blame your failure on a lack of luck, the incompetency of your teammates, the enemy’s unfair tactics or any number of other factors that may have contributed to your untimely demise try your best not to. Instead, consider what YOU could have done better.

Yes, we know. Teammates, lag, bad luck, game unfair, hero broken, gun overpowered, whatever. But outside of all of that, how could you have improved how you impacted the game?

 There’s always something you can improve on. So, take the opportunity to continuously better yourself.

For example, when I play DotA I’ve become quite good at dominating my lane as a mid hero or farming effectively as a carry. But, despite that, there are still games where my team and I fail to secure the game. So, if I was successful at doing what I was supposed to be doing but what could I have done better? As a carry, maybe I should have TPed in for a few more team fights where I could have swung it and picked up some kills as well or gone for a more optimal item progression. As a mid, I wrecked my opponent but I could have more diligent calling out misses, runes picked up, or ganking other lanes. There’s always something you can improve on. So, take the opportunity to continuously better yourself. Whether you’re winning or losing. Whether you feel that your fate is out of your hands or if you’ve done absolutely all you can. Reflect on what you’ve done, and what you could have done better.

Assigning blame is a simple task. Being intelligent and thoughtful enough to consider where you could have done better in any situation is much more difficult. But, in the long run, you will reap the rewards of the extra effort and thought you’ve put into your play. I’ve even seen it amongst my friends that I play with. With a remarkable difference between those who are willing to accept that they’ve made mistakes and reflect on what they could have done better and those who prefer to ascribe their failures to everyone around them.

Coming up soon. Thoughts on dealing with problematic teammates and ways to turn around, or at least mitigate, their impact.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

FTL: The Advanced Edition Experience

“I absolutely loved FTL and played 45+ hours of it upon its initial release. It is a beautiful game that manages to capture the elusive feeling of exploration, the wonder of discovery, the weightiness of decision making and the delicate balance between success and failure whilst out in the great, dark, endless unknown that is space. FTL: Advanced Edition has managed to build on this wonderful game without comprising the formula that made it so irresistible and unique.

Quality of life improvements like the ability to save your crewmembers’ positions and send them back to them with the click of a button make the game simpler and less tedious without reducing the quality of the gameplay. New mechanics like hacking drones (which had a definite affection for my oxygen systems) as well as new ships and races add some extra variety to the experience that those who are fond of FTL are so familiar with. I’ve only done one playthrough so far but I’ll definitely be coming back for more runthroughs. FTL has once again captured my imagination. My hat is off to the devs. An excellent expansion of a great game.

See my playthrough that I’ve linked to if you’re interested in seeing my initial reaction to the changes and the various discoveries I made during my playthrough.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

MediaHint’s Unwelcome Update And An Alternative Extension: ProxMate

“I’ve been using MediaHint to be able to access US Netflix and Pandora happily for the past year or so but recently they released an update that asked for some troubling new permissions. After doing some searching regarding the new update and hearing about how the new update required the creation of an account and included paid options (not sure for what, but I didn’t want to go anywhere near that) I immediately searched for a replacement.

In my quest for a suitable alternative I fell upon a helpful Lifehacker article that offered up Proxmate as a potential alternative to, the now less desirable, Mediahint.

I am pleased to report that Proxmate has proved to be a full and complete replacement for Mediahint and there are no requests for information exceeding what is required for the operation of the extension. It is installed in the fashion that Mediahint was before it’s inclusion in the app store (download the .crx extension file, drag it manually into the extensions pane to install) and is simple, clean and effective. I fully recommend Proxmate if you’re looking into an alternative for Mediahint.

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

A quick note: As pointed out by Beakersful and snazzgasm on Reddit. Access to the services on the right (under extra goodies) requires payment of at least 3 euro in donation in order to receive a donation key which can be used to unlock extra functionality. Unfortunately this donation key expires after 31 days so it’s basically a monthly fee.

EDIT: You can grab the old version of Proxmate here. For those of you having issues with the current version. Hola Better Internet also gives you a lot of good options with regards to escaping region locks (and isn’t constrained to the US).

