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Off the Chain – Adjusting an Unchained Rogue in Pathfinder

Hope everyone’s having a great 2021 so far, although, I can say it’s been pretty much just 2020 version 2.0.

Regardless, I’ve been having fun playing an Unchained Rogue in a game of the Emerald Spire Super-dungeon for Pathfinder with my usual group. I’ve reached a point in the game where the Vitalist in our party has Psychic Reformation and I can go back and change a few decisions I made while leveling up and I need to work it out, so this is going to be something of a braindump as I figure out what I want to do. Up to this point, my goal has been to get the feat Circling Mongoose and basically circle-strafe enemies on my own to wipe them out. There are obviously several ways to make this work and that’s what makes it complicated.

To start, here’s the basics:

Dolivar, the Half-Elven, Chaotic Good, Level 8 Unchained Rogue

  • Strength: 14 (+2)
  • Dexterity: 20 (+5)
  • Constitution: 16 (+3)
  • Intelligence: 16 (+3)
  • Wisdom: 16 (+3)
  • Charisma: 17 (+3)

Yes, I rolled well. I added my racial +2 stat bonus to Dexterity at level 1, my level 4 point went into Wisdom, and my level 8 point went into Constitution. I swapped out the Multitalented Racial Trait for the Blended View Racial Trait so I could have Darkvision 60ft. I chose Skill Focus (Acrobatics) for the Adaptability Racial Trait and I chose Resilient (+1 Fortitude Saves) and Elven Reflexes (+2 Initiative) for my character traits. For my favored class bonus, I chose the Human bonus of +1/6 Rogue Talent.

I have max ranks (8) in the following skills: Acrobatics, Appraise, Climb, Diplomacy, Disable Device, Perception, Stealth, Swim, Use Magic Device, Knowledge (Dungeoneering), and Knowledge (Local)

I chose the following feats at levels 1, 3, 5, and 7: Two-Weapon Fighting, Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack.

I chose the following rogue talents at levels 2, 4, 6, 8, and a bonus one at 6 due to my favored class bonus: Minor Magic (Detect Magic), Major Magic (Vanish), Fast Stealth, Combat Trick (Canny Tumble), Shadow Duplicate. I chose Acrobatics for my Rogue’s Edge at level 5 and for Finesse Training I chose the Dagger.

My equipment are as follows:

  • Dagger +2
  • Dagger +1 (I have two of these)
  • Dagger, Cold Iron, Masterwork
  • Dagger, Silvered, Masterwork
  • Dagger (I have two plain ones)
  • Mithril Shirt +1
  • Cloak of Resistance +1
  • Boots of Elvenkind
  • Ring of Protection +1
  • Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone, Cracked
  • A wand of cure light wounds (20 charges)
  • A wand of magic missile (level 3, 25 charges)
  • A wand of cure moderate wounds (50 charges)
  • A waterproof scroll case (3 scrolls of invisibility)
  • 2 potions of cure moderate wounds
  • 2 potions of cure light wounds
  • 1 potion of invisibility
  • A Burglar’s Outfit
  • Masterwork Thieves Tools
  • Masterwork Snorkel (found at the start of a water level and has come in handy since then)
  • Antidote Mask (found in a different level and haven’t had much use for it since)
  • A pair of weighted bone dice
  • Backpack, Waterskin, Rations, Bedroll

So that’s how my character stands now. As I said above, the party Vitalist (read: psionic healer) has the power Psionic Reformation which allows me to change nearly everything about my character. I’m going to take this opportunity to optimize and adjust some things, but I have some choices to make. Namely, do I stay as a TWF Dagger wielder or do I switch to the Elven Curve Blade and two-hand wield it. I did some “back of the napkin” calculations and I THINK I’m staying with daggers and two-weapon fighting, but that’s why I’m doing this braindump.

