Retreat Isn’t Sexy: Starting Out in Heroes of the Storm

I am 6 days in on playing Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s first foray into the MOBA, the genre dominated by League of Legend and DOTA2, which spawned from a Blizzard game in the first place, Warcraft 3. It’s 5×5 team combat, with each player controlling a hero, leveling it up throughout the match, eventually trying to topple the opponent’s base, with the use of special abilities, strategy, and teamwork. I was always interested in MOBAs, finding the depth of strategy and mixing of characters really interesting, but getting into DOTA2 or League seemed very intimidating. Heroes, however, has me hooked.

After the tutorial, I started playing as Tychus, even though he’s rated a “hard” character. After dabbling with a few different melee characters among the launch week’s free characters, I feel much more comfortable as a ranged character. I’ve ranked him up to 8 at the moment, and bought him today after the free characters rotated. I’ve already ranked up Sylvana to 5, and I really enjoy playing with her as well. However, I’m having trouble keeping her alive, which is what I really want to talk about, what I kind of think is the essence of the game, namely, when to run away.

As a gamer, I’ve been trained not to run away, even going back to Mario. You keep going right, because there is no left, no retreat available. That through line has continued through most of video games. You either win, or you die, and start over. You don’t go back, you don’t run away. Running away doesn’t make any sense in most games. Retreat is seldom treated as a tactical option, and even when it is, it’s seldom worth it. Retreat isn’t sexy, isn’t fun, and so it’s not included in most game design. You die, and reload, or respawn. You don’t regret not retreating. You regret dying. However, death is an inevitability in Heroes, and playing with retreat in mind as changed my perspective on other games as well.

With the announcement of Fallout 4, I’ve been revisiting Fallout:New Vegas, a game I played, beat, and sold when it came out, enjoying it far less than Fallout 3. Revisiting it, I’m enjoying it more. With Heroes fresh in my mind however, it’s made me notice how it seldom let’s you escape combat. There are several areas close to where you start that are extremely dangerous for a low level character, and if spotted by one of the monsters there, you’re probably going to die. You’re too slow to run away. Your problem is that you got into combat in the first place. The shift in dynamics between the two has made me wish for a more viable option to retreat, to gather forces, to come back.

As a strategy, it’s also evident in RTSs to an extent, although you’re not nearly as focused on one character as you are in Heroes. It also explains why I was never very good at RTSs. However, I’m finding my footing in Heroes, leveling up and playing different characters. I’ve done well so far, and am really enjoying playing with my friends. I’ll end with what ends many encounters…RUN AWAY!

 

 

Edge of the Empire – The Adventure Begins

We started out with the the beginner adventure the system gives us. Matt is DMing, while me, my wife Kim, and Matt’s wife Melissa were playing. Kim and Melissa were playing pre-gen characters, with Kim as Pash (with a silent P), the smuggler, and Melissa as Mathus (pronounced either Maths or Matthouse), the slicer. I created my character, Helt Treeborn, a human bounty hunter from Onderon.

The adventure begins with a shootout in a Cantina, our team of rogues on the run from Gamorreans hirelings from Teemo the Hutt, who has decided we’ve outlived our usefulness. I took cover behind the bar, getting ready to take out whoever came in first. Pash jumped behind the bar, following my lead, but only ended up talking up the bartender. Mattus tried to jump behind a booth, but ended up slipping and falling into partial cover. The Gamorrean barged through the front door of the cantina, and I aimed and took my shot, immediately taking out the dude in front. The next dude, angry at his associate’s death, charged at me, swinging his big axe. It hit me with a glancing blow, destroying the bar and the my cover. The third went after Mathus, attacking with an axe as well. Pash shot next, hitting the third solidly as he was engaged with Mathus. Mathus attempted an attack on the one he was engaged with, but missed. After being hit with an axe, I was a little miffed, and I took a point blank shot with my blaster rifle at the Gamorrean who had charged me. It landed and took him out. The third, seeing that he was outnumbered and outgunned, ran quickly. Pash took aim and fired at the fleeing alien, killing him as fled for the door. 

The bartender, seeing the carnage and destruction we just caused, and having an eye on Pash, gave him the information we need, namely where to find a part to repair and then steal (or vice versa) the Krayt Fang, the only way offworld, the ship of the notorious bounty hunter Trex. We scooted down to the junk shop where a part was, and Pash successfully haggled the owner to give us the part for 600 credits, which had been promised to Trex at 500.

