Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis Retires From Evil Geniuses

Evil Geniuses today issued the announcement that EG and esports veteran Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis is retiring from the player’s hot seat. He is, however, remaining with EG as an active coach for future EG Dota2 lineups.

His retirement is effective immediately, with Fear citing his personal health as a priority. In a brief statement on EG’s website, he recognizes his accomplishments and gushes about EG and Dota. “I still have a passion for Dota and for competing,” Fear begins, “but the long term health of my arm has to come first.”

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The sudden removal of heavy-hitters like Fear is sure to make a splash. Teammates and many redditors who Bleed Blue are bummed yet supportive. Teammate PPD said this of Fear: “Fear helped me reach my potential, and I believe he will continue to do that for players in the years to come.” Of his prospective coaching abilities redditor /u/prolepatriot thinks, “considering how much ppd and others on EG have praised fear for being a calming presence as well as helping with the drafts…i expect fear to be one of the best coaches in the scene.”

With an empty chair now in the lineup EG plans to announce its new Dota2 roster tomorrow.

TI6, EHOME vs. EG: How EHOME Faltered, EG Staged a Comeback

In what can confidently be declared as one of the greatest matches of DOTA2 in the history of everything ever, game 1 of the EHOME vs. Evil Geniuses went to EG, having bided their time, staged a clutched throne rush and producing a thrilling last minute comeback. The fallout of the nerve-wrecking 75 minutes match witnessed EG moving on and EHOME dropping to the lower bracket.

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EHOME had all of the radiant T1 and T2 towers down by the 20-minute mark. They were ahead in farm, in kills, in XP. IceIceIce as Timbersaw kept the lanes pushed out and Old eLeVen as Beastmaster provided vision all over the radiant side of the river. EG were hesitant to do anything; PPD was picked off nearly any time he happened to leave base. All the while old chicken continued his free reign in the enemy jungle for farm and items for his Juggernaut. EHOME must have taken Roshan at least four times. Fenrir had a stash of that sweet, stinky cheese in his inventory.

There came a point where an EHOME victory was all but certain. So, what the devil happened? Why was Key Arena filled with thousands of EG fans ejaculating “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” Prompting PC Gamer’s Chris Thursten to Tweet:

Two factors led to EG’s victory: 1) Their ability to read the situation, and 2) EHOME’s mishandling of an early advantage.

Put simply — and as nicely and professionally as possible — EHOME’s early advantage went to their heads. Contrary to the more controlled and paced play style they generally favor, it seemed that this early aggro gave them a little too much confidence. To be fair, this dominance was rightfully earned; EG did not give this to them. EHOME just played smart…

… that is, until they started sieging radiant high ground. Old chicken specifically was overextending himself too often. Iceiceice seemed to forget that the DOTA2 user interface has a map in the lower corner, often getting ganked because of zero (0) awareness. The supports did the best they could to maintain dominance of the radiant side, but EHOME’s cores started getting too cocky and thus team composition started breaking apart.

Dagon

EG saw this. Even though they had less vision, they read how EHOME was behaving when besieging and capitalized on this. Using PPD as Ancient Apparition as bait, EG would stage counter ganks, relying on the head-strong EHOME cores to come in for the kill. With those threats removed Universe would then drop some damn effective chronospheres while SumaiL dropped the stars on remaining the remaining EHOME roster.

And so it went for nearly another 60 minutes. EG paced themselves, resetting fights and reacting to EHOME tactics. Iceiceice kept the lanes pushed. Juggernaut kept farming. Roshan was highly contested. Buybacks were commonplace. But it seemed with each passing minute EG somehow kept gaining ground back, and EHOME was consistently underestimating their opponents’ draft.

There came a point after the 60-minute mark when EG had to get creative and act fast. Iceiceice was become too tanky for rightclicks and old chicken’s six slots made it hard for Universe to trade punches with him. What to do… What to do…

THIS!

THIS!

SumaiL was the first to purchase a dagon. Then Zai. By the time they both had a level 5 dagon, PPD starting getting in on it. Evil Geniuses were having themselves a laser party. And that party came a’knockin on the dire’s front door.

Yes! EG chrono’d, brawled, and zapped their way back across the map, dodging golems and saw blades. They rushed mid, took out the barracks. In the last few minutes, both teams fought dirty right there in front of the dire ancient. Kills were had. Buybacks were bought. Both teams sent their carries on a Hail Mary mission to the opposing side, and the game quickly turned into a base race. EHOME had siege creeps flooding the radiant base.