The main issue is the weapons. The dagger does 1d4 points of damage, piercing/slashing. Due to Finesse Training, I can add my Dexterity to damage, so on the main hand it’s 5 and on the off hand it’s 2 (half, round down). I also can’t forget the magical enhancement bonus on each dagger, so that’s +2 on the main hand and +1 on the off hand. With my level 8 sneak attack, I’m getting an additional 4d6 assuming I can trigger the conditions required. At this level, I get three attacks with the daggers, two with my main hand and one with my off hand at +11/+6 and +10 (base attack of +6/+1, +5 for dexterity, +2 magic bonus on main dagger, +1 magic bonus on off hand dagger, -2 on each for two-weapon fighting with light weapons). Critical range is 19-20 x2. So we’re looking at two attacks at +11/+6 for 1d4+7 damage and one attack at +10 for 1d4+3 with the potential for an additional 4d6 sneak attack on each attack, assuming a full attack action.

If I use the Elven Curve Blade, I’d be doing 1d10 points of damage, slashing. With Finesse Training, I can add Dexterity to damage and since I’d be two-handing the weapon I’d get 1.5x Dexterity added for a +7. Let’s assume I have a +2 Elven Curve Blade, so that’s +2 more damage. Again, level 8 sneak attack is an additional 4d6. At level 8 I’d have two attacks with the Curved Blade at +13/+8 (base attack of +6/+1, +5 for dexterity, +2 magic bonus) with an 18-20×2 critical threat range. Here we’re looking at two attacks at +13/+8 for 1d10+9 damage with the potential for an additional 4d6 sneak attack on each attack, assuming a full attack action.

Average damage on a d4 is 2.5 and average damage on a d10 is 5.5. We can estimate that average damage on the daggers will be 9.5 on the main hand (twice due to two attacks) and 5.5 on the off hand. The estimate for the curve blade is 14.5 (twice due to two attacks). Added together, the daggers do an average (without sneak attack) of 24.50 damage in a full attack and the curve blade does 29 damage in a full attack.

However, we need to include an additional variable in the equation. At level 9, I’m taking Circling Mongoose which allows for self-flanking on an enemy if you succeed in an acrobatics check and you hit the enemy at the start of a full attack action. I’m simplifying, but basically if you’re next to them, you take a 5-foot step, roll acrobatics and attack. If you succeed on both the attack and the acrobatics check, your subsequent attacks (assuming you continue to succeed on hitting and the acrobatics checks you need to make) will be considered flanking and will be sneak attacks. Note that I took the Combat Trick Rogue Talent up above which gave me the Canny Tumble feat. This lets me get a +2 on my next attacks if I succeed on an acrobatics check to avoid attacks of opportunity and it makes it so the opponent cannot add their dexterity to their armor class.

I said all that to say this: if I succeed on the initial acrobatics check, I will be able to get a +2 on the first attack and get a sneak attack. The following attack(s) will gain flanking from Circling Mongoose which will increase the next attack(s) by +4 and also include sneak attack.

Daggers, as above, three attacks. First attack at +13 with 1d4+7+5d6 damage (sneak attack dice go up to 5d6 at level 9). Second and third attacks will be +4 to attack and include 5d6 sneak attack on each. That comes to Main/Off/Main of +13/+14/+10 (61%/65%/48% chance of hitting average CR9 AC of 23) at 1d4+7+5d6, 1d4+3+5d6, and 1d4+7+5d6. Assuming an average 3.5 damage per sneak attack die, we get the following formula: (9.5(3.5*5)+5.5+(3.5*5)+9.5+(3.5*5)) = an estimated 77 damage. For the curve blade, we have only two attacks, so that comes to +15/+12 (70%/57% chance of hitting average CR9 AC 23) at 1d10+9+5d6 and 1d10+9+5d6 or (14.5(3.5*5)+14.5+(3.5*5)) = an estimated 64 damage.

This is a risky combat style, so if I miss an acrobatics check early, it falls apart. If I don’t make the first attack, it’s not the end of the world, but it makes it harder to hit later.