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Trials of the Arena: Making the Most of your 150 Gold Spent

New to Hearthstone? Get it here.

For players new to Hearthstone, the arena is a tempting, and intimidating proposition. For 150 gold you have the chance to pick 30 cards (from a random slate of 3 at a time) and get as far as you can before you fall three times. The further you make it, the greater your awards are.

The arena is a even playing field upon which you are finally able to prove your intelligence, capacity for strategic decision making and your ability to vanquish foes who might have otherwise defeated you in ranked play with hands laden full of legendaries.

The arena is a even playing field upon which you are finally able to prove your intelligence, capacity for strategic decision making and your ability to vanquish foes who might have otherwise defeated you in ranked play with hands laden full of legendaries. This is all sounds wonderful. But, is it really so easy to enter the arena and come out ahead of where you started? Bear in mind that the cost of a single card pack is 100 gold and you only start to break even at around three or four wins (with the combined value of the guaranteed pack with entry + any additional rewards). With those ominous thoughts forming a dark cloud above our heads let us reflect on how to best extract maximum value from our participation in this zero sum game.

Practice First

Build yourself an arena bank and start doing runs once you’re more likely to be successful!

Especially when you’re just starting the game, try and get a feel for the different classes, potential cards to played, good trades and synergies and general strategy and game knowledge. Though you may be able to scrape out 2 or 3 wins in your initial arena runs it would be better to hold for a while and wait until you’re on a more solid foundation before jumping into that inferno. Build yourself an arena bank and start doing runs once you’re more likely to be successful!

Quick tip: If you have any quests that are 40 gold then you should try abandoning them first (by clicking the red “”X”” on the corner of the quest box in the quest log) to give yourself at getting a 60 or 100 gold quest. If you’re looking to raise funds for arena, quests are far your best option for that and you wouldn’t want to squander a potential 20 or 60 extra gold! Don’t abandon anything higher than 40 though, as chances are you will receive an equivalent or lower value quest (the 100 gold quests are very rare).

Pick Wisely

 If one card is just better overall than one with synergy it makes sense to go for the overall value play. Remember, there’s no guarantee those cards will line up nicely in your hand!

Although it may be tempting to go for fancy combinations/strategies when you’re drafting your arena deck it’s better to draft cards that are more reliable and generally useful. This is because there is no guarantee that the clincher card/cards you’ll need to make your earlier pick effective rather than subpar will show up when you need them. What you can do is build on the cards you chose previously and look to make for effective synergies with your future picks. For example, if you choose the Gadgetzan Auctioneer because you have a few spells you’d be able to play in combination with him (thus taking advantage of the card draw upon spell cast provided) that would make spells available further more valuable because of their potential to synergize. Nevertheless, try not to get too carried with building on one card or a set of cards. If one card is just better overall than one with synergy it makes sense to go for the overall value play. Remember, there’s no guarantee those cards will line up nicely in your hand!

For more guidance on drafting see Liquidheart for excellent arena tier lists written by Trump (a well known, and quite talented, Hearthstone streamer).

Keep Track of Your Deck

Arena is a completely different from ranked play where you would have carefully deliberated over which cards to include in your deck and are likely at least somewhat familiar with what’s waiting beyond your current hand. In arena, you’ve just drafted 30 cards that you sought to combine together in an effective manner, but you’re likely not able to recall what’s available to you easily. So, what I like to do is take some quick printscreens of my arena deck which I can then reference should I be at loss with regards to what options are available to me (during the mulligan stage or just for planning considerations). Remember to take two shots if you happen to have enough cards to the point to where you need to scroll down!