The clutch moment was when we got the notification that Universe was now equipped with a Divine Rapier, giving him the edge in the race. He activated his Boots of Travel, plopped right in front of the dire ancient and demolished that sucker before EHOME had time to preemptively declare ‘gg’.

Commentators were speechless. The crowd was bezerk. I still can’t even. I think all the the Dota community still can’t even.

The fallout of that spectacular 75-minute match carried over into game 2 where EHOME was clearly deflated and tilted. In a rather unspectacular match, EG was the victor mere minutes before the 40-minute mark.

And this is only the semi-finals.

Props to both teams for giving us so damn good Dota.

The International 6, Day Three: Evil Geniuses Vs. EHOME

The schedule for The International tonight is quite the humdinger. This stage of the tournament is when the games get scrappy, dirty, increased in variance and tremendously fun to watch. Four teams will move on, two teams will be shown the door – and still quite a handsome consolation prize.

The tournament will open with the lower bracket matchups which consists of Alliance vs. Fnatic, and Newbee vs. Liquid. Alliance will most certainly wallop Fnatic. And, regardless of who emerges this victor between Newbee vs. Liquid, that team will most certainly wallop Alliance tomorrow.

After the deciding lower bracket match of who exactly is going to wallop Alliance tomorrow, we’ll move on to the upper bracket where the first matchup is between MVP Phoenix vs. Wings. Both teams have had a rather even-keel climb, winning some, losing some. MVP specifically have stuck to generally tried-and-true drafts, with QO performing competently in position 1 as predominantly either Juggernaut or Phantom Assassin.

The real battle tonight — the one I am already surging for and hate that I have to wait until the very end — is EHOME vs. Evil Geniuses. This one… hooo baby. This is going to be some serious Dota.

DOTA 2 ESPORTS TEAM EHOME

From the very beginning of TI6, EHOME has been solid. Starting as a wild card, they scrapped and fought their way into the upper bracket where they currently sit, pitted against EG. As a team, as a business entity, they aren’t nearly as conspicuous as EG. This unassuming presence also translates into their playstyle. They draft and play in an unorthodox way that, while may not be the most bombastic spectating experience, still yields results. They are all about the slow burn, flexibility, making versatile heroes do tremendous things.

This is why I love them. They skirt around the meta and thusly totally befuddles their opponents. Their position 4 is just as effective as their position 1. Take, for example, yesterday’s second match against Alliance. Team leader iceiceice as Sven seemed almost like a position 1 decoy alongside Fenrir as Shadow Deon, while old chicken as Mirana, old eLeVeN as Sand King, and old LaNm as Elder Titan constantly rotated lanes, chained stunned for miles, and took objectives with the ease and grace of a flock of swans. old LaNm on ET was especially fantastic, totally the unsung player for that match.

Evil Geniuses EG SumaiL DOTA2

Evil Geniuses on the other hand has had a successful, albeit rocky, series of engagements whose outcomes have placed them where they are now. The champions of TI5 seemed a little rattled from the group stage but still readily pounced Newbee last night.

What makes me most nervous for EHOME in this matchup is SumaiL. A versatile player, SumaiL alone could bleed EHOME dry. Where EHOME dodge the meta with unusual tactics, SumaiL can potentially be EG’s tip of the spear; all he needs is one crack in EHOMEs armor and the damage will be deep and irreversible.

If SumaiL goes with a Storm Spirit or Huskar pick I will be sweating bullets for EHOME. If he goes for position 3 or lower, then I’m going to pop some popcorn and watch these yankees go down.

EHOME vs. EG — East vs. West — Champions vs. Underdogs

GonBGud

Guy’s Weekend 2015

Last August, a group of us got together for what is becoming an annual event — the “Guys Weekend”, a time when we get some time away from the family to hang out and do what we love best — eat greasy food and play games. Lots and lots of games.2015-08-21

We decided this year to kick things off with lunch at the Columbus greasy spoon Icon Thurman’s Cafe, home of the world famous Thurman Burger. After stuffing our face with burgers and wings, we headed back to Buttonmasher HQ for some serious board gaming.

The king of Board Games (Mr. Board Gaming Deals Himself) decided that in addition to the games being played, we’d hold a sort of meta-contest with a traveling trophy. He kept track of wins and losses for each game played and compiled ranking that changed as games were won and lost.IMG_1453

What follows are the games that were played and who ended up in possession of the traveling trophy (spoiler alert: The Guys’ Weekend Champion is devastatingly handsome.)

