Category Archives: Articles

Articles I’ve written that are featured elsewhere

Interview with Staz

This post was first published on GameForge Hearthstone’s Facebook Page on Jan 27, 2017. I’m putting it here as a backup copy. Click here to see the original post.
Last week, Euneil “Staz” Javiñas won the entire World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) Hearthstone World Finals in Changzhou, China, and has become the first SEA player to have a major win. Bagging a cool USD150,000, a whopping 25kg trophy and bragging rights is nothing short of amazing and it’s probably more meaningful to him as it’s his biggest monetary victory yet.
The PH Alliance player is no stranger to hardship as his professional Hearthstone career has been riddled with potholes. He was repeatedly denied visas to the US which cost him several opportunities to compete. Nevertheless, he persevered and the Filipino finally earned the well deserved title of Champion of a premier Hearthstone tournament.
We managed to ask Staz a few questions and he graciously replied, giving us just a glimpse into his world. Most people would want to know how a full time eSports gamer prepares for such events and Staz’s secret is that he has no secret, just pure hard work. He predicted that most people would bring Reno and Patches decks, which was no surprise to anyone.
Staz himself brought Reno Mage and Pirate Warrior, as well as Miracle Rogue, Renolock and Jade Aggro Shaman. Staz felt that these decks had consistency and he preferred to focus on practicing with the decks than to come up with tournament strategy to counter a specific deck or type of deck. Staz didn’t favour any of his decks in particular, he just practiced with all of them them until he reached a fairly equal level of confidence with wielding each one effectively.
Since he expected meta decks, he practiced with meta decks, which not only let him understand the nuances and weaknesses of each deck, but also translated all that practice into muscle memory. Practice gains experience and enough experience turns into reflex actions and instinct. This meant that playing in the tournament didn’t tax his brainpower as much, which in turn allowed him to use his time each turn more effectively to figure out better plays, lessened the likelihood of misplays, and also extended his mental stamina by that much more.
Staz has a lot of respect and hope for our SEA players and says that he can name “at least 15 players who are equally good or even better than [him] here in SEA”. It’s just that we do not have as much exposure or as many major tournaments as the NA or EU regions. So what can SEA players do to elevate themselves to become world class players? Staz brings it back to hard work and perseverance. Just do your best and grind as many tournaments as you can. Keep practicing and, well, git gud, scrub. Everyone has different points of view and personally for him, he likes to understand all the mechanics and the current state of the meta.
He does feel that playing eSports, Hearthstone especially, is a viable full-time career as there are an increasing number of companies investing in eSports and more major tournaments coming up. There are also teams and sponsors that pay enough to satisfy your basic needs, if you can find them, but that really depends on the cost of living in your country. For example, here in Singapore, the cost of living is really quite expensive compared to that of our neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Just take it from Staz; when asked what the most fun or interesting thing he did (besides winning) while in Changzhou, he said he made a lot of friends and generally had a great time. Imagine living there, where the cost of living is about 50% cheaper compared to that of Singapore, playing Hearthstone everyday and hanging out with great people! You don’t really have that kind of freedom here when the pressures of being an adult have you working at least a part time job to pay the bills.
Our final question we had for Staz was where he saw himself in Hearthstone about two years from now. He replied that, due to Hearthstone’s unpredictability, no one can really look that far into the future. However he did say it could take him anywhere and, when he’s winning this kind of money, he can definitely go wherever he pleases!
Congratulations Staz, you’ve done your country and the SEA region proud. Euneil-ed it!
Written by Jace
Jace is a casual Hearthstone player. Like most players, he has dreams of hitting Legend, but like most players, he’s too lazy to put in the effort. So he writes articles like this one to learn from the true masters. Check out more of his writing attempts at punslingerofthemildjest.wordpress.com.
-Jace
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Logitech G231 Prodigy

This post was first published on GameForge Hearthstone’s Facebook Page on Jan 17, 2017. I’m putting it here as a backup copy. Click here to see the original post.
REASONS TO OWN A GAMING HEADSET FOR HEARTHSTONE
  1. It’s an essential tool for gamers and streamers.
  2. It helps to provide quality streaming either casually or professionally on Facebook and Twitch TV.
  3. It enables clear communication via the new in-game chat function for coaching and strategy discussion.
  4. Enriches your overall gaming experience!
REVIEW ON LOGITECH G231 PRODIGY GAMING HEADSET
At only 255g, the G231 Prodigy is not only light, but it’s also covered in a sports mesh cloth at the areas where it makes contact with the wearer’s head, namely the ear cushions and the underside of the headband. While leatherette is more commonly used, the mesh cloth is more durable and doesn’t flake off when it gets old. The softness of the material and the way it allows air to ventilate through the mesh keeps the head and ears cool and overall provides great comfort to the wearer. This is a particularly desirable feature, given Singapore’s warm and humid climate. The ear cushions are designed to go around the ear rather than on the ear, which also adds to the comfort regardless of ear size or shape.
The G231 Prodigy also features ear cups that have a wide swivel range of up to 90 degrees. This is makes the headset stand out amongst other headsets that have fixed ear cups because it’s able to accommodate the wearer’s small movements. When other headphones slip, they tend to let in surrounding noise, but the G231’s ear cups swivel and continuously supply steady sound without needing to be readjusted.
The headset provides stereo sound, which is rich and crisp, and this gives the user a complete immersive experience. There is a bit of static sometimes, but this is one of the more affordable headsets so it’s actually quite acceptable for its price.
The unidirectional microphone doesn’t have noise cancelling, but still enables clear communication. The mic is fold-able, meaning you can push it away when you’re not using it, but it’s not retractable. Because of this, some of us feel it’s a bit large and we can’t adjust it to the desired length. If multiple people happen to use the same headset, then each person might need to adjust the length of the mic so having a retractable microphone would be preferable. Having volume control and a microphone muting switch on the wire is also quite useful. This means the user doesn’t have to adjust the volume on their computer when they switch between using the headset and speakers.
In conclusion, the G231 Prodigy is well-rounded and affordable and we highly recommend it for gamers looking to get started with a gaming headset. It’s durable and serves as a good starting pair that are definitely worth investing in!