I’m looking to replace the Resilient trait with Crowd Dodger for an additional +2 to Acrobatics, Minor Magic Rogue Talent for Slow Reactions (opponent cannot make attacks of opportunity for one round following a successful sneak attack), and Major Magic Rogue Talent for Weapon Training so I can get a very necessary +1 to attack with whatever weapons I’m using. Those steps will help, but the road I’ve chosen isn’t easy. Here’s hoping I roll well!

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “Mathematics is good for the soul, getting things right enlivens a sense of truth, efforts to understand automatically purify desires.” – Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

Ready Players

I must have read Ready Player One about three or four times before getting the audiobook. That’s been listened to at least a dozen times while working or driving over the last few years. I finished Ready Player Two on Saturday and I’m already listening to the audiobook. I’m probably about two-thirds of the way through it.

After a fashion, parts of RPO really started to irritate me. Like how Wade brags about his gunter chops and how he’s watched Family Ties in its entirety five times or how he’s a subject matter expert on classic coin-op games. Or how he idolized and acted really stupid toward Art3mis and pushed things way too far with her and eventually became that emo teen we all roll our eyes at. I can see similar bits in RPT even as I’m flipping through the book or listening to it for the first time.

I recognize that Wade is an unreliable narrator. The whole book (series now I guess) is from his flawed perspective. He worships this game developer who has his own problems as revealed to us in the second book, but even before those issues are displayed, Wade himself is a painfully stereotypical teenager (sans parents to argue with, which I’m sure is part of the problem) and I noticed some of my own lame-ass behaviors in the book as I read it. I’m sure that’s part of what has irritated me with Wade: I was a lot like him growing up and probably still am to some small extent.

See, I’ve always been a bit of a know-it-all. Okay, a lot of a know-it-all. I love knowing things and sharing that knowledge with anyone and everyone. My approach (which I’ve made significant strides toward squashing) has often been to assume that everyone I talk to knows nothing about the subject I’m about to speak on. It’s like man-splaining to the n-th degree… more like Thomas-splaining since my default approach has just been to try to be the most knowledgeable person in the room regardless of gender. As I’ve gotten older, that desire of mine has fallen to the wayside in a concerted effort of mine to understand that other people know stuff too and it’s okay to not know everything. It’s a game of inches and my wife, the paragon of patience that she is, has been a great guide in my modern social evolution.

I was the rules lawyer in my D&D group. Today, I don’t have time to know all the ins-and-outs so I just go with the flow. I was the Star Wars expert in my little group of friends. Today, I’m lucky if I can keep up with The Mandalorian and it took me years to finish The Clone Wars and Rebels. I’m still the guy my friends come to if they want to buy a new PC, but mainly I just google stuff while I’m on the phone with them.

It’s less of a need to know everything now. Wade is only maybe 19 in RPO and in his early 20’s in RPT. Back when I was that age, I was an idiot, a know-it-all, terrible with the opposite sex, and it looks like Ernie Cline nailed that perspective in print. Either he kept detailed journals or he has just as many regrets about his social development as I do.

Of course, I love the books for the adventure and the chase. I’m a sucker for chases (The Fugitive is one of the best movies of all time, full stop) and these books have high speed pursuits and desperate running between objectives down pretty well. I also like the whole in-game challenge of it all. And I’m not gonna cover this up at all, but I would LOVE to experience the OASIS one day. I even got a VR headset and…

Okay on a slight tangent: Star Wars Squadrons with HOTAS setup (“Hands On Throttle And Stick” as opposed to using the mouse and keyboard) and a VR headset is one of the greatest experiences of my life. When I loaded up a practice map in an X-Wing for the first time in VR and throttled her up and wove between starship debris and asteroids, you better believe I was a child again watching Luke Skywalker make the trench run for the first time. It was almost a religious experience.

Where was I? Oh, yes, so I really enjoyed RPO and now I really enjoy RPT. I catch myself smiling or my heart rate increasing or sharing bits from the book because it’s just so much fun for me. I’m sure there are some other issues with the books that will grate on me eventually, but for now, some good old escapist adventure books are exactly what I love. Plus, I like Indiana Jones AND James Bond and those characters are TERRIBLE. It’s not the characters, it’s the adventures those popcorn movies contain that keep me coming back for more. Plus I’m far enough along in my development to know that the characters in these adventures are not who I should model my behaviors after, but I will definitely pop some popcorn and shut off my brain for a while as the chase begins and Sean Connery says something of a double entendre that was once perceived as witty about 60 years ago.