The Game Champion

The Game Champion Trophy

Games:
King of Tokyo has become a family favorite in the Buttonmashing household. You play as one of six Monsters, vying to be the King of Tokyo. You can do this by defeating the other monsters in a fight to the death or peacefully achieve victory by way of victory points. You increase your monster’s powers by buying cards. There are numerous expansions, and we brought in the King of Tokyo: Power Up! expansion, which gives each of the monsters a set of unique powers as the game goes on. KoT has the potential to be over quickly or drag on far too long, but it’s an enjoyable game that balances luck with good planning and strategy.

Dixit was probably my favorite game of the weekend. Each player is dealt a number of cards corresponding to the number of players. Each card is a beautiful piece of artwork, depicting a scene or a portrait or something evocative. The player chooses a word or phrase to describe his card, and everyone else chooses a card from their stack that best matches the description. Then all cards are shuffled and revealed, and players choose which card they think the player’s card is. The card is revealed and points are dealt out according to the outcome. What makes Dixit so enjoyable is the ambiguity that is needed to describe your card enough to obfuscate it within the other cards but not distinguish it.

DC Comics Deck-Building Game was another game that got some attention, similar to Ascension, and if you’ve read this site for any length of time, you know my relationship with Ascension. It also led to a few early disagreements over who were truly your friends and who were dirty rascals out to ruin your fun and your life.

2015-08-25Relic is a variation of the classic game Talisman, set in the Warhammer 40k universe. Relic probably had the biggest turn around of any of the game played. Jason and I seemed to be more or less headed for a showdown while James and Nick struggled to get a foothold. But as my chances started dwindling, Nick made a push through the final tier of challenges and his assassin’s perk, an extra die roll on explosions (rolling two sixes), gave him the extra oomph to claim victory. It was an unbelievable string of dice rolls, capping off a hard fought game of Relic.

This is just a sampling of games we’ve played. Other games included Forbidden Desert, Sushi Go, Family Business, and Formula D. (Others played, but I did not, Great Heartland Hauling Co and Lords of Waterdeep). I really liked the co-op nature of Forbidden Desert and I loved the cutthroat Family Business and the accompanying threats that flowed freely. Family Business should be called Friends and Family Relationship Ruiner. The less said about the things that were said during Family Business, the better.

Computers were set up for some PC gaming and of course there was Dota 2 to be played. While computer gaming usually takes a backseat to tabletop, there’s always time for Dota 2.

In the end, the results were tallied and a champion was crowned:

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This bad boy looks beautiful displayed on the top of my new gaming PC.

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In my Hands (Gaming on a Surface Pro 4)

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So I didn’t pick this up for the express purpose of gaming (I built a new PC for that last year (I should probably write a post about that)) but I do expect to do some gaming-on-the-go when the opportunity arises. I don’t expect to pump out the eff pee esses at an alarming rate, but I do plan on putting this Surface Pro 4 through its paces.

So far, I’ve installed Steam on it and I’ve installed Dota 2 (Because of course that’s what I’d do).

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I spectated some of the Manila Major and it did just fine. I was running it at its native resolution (2736×1824) and it looked great. (Seriously though, the screen on the Surface Pro 4 is FANTASTIC. I can’t stop raving about it). I haven’t tried playing Dota 2 on the Surface Pro 4 yet, so I can’t comment on in-game performance yet, but I anticipate having to back down the resolution and tone down the settings. That remains to be seen.

The other test I was able to try so far was using Steam In Home Streaming. This harnesses the power of my gaming PC (Seriously, I need to write about that) and play anything in my Steam library on the Surface Pro 4.

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For this test, I hooked up an Xbox 360 controller to the Surface Pro 4 and streamed some Fallout 4. Aside from a slight (but noticeable) input lag, the game ran fine and looked pretty good on the little screen. I’m not sure what resolution the game was playing at but it looked fine. This will probably prompt me to buy a new wireless Xbox One controller, as this can be synced directly with the Surface Pro 4 (and I could eventually stream Xbox One games to it (if I ever breakdown and pick up and Xbox One)).

So my initial impressions are that it’s not going to replace my PC anytime soon but for gaming, the Surface Pro 4 seems like it’s going to be a competent little machine.

(And yes, this post was written using a Surface Pro 4)

I paid ten dollars for a Dota 2 cosmetic set…

… and I’m surprisingly okay with that.