Written by Jace

Jace is a casual Hearthstone player. Like most players, he has dreams of hitting Legend, but like most players, he’s too lazy to put in the effort. So he writes articles like this one to learn from the true masters. Check out more of his writing attempts at punslingerofthemildjest.wordpress.com.

-Jace

Road to Legend Rank 1 in 2 days

This post was first published on GameForge Hearthstone’s Facebook Page on Jan 6, 2017. I’m putting it here as a backup copy. Click here to see the original post.

Our very own katsucurry reached Rank 1 Legend just two days into Season 34 and naturally we are all very excited and eager to know what his secret is so that we can just copy/paste and hope to achieve similar results. Because we all want that “gg ez game bois” deck right?

Think it’s that easy? Katsucurry dedicated more than 20 hours of gameplay and played over 150 games, averaging a win rate of 66%. And he did it with just one deck: Reno Mage. He said that the deck definitely felt like a Tier One option as long as there were no Tier One Druids.

reno-mage-legend-rank-1

Please not that this list was used by katsucurry but created by him.

DECKLIST
Kastucurry says he doesn’t consider himself to be a deck builder, he usually just plays the decks that he thinks are the current best out there. If he were to make any changes to the list, it would be to add additional card draw like Novice Engineer or Acolyte of Pain. The Ice Lance has also been hit or miss for him, so it’s next up on the chopping board.

MULLIGAN
Because this is a Reno deck, there’s no perfect way to make a reliable mulligan guide as there are way too many possible permutations of starting hands.

That being said, katsucurry did provide some tips:

  • Reno Jackson is always a keep except against Druid
  • Kazakus is always a keep
  • You want removal spells against aggressive decks
  • Against control, you want draw spells, cycle/value minions, Emperor Thaurissan and Archmage Antonidas

MATCH UPS
To answer the question that’s on everyone’s minds: No, Pirate Warrior isn’t the top dog on ladder. Out of the 150+ games he played, Katsucurry mostly faced Shamans – usually Aggro Shaman variants – but there were a few Midrange Shamans here and there as well. Other reasonably represented decks were Miracle Rogue, Renolock, Reno Mage, Pirate Warrior, Dragon Warrior and Dragon Priest. Other than Dragon Warrior, the rest of the decks shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Katsucurry said that the easiest deck to beat was Midrange Shaman. This version of Reno Mage also has the edge in a mirror match and against Renolock because of it’s additional reach. Rogues and Dragon Priests feel like the harder match ups for this deck.

STRATEGY
Against aggressive decks, you basically try to survive with removal spells and get to the late game where you can resolve a threat and contest their board position.

Against control decks, you usually go for the burn plan which is really similar to how Freeze Mage wins and sometimes you can go for the value game plan. The burn plan is to crank out a bunch of Fireballs from Archmage Antonidas with the help of Emperor or double 1-cost Kazakus spells and then burn out your opponent to the ground with a little help from Pyroblast or Alexstrasza.

GAME PLAY TIPS
When playing against aggressive decks, the aim is just to survive the early game, so plan your turns in such a way that you take the least amount of damage possible. Don’t be afraid to use cards like Ice Lance just to prevent a few points of damage and keep stalling until you find Reno Jackson or stabilize the board.

Against control, your game plan should be to draw and cycle as much as possible to get to Emperor Thaurissan or Archmage Antonidas. You almost always want to wait for the Brann + Kazakus combo. However, if the situation calls for an emergency Kazakus board clear or if you feel the need to get immediate value in the form of drawing cards and/or developing a board, go for it.

INTERESTING PLAYS
The deck has a few interesting combos that are good to be aware of. Besides the Brann + Kazakus combo, there are:

  • Inkmaster Solia + Pyroblast + Roaring Torch or discounted Fireball can OTK after Alexstrasza or against an active Jaraxxus
  • Inkmaster Solia + 10 mana Kazakus potion on turn 7
  • With 10 mana crystals, Brann + Kabal Courier can potentially find and play Kazakus in the same turn
  • Brann + Kazakus for double 1-cost potions to play with Antonidas

Written by Jace

Jace is a casual Hearthstone player. Like most players, he has dreams of hitting Legend, but like most players, he’s too lazy to put in the effort. So he writes articles like this one to learn from the true masters. Check out more of his writing attempts at punslingerofthemildjest.wordpress.com.

-Jace

Feature Article – Mikkel Goh

This post was first published on GameForge Hearthstone’s blog on Aug 2, 2016. I’m putting it here as a backup copy. Click here to see the original post.

Mikkel Goh is an outgoing 17 year old student at BMC International College and is a competitive player in Hearthstone for Team GameForge. He started playing in 2015 through an introduction from Yee Shean, who is a friend and now fellow teammate. Mikkel realized he had potential when he achieved the Legend rank within his second month of picking up the game. He subsequently joined regular tournaments, both official and unofficial, often finishing within the top 32 out of 256 players, and has won at least two of them. With a competitive nature and a background in other card games such as Duel Masters and Vanguard, it isn’t hard to see why Mikkel has done so well.

Mikkel has expressed his desire