Ready Player One and Two are like… popcorn books for me, me with my joyous life-long exposure to video games, penchant for being a know-it-all, and love of the chase.

-Thomas

P.S. “If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game’s two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It’s just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.” – Wade Watts, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

This thing is still here!

Hey everyone!

I know it’s been a while, but apparently I’ve been missing writing large blocks of text about games, so here I am!

A lot of life has happened in the last 6 years since I uploaded a post here. In that time, I’ve moved a couple of times, I got married, I got a betta fish who lived, died, and was replaced by a couple of snails, and I have a dog and he’s now almost 3 years old. Currently, I’m in the middle of a D&D game and writing this around my friends taking their turns while we fight a large water elemental rather ineffectually. I’m playing a rogue for the first time in a long time and so I’m extra ineffective.

Oh, there it goes, we finally killed it.

Anyway, I’m still playing games, still wondering why I like the things that I like, so there’s still some writing to do.

Lately, I’ve been playing Diablo III again. I know, old classic, but I’ve also dipped into Anthem, Octopath Traveler, Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars: Squadrons, Elite Dangerous, and did some Until You Fall in VR the other day.

Oh, riiiight. Things have changed! I retired my laptop in June of 2019 and now have an Aurora R8 Alienware desktop and a big monitor, so yeah! Several years ago, I cancelled my sub to SWTOR and 6 months later picked up FFXIV. No regrets at all and that game has become almost a second home to me. I acquired a refurbished Oculus Rift VR headset in early June 2020 and I’ve been using it off and on to play Beat Saber and other games like Star Trek Bridge Crew. I’ve also acquired a HOTAS setup so I can play Squadrons in VR and have the full experience.

Anyway, our game is still going on, so I’d better focus on it!

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “How in the world does a 33 Acrobatics check put me in the water?!” – Me, just now, in my D&D game.

It’s Been A While

Hey there folks, it’s been a while since I’ve had much of an opportunity to write. I haven’t been gaming exceptionally much of late and life is keeping me extraordinarily busy.

What I will mention is that in the last couple of months I’ve very much enjoyed the Diablo III update, the housing update to Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I’m playing Dragon Age II again.

On the D3 update: my character feels stronger than ever. My wizard is a joy to play and I’m often playing at Torment IV. The new equipment I find really encourages good strong looks at the stats and I appreciate tough decisions at high level regarding equipment.

For SWTOR: The housing system is a lot of fun. I spent an entire evening just decorating my main stronghold (the Nar Shaddaa sky palace). It’s really expensive to expand these strongholds and the Tatooine one is exorbitantly expensive. One of these days I’ll get back into it, I hope.

Tuesday, Borderlands The Pre-Sequel releases and I’m hoping everything goes smoothly regarding the free copy I got at PAX East back in April. I’m really looking forward to the story as well as the new characters and gameplay mechanics.

Later this month, Civilization Beyond Earth is dropping (on the 24th) and I’m very excited for that as well. I’m intentionally avoiding the videos and streams they’re releasing so that I can figure this stuff out on my own. Probably not the best idea I’ve had, but I don’t have much time for watching gameplay videos right now.

In Arena Commander, I’ve been spending time lately trying to improve my piloting skills. I’m pretty terrible, but I feel like I’m getting better all the time. Then again, when you’re the worst, all you can do is get better. I’m a bad shot with the gimbaled weapons removed from my 300i trainer, but I’m figuring it out. The main issue is that the Vanduul will change directions randomly after I fire, so it looks like I’m going to hit and then… nope. Oh well, like I said, I’ll figure it out eventually. I just want to get good at this game because when Star Citizen drops I want to be decent enough at it so I can get beyond the starting areas and out into the universe at large.