Try and Suss Out Your Opponent’s Strategy

Because of the somewhat random nature of arena it can be difficult trying to guess what your opponent will be doing. But you can look for tells to help you in figuring out what his gameplan will likely be. Things like whether he/she is not playing a lot of cards early would let you know that either they have a late-game oriented deck or are more combo-oriented (like the Unleash the Hounds Hunter playstyle). If they’re playing out a bunch of cards early you can posit that they are set on taking you out early on and try your best the stem the bleeding. Do be careful with not taking this too far though. Given that they also had to select from a slate of 3 random cards at a time it doesn’t make sense to expect the elaborate combinations you see on the ladder. Just settle with the fact that you’ll be able to guide your decisions that little bit better.

Embrace the Unpredictability

If you make unpredictable plays it is harder for the enemy to prepare for them and they have a chance to be more effective.

You don’t really have an idea what your opponent’s hand may contain. However, they don’t really have an idea what’s in yours either. Do you have 4 Ice Lances? Maybe you could consider trying to save them all and combo them with a Frost Elemental attack to do a shit ton of damage that wouldn’t be possible in Ranked Play. Do you have one Fireball in hand and another available in your deck? Consider saving them to unleash them both at once and do a surprise 12 damage to the face (preferably to finish them with). If you make unpredictable plays it is harder for the enemy to prepare for them and they have a chance to be more effective. So, if you’re forced to make decisions you wouldn’t have made in a regular scenario, consider that an opportunity to catch your opponent offguard and grind your way to victory.

Play to the Strengths of Your Class

This advice applies to any form of Hearthstone you are playing but is especially pertinent in Arena. Because you have the opportunity to grab more than the traditional limit of 2 per each card you can really capitalize on the strengths of your class. To me this means grabbing as many Fireballs, Truesilver Champions, Animal Companions, Unleash the Hounds and Fire Elementals as possible (within reason of course). If 2 of a card is really good, then often times 3 or 4 of that card is also pretty sweet. This is especially true for cards with lower mana costs because of the reduced chance that you’ll be stuck with multiple unusable copies of a card in your hand (like 3 Flamestrikes for example).

Curious about which classes fare best in the arena? Check out Hearthstats for stats by month detailing win rates for arena and ranked play (based on data submitted by users).

Take Your Time

You’re playing Arena! You’re excited! You’re whupping your opponent! Oh wait. You just made a sub-optimal decision and threw your lead. Gosh darn. You didn’t do the math correctly. Oh noooo, you forgot to account for that particular effect… *tears*

Take those extra few seconds to think and you’ll end up cursing at yourself a lot less often.

We’ve all been there. We’re doing great. Flying ahead. The game is in our hands and then we make mistakes we shouldn’t have due to inattention. So, given that arena is even higher stakes than usual (you’re spending precious gold or your own hard-earned money to play it) it makes sense that you should try and apply the entirety of your intellect whenever possible. Try and take a second to breath and reevaluate the decision you’re about to make. Is it better than the other options you have? Is there a different order you should do it in? Are there cards that could still be coming in that could shift the way you’re planning your turn? Take those extra few seconds to think and you’ll end up cursing at yourself a lot less often.

Know When to Take a Break

You’ve just had a terrible arena run and only picked up 1 win out of the four games you played. You’re annoyed that RNGesus wasn’t on your side during the draft or, seemingly, during any of your games. You’ve still got 200 gold in the bank and you’re going to start another run. Great, good for you for not giving up. But consider taking a break. If you’re on tilt you’re less likely to make quality decisions during the drafting stage or your subsequent games and even if you’re not one to get angry it’s still good to take a moment to relax and clear your mind. Hearthstone is a game entirely based around making strategic decisions and thinking intelligently so take a moment to refresh your most important asset (your brainpower!) before diving into it again.

With these tips in hand perhaps you’ll be able to achieve a 12 win run eventually. But as long as you’re able to enjoy yourself, improve and preferably make back the gold you spent I would count it as a worthwhile investment. For me, there’s nothing quite like the rush of having an extended arena run going and feeling the pressure build with each successive win.

Once I get everything sorted for streaming I’m going to be streaming the respective games I play (Dota 2, CS:GO, Hearthstone, etc) so look out for my stream at twitch.tv/nickthepezant if you’re interested, :).

That’s all for now! Have a pezant day.

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”