Next, we decided we needed the space friend code. After being stymied by the droids at the entrance, we sliced our way in the side door, with Pash and Mathus using some social engineering to get to the terminal, getting the necessary information. As we made our way to Landing Pad Aurek, we ran into a gaggle of Storm Troopers, who are making their way through the crowd. We try and melt back into the shadows, but fail, with a lead trooper spotting us. I open fire, missing, and the firefight is on. We exchange volleys back and forth, with myself taking damage, along with the troopers getting hit a little. The initial group of three troopers are joined by three more, leaving us outnumbered. As Pash and Mathus engaged the new troopers, I, being low on health, and seeing our odds looking worse, decided to even the odds by mounting a nearby dewback. Luckily, I found a medpack in the saddle and injected myself quickly. Pash and Mathus focus fire and take out a trooper to the southwest. The troopers to our northeast open fire at my newly acquired dewback, anointed Pal. He shrugs off the damage and I spur him towards the support of a nearby rickety foundation of the town’s water tower. Pal fails to take it down, but he is enraged, and after another flurry of blaster fire, rushes toward the northeast cadre of storm troopers, crushing all three, with me being thrown off in the chaos. Pash and Mathus have coated one of the two remaining troopers with both tomatoes and tent, and I join their fight just in time to finish him off.

We are left with one remaining trooper, who we knock to his back and interrogate. Pash puts his boot to his throat, and we learn that the local Imperial Lt. owed a favor to Teemo. Pash put the trooper out of his misery, and we moved to to Landing Pad Aurek, the streets empty after the firefight. 

After seeing a pair of droids guarding the front door, we sidled over to the side door, with Mathus slicing us in. The Krayt Fang is now visible, with two more droids guarding the entrance ramp, and Trex visible inside the ship. The group comes to an impasse, unsure of where to go from here. Do we lure him out? Do we rush in? I decide to take the initiative and walk over to the pair of droids in front of the Krayt Fang. After asking the droids if Trex is hiring, Trex eventually comes out of his ship, telling me to get lost. I walk out the front door, and make small talk with the droids outside. After being pulled away by Pash and Mathus, we finally decide that a physical altercation is inevitable. We sneak back inside, close and lock the front door. We open fire on the two remaining droids, taking them both down, but we have drawn the attnetion of Trex, who comes to the top of the ramp into the ship, opening fire at me, taking me out. Pash hits me with a medpack, bringing me back on my feet, while Mathus opens fire at Trex. He hits but Trex is one tough hombre, and he shrugs off most of the damage. Remembering that there were a pair of stun grenades in a crate nearby, I run over, grab the grenades, take cover, and open fire, hitting, but again, doing minimal damage. Trex opens fire once again, but this time his shots go wild, instead destroying the crates proviing me cover. Mathus shoots again, but Trex’s tough armor and hide protect him. Pash taunts him viciously, doing a dance before shooting him. This distraction gives me a chance to charge Trex, pulling both the pins and attempting them to lodge them inside his armor. However, both the grenades are duds. My momentum does take us both to the floor, knocking Trex’s gun out of his hand. Trex, furious, swiped at me with his claws, luckily missing me. Pash, cool as a cucumber, grabs Trex’s gun and fires both weapons at point blank range, doing massive damage and knocking Trex out. Pash finishes him off and we dump his body out of the ship.

Mathus quickly works on reinstalling the hyper matter something something, and we blast off. As we leave orbit, two TIE fighters make chase. I blast one out of the sky before they can even take a shot. Pash pilots, dodging the first volley from the remaining fighter. Mathus misses with his first shot. I open fire again at the last fighter, damaging it, but not destroying it. Pash does his best to evade fire, but the second volley from the TIE hits us, doing damage. Mathus shoots again, this time hitting the TIE, the TIE exploding, with some debris getting lodged in our hull. We hit hyperspeed, getting the hell away from Tatooine.

Writing

I’ve had an itch to write seriously lately, and I’ve finally scratched it tonight. Despite doing my best to procrastinate, I still managed to get a thousand words out. I don’t think I’ll be able to write every day, especially with how hectic life is right now, but knowing it’s there is good. I need to make this a part of my life. I can’t delay it and rationalize it. I’m going to cut my podcast production by a third so that I’ll have more time.

I’m going to try to make a serious effort to write something every day, even if it’s garbage. I need to make it a priority. I doubt I’ll ever make a living off of it, but I won’t know if I never try.

What is this?

In brief, this is a place for me to write things so I don’t make podcasts about them. I co-host, produce, and edit two podcasts already, three episodes a week in total. I do not have the time to handle another one, but yet I have feelings and thoughts about things. They will be put here.