I’m sure someone could pinpoint the moment when “Free to Play” got a foothold in gaming and became a thing but for the longest time, my attitude toward them was firmly on the “who cares” spectrum. Paying for cosmetics in a game I otherwise did not have to buy seemed pointless. Whereas, in other paid games, paid cosmetics was just a bonus feature that I’d just ignore. I was firmly a “I’d never pay for a cosmetic item” kind of guy. Cosmetics, ultimately, didn’t have any impact on me anyway because I didn’t play anything that was free to play anyway. Then I started playing Dota 2 in earnest a couple of years ago. (I think I gave the game a try after listening to a string of Idle Thumbs podcasts where the main topic of discussion was Dota 2. I had tried a MOBA before (League of Legends) but it didn’t grab me like Dota did.) I was now playing a free to play game wasn’t in your face with their microtransaction offerings. Just the occasional “get these cool cosmetic items! Look at this sword for your dude!” My feelings remained unchanged.

Cosmetic items have been, as far as I can tell, always been available for Dota 2 heroes even if they weren’t an option for all heroes.

This is a topic that will probably fork into another post, but somehow I ended up playing and building an affinity to the agility hero Juggernaut. I don’t know if it was because it was the most recognizable name in the list or I liked the idea of a masked, exiled samurai. Either way, Juggernaut has become “my guy”. He looks cool, has a sweet sword and his ultimate is one of the more satisfying ultimates in the game.

I don’t remember how it happened, but one day there was a cosmetic set for Juggernaut in my inventory. It was a simple set called Traveler on the High Plains. All the set items were classified as Common items, meaning they weren’t particularly rare or unique but the next time I played Jugg I equipped the items and a whole new game opened before my eyes:

I had an epiphany. This was my Juggernaut. There are many other Juggernauts like it, but this one is mine.

There are many cosmetic items for Juggernaut, possibly the most out of any of the heroes (maybe research this). Between his mask, his sword and his clothing, the possibilities and combinations of your Juggernaut are endless.

Juggernaut Mixed Items

I picked up odds and end pieces for Juggernaut but never could bring myself to pay more than a few quarters to pick something up. That was until the set “The Balance of the Blade Keeper” set became available last year. At the time, it cost $10.99 and as soon as I saw it, I hit the purchase button and haven’t looked back. Because the Blade Keeper set had such a unique look and style I picked it up without hesitation.

Juggernaut Balance of the Bladekeeper

The cosmetic items for Dota 2, to me, have been one of Valves most brilliant moves. Opening up the character models to freelance graphic artists basically increased their “workforce” to thousands of people with talent and know-how to customize the game and the personal experience of individual Dota 2 players. Valve lets these freelancers peddle their wares, all the while taking a little cut for being the middle man. This enables artists to develop a brand and a following, creating items for fans of the game.

Juggernaut Arms of the Gwimyeon Warrior

Juggernaut Bladesrunner

I have amassed, officially, over 1,000 hours of playtime over the past three years playing Dota 2. Steam tells me I’ve spent over 150$ on the game over that period of time. If there was some formula to determine “value” and if that formula were to be, say, dollars divided by hours, Dota would have delivered on 10 cents an hour, which I would say is a pretty dang good value, considering 1) it’s free and 2) most AAA games are luck to deliver 1.50$ an hour.

Juggernaut Gifts of the Vanished Isle

I don’t know how much longer I’ll play Dota 2 but they’ve turned me into a Free to Play believer and I’ve most certainly got my money’s worth.

Tony’s 2014 Game of the Year – 2 Much Dota 2

We neglected to do “Game of the Year” posts last year. Previously we used to do “Fun Game of the Year” lists where we’d talk about the games we had the most fun with that particular year. We’re going back to our roots and posting our “Game of the Year” posts this year.

For me, my game of the year did not come out in 2014. It actually went into beta in 2011. Heck, it’s conception didn’t even happen in this decade — it’s a revamped version of a Warcraft III mod that was popular almost ten years ago. It went out of beta in 2013. And yet it’s the game that has held my attention longer than any other game not named EVE: Online.