Speaking of universes, I’ve been considering investigating roleplaying games to see what their populations are. For example, older games, because of the limited space and capabilities of their platforms back then, have smaller observable and implied world populations than modern games. In Final Fantasy VI, there’s about 15 cities but maybe only a few hundred NPCs you can interact with and an implied few thousand actually in the world. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, there’s many thousands of NPCs and an implied number of millions or billions on some worlds thanks to the draw distance and such. I feel like saving the world or the universe is much less impactful when the world/universe isn’t very big or populated. Just a thought that’s been bugging me for a few years now.

However, it’s back to not blogging for a bit. Balancing school, work, and a social life takes up a significant portion of my time these days and I don’t necessarily have something to write about. Therefore, expect me when you see me.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.” – Gandalf

Coming Up

I’m going to have issues in the near future keeping up with everything that’s going on. Namely, gaming is going to have to take a back seat to work and school. Here’s what’s going on…

Currently I’m working nearly 40 hours a week, 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Starting this Thursday, every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday will have an evening class going from 7pm to nearly 10pm. I’ll have an indeterminate amount of weekly homework to do and my “social obligations” to keep up. As a result, I’m going to be having less and less time to game. All that said, here are the things I’m very much looking forward to…

Civilization: Beyond Earth

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Any and all updates for Star Wars: The Old Republic

The upcoming patch for Diablo III

Now, the two game releases are coming in October and I’ve already got my copy of Borderlands coming to me (courtesy of the free copy I got at PAX East from the fine folks at 2K and Gearbox) and I need to pre-order Civ on Steam.

The upcoming things for SWTOR and Diablo III are big content updates that excite and thrill me (namely Galactic Strongholds and patch 2.1.0 respectively).

Anyway, I’ve got plenty of things to look forward to and in the meantime, I can’t guarantee having enough to talk about here. If I miss a Monday here or there, I hope it’s understood I’m just busy and very possibly have nothing to share.

Until next time!

 – Thomas

P.S. “Better to wear out than to rust out.” – Bishop Cumberland

 

Customer Service Follow-up

This past Thursday I submitted what I thought was a second customer service ticket in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Basically it solved my issue.

It turns out that the same bug that ate my cartel coins also probably interfered with my ticket submission. So, waiting until Thursday to file a second ticket probably wasn’t the best of ideas.

That said, Friday morning I had a response from customer service. They had refunded me my 600 cartel coins and informed me about what had probably happened to my first ticket.

I’m so glad that I was able to get through to CS after a while. I understand that they’re hardworking people and they don’t get a lot of gratitude (mainly because there’s not any real feedback they can get unless they hang out on the forums and that place is the land of negativity). I love how quickly they were able to resolve things for me and I really appreciate the help. I didn’t want to be frustrated with SWTOR and I’m glad I’m no longer.

I went and bought my 13th character slot on Saturday and then went and bought an unlock for a friend… and totally forgot that it takes a day and a half to cool down before I could trade it. Oops.

Anyway, I’ve been playing my Trooper Vanguard in SWTOR lately and I’d like to bang out some more of Taris tonight.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “Delighted customers are the only advertisement everyone believes.” – Ron Kaufman

The Customer Service Tango

I was poking at Star Wars: The Old Republic this past Saturday, and I decided that I wanted to mess around in the character creator without deleting any of my people. Well, as it turns out I had 12 characters and had to buy a new slot. Not a problem. With my monthly stipend of 600 cartel coins, a new character slot was only a few clicks away… or so I had thought.

I opened the Cartel Market, found the Additional Character Slot unlock item, and clicked Buy Now. I got a tiny error message (that I don’t remember what it specifically said) and then nothing happened. Except I still lost 600 cartel coins. There was nothing in my Unclaimed Items page, nothing in my inventory, and I still had 12 character slots. I was confused.

So, I logged out and back in. No change. I switched characters. Nope. I poked around a bit longer but then filed a customer service ticket in game. Alas, upon submitting the ticket, it vanished. Apparently there’s a bug that makes your tickets disappear from your Help Ticket History upon submission. I don’t know if it went through and I don’t remember exactly what I said. Lovely.

Let me say that I absolutely love Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have a six month subscription and I’ve had it since the game launched back in December 2011 (well, technically since January 2012 but that’s because I got a free month with the collector’s edition). I understand that bugs happen and it’s okay. I also understand that customer service may have not gotten to my ticket yet or it may have been eaten by the system. These things happen from time to time and I’m not sore about it.

However, I did pay for something that I didn’t get and that irks me on a more visceral level. So… I think I need to make a forum post tonight about it. I gave them Sunday and Monday to get back to me about it, so now it’s time to hit the forums and see what happens.

Watch as they get back to me as I write my forum post.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos

Multiplay FTW

This past weekend I spent some time playing some Diablo III and Civilization V with my friends. Hands down, some of the most fun I’ve had is with my crazy friends in games.

In Diablo III, the goal was to get a friend’s Demon Hunter some better equipment. The legendaries just kept dropping for him and we were laughing about how he was getting all the items and the Witch Doctor wasn’t getting any.

In Civilization V, I started a game with one friend where he’s America and I’m Venice. Then with him and two other friends, we did another game (he’s still America, I’m still Venice, but my other friends are Shoshone and Polynesia).

These days it’s not as easy as I’d like it to schedule time with my friends. Everyone’s getting or is already married, there’s kids, jobs, other friends. Everything’s perfectly understandable. This is, I think, one of the few times in the last several years where we’ve been able to arrange four player gaming for hours on end. It was really great and a lot more fun than I remember.

Sure, you can play these games alone, but sometimes, playing with friends just blows single player out of the water.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.” – Abraham Lincoln

Increasing Difficulty, Doesn’t Feel Like It – Diablo III

I played a ton of Diablo III this weekend, but the key thing that happened was I kicked the difficulty up from Torment I to Torment III and I didn’t really notice much of a change (other than the random death that was considerably more rare in Torment I).

What happened to push me into higher difficulty settings? Well it really only took one legendary sword.

I was playing along, using my Blackhand Key wand and I stumbled across this sword, Thunderfury. The version I have is far better than the one in the link, but essentially, that’s what it is. I slapped a Flawless Royal Emerald into the socket and immediately noticed a significant damage increase. Why? It turns out that when you have a near 50% critical hit chance (like I did), increasing your critical damage by 130% has a really big impact on your damage output. To the tune of making Torment I so easy I was getting bored and Torment II was almost as easy.

After that, the special equipment just started coming my way. Long story short, I now have three of the five pieces of Tal Rasha’s Elements, Mirrorball, and I’m well on my way to finishing out two other sets that I may use depending on my whimsy.

I even adjusted my build. No longer do I use Arcane Torrent, I now pelt enemies with Meteor Shower. I replaced the passive Evocation with Elemental Exposure. So now I’m hitting with ice (from Glacial Spike), lightning (courtesy of Thunderfury and Supermassive Black Hole), arcane (thanks to Cannoneer), and fire (from the meteors). That gives me and my allies a 20% bonus to damage (optimally if I’ve connected on an enemy with all four elements) thanks to Elemental Exposure.

Another reason for dropping Arcane Torrent: while it WAS doing tons of damage, it forced me to stand still while dumping my arcane power. Too much standing still doesn’t allow for a lot of survivability. Also, it just didn’t feel super satisfying to hit things. Glacial Spike is incredibly satisfying with how it smacks into things. Black Hole is very satisfying with how it just pulls most of the enemies into it, allowing me to fire Glacial Spike/Cannoneer into them or even Meteor Showers.

Here, take a look at my character (if you can, I’m not sure how well it works). While the sheet says my damage is in the 700k range (right now) I can regularly get that number up to over 1 million. I often crit for damage in the range of 2.5 – 4.5 million per hit (give or take) so I’m not sure how accurate that sheet number is, but there it is. I’m still enjoying how much damage I do and Torment III is just as easy as Torment I was before this windfall of equipment (pretty easy).

The take-away here is I’m having so much fun in Diablo III and I’m looking forward to the new patch and introduction of new things (which I talked about a few weeks ago).

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. Enjoy this old Blizzard joke.

Too Old? Never!

Today I was talking to someone at work about how they’re redesigning Batgirl and she’s looking really great (and practically dressed which is a plus with me). Another person mentioned that they thought I was too old for comics and I said something to the effect of “I’m a Toys R Us kid! I’m never growing up!”

Obviously, such a statement, “you’re too old for that,” is thrown around by people who aren’t aware of the breadth and depth of mediums such as comics and even video games. As this is a gaming blog, I’m going to tackle the game portion.

First, let’s look at the games themselves. Do they have an age ceiling? Nope. Do they have a minimum age? Some do. So, some can’t (well, SHOULDN’T) be played too young, but they’re available to anyone over that age up to the limit of our natural lives. Cool.

Although, I’m sure she’s not referring to LEGALLY aging out of them though. How about maturing past the content?

Sure, there are some games that I’m way too old for and I’m definitely not the target market any more. I grew up playing Number Munchers, Mixed-Up Mother Goose Rhymes, Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego? and several others that were obviously designed with children in mind. I don’t really have a desire to play them today and they’re all far too easy for me now. No real challenges there (except maybe Carmen Sandiego). How about the other games I grew up with? Well, Starflight, Civilization, Sim City, X-Wing, and X-COM were all marketed to adults. Starflight was such a massive game, my Dad took a very methodical approach to it, mapping out every wormhole, each special artifact, and more on the map that came with the game. If you ever come across the map we have, you could probably beat the game with it. Civilization and Sim City are powerhouse franchises today, made by and played by people of every age group, but back then they had rather steep learning curves and it took some serious dedication (that children usually don’t come pre-built with) to master. X-Wing was one of several flight sims from the age when you were either in the Star Wars camp or the Wing Commander camp (I didn’t play Wing Commander until WC3 came out and I finally played the first two when I got to college) and there was no guarantee you could get your computer to play them without a potential video or sound card upgrade (which typically required being an adult). X-COM scared the crap out of me as a kid (those damn Chryssalids and their creepy grins) and still spooks me today, but I played that for almost 20 years, and even then, I’m playing the remake which will probably keep me playing another 20 or more years.

I think this issue with being too old for something is more a misperception of the medium in question. Comics have been viewed in the past as only a thing for children, but now the stories are more mature and tackle a wide variety of issues. In fact, they’ve been extremely mature for decades now.  Someone saying that you can be too old for comics hasn’t educated themselves enough regarding the material and thus, probably should either be given an opportunity to educate themselves or, failing that, should be left alone in their old-fashioned beliefs. No longer is it just Garfield bemoaning Mondays or Snoopy stealing Linus’ blanket. It’s a young woman being paralyzed by a murderous villain but surviving and becoming a source of inspiration to many. It’s a group of uniquely talented people coming together in adverse conditions to address a threat to society and life as we know it, overcoming their own personal foibles in an effort to do good. It’s a being from another world, or even just someone who’s different somehow, just trying to fit in.

So too it is with video games. They have never been solely a child’s plaything, they have given us incredible mental challenges to overcome, they’ve taxed our resolve, they’ve allowed us to step away from our daily grind and into a fantasy realm that was once only the purview of movies, music, books, and art. While some games attract children for the bright colors and flashy graphics, other games attract older folk for deeper, more nuanced reasons and can be appreciated in a much wider way. I can say with certainty that I have been as equally drawn into a good game as into a good book, a good movie, a good song, a good comic book. There’s that feeling upon finishing such a thing that is nearly indescribable. You know you’ve experienced a significant thing and you’re simultaneously breathless and sad and happy and lost and you don’t know whether or not to restart and try to recapture the experience or to step away and digest.

If growing up means being too old for comics and games, then I’ll never grow up. Of course, it helps I’m a Toys R Us kid.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. This feels appropriate.