I could spend a month’s worth of posts explaining why Dota 2 consumed so much of my time. The short list includes:

  • “Quick”, concise games – I know what I’m committing to when I hit “Play” in Dota 2. This isn’t going to be a marathon gaming session. It will be between 40-60 minutes. There will be no do-overs, no quick saves. Just me, my team and uninterrupted mayhem.
  • Over 100 heroes to learn and love (and hate) – It takes a while to get used to any one hero and it takes HOURS to get “good”. I would say I am “good” with about ten heroes. There are some I don’t care if I ever play. There are probably another 20-25 I’d like to get better at.
  • Never the same game twice – (Which is ironic to say because it’s the EXACT same game EVERY TIME) With two teams of five heroes each, the combinations are limitless. Add in varying skill levels and teammate competency and you’ve go the ingredients for infinite variety.
  • Free to play, pay to be different – This is actually going to be the subject of its own post, but I used to think free-to-play games that offer character customization (flair, if you will) was no way to run a free to play game. After having spent more on Dota 2 than I would buying a triple-A title, I have to say that Valve got free-to-play “right”.
  • The pro scene – I sometimes compare the pro Dota 2 scene to professional golf. Golf is a game that has a low enough bar for entry that just about anyone can play it. At the same time, the level of play of professionals is so advanced, no weekend warrior will ever be as good. But they are playing essentially the same game. Other pro sports are not like that. Your yearly Turkey Bowl with you buddies is not and will never be the Super Bowl. Dota 2 enthusiasts can watch a Dota 2 pro match and understand the strategy and gameplay and think “I could do that”.
  • I am a collector and stats whore – See above about customizing your character for the collector part — I love my Dota 2 inventory. But if you’ve followed this blog since the beginning, you’ll know how much of a stats whore I am (Halo 3, for instance). There is a ton of data generated during each match of Dota 2, and there are great sites like dotabuff.com that will aggregate and present it so you can brag to your friends after that great 20-3-15 game.

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Yes, the game has a community that is usually toxic but there are always pleasant little surprises sprinkled in among the dreck. If you find some dudes that don’t disparage your manhood nor question your ancestry (like the guys in the Buttonmashing Steam Group!), team up with them again. It’s safer to go into the Swamps of Sadness with some mates.

Even though there is a lot, this post is just scratching the surface. I’d really like to delve deeper into some of the games mechanics and concepts and the things that you can do around the periphery of the game as the year goes on. So I hope you like reading about Dota 2, because I sure like it as a game!

Weekend Gaming

Fall is here, which means earlier sunsets, cooler nights and MORE TIME FOR GAMING!

This weekend looks like it’s going to be heavy on the Dota for me. The new patch has come out and every Dota fan is out there, analyzing all the changes. This includes comparing patches and game changes to the Fashion Industry and the idea of a giant snowball of death.

I love it all. I’m particularly interested in trying a couple of things. They gave Timbersaw (#3 on my personal list of favorite Heroes) A SECOND CHAKRAM. (For you Dota Newbies, Timbersaw throws out a whirling blade that spins in place, damaging heroes caught in it and slowing them). In my mind, I see a Venn Diagram of two Chakrams, with Riki or Sniper caught in the intersection.

I also would like to try the newly re-worked Phantom Lancer. Phantom Lancer was fun to play before and the new changes make his strategy completely different. He looks fun, too.

And finally, three games have come out recently that are getting good reviews and I want to try: Gauntlet, Shadow of Mordor and Defense Grid 2. It will be very hard to resist picking one of them up very soon.

So it’s Dota and whatever else tickles my fancy this weekend. How about you?

What are you playing?

Weekend Gaming

phantom_lancerIt’s been a while since we’ve discussed what weekend gaming plans you have, so here’s a weekend gaming thread to plan out your weekend!

For me, I am about 3 hours in to Divinity Original Sin and I’m starting to get into a comfortable groove with it. I like the turn-based RPG mechanics, I like the setting and the story doesn’t make me roll my eyes (even though it took a weird turn early). I plan on putting some serious time in with Divinity.

I’m also hyped because this weekend is the finals for the Dota 2 Championship, The International 4. It may be a sign of things to come, but ESPN will actually be broadcasting the Finals and showing a Dota 2 Special Sunday night on ESPN 2.

So ya, in addition to playing Divinity, I’ll be watching Dota 2 as well.

I also dusted off my 3DS and plan on visiting my Animal Crossing town, which almost certainly has fallen into disrepair. I hope the animals recognize me.

What will you be playing?

What I’ve Been Playing

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That should clear up any doubts.

(In all seriousness, my gaming time has pretty much been all consumed by Dota 2. I hope to actually write some words about it one of these days. Maybe their servers will go down for a period of time and I can come up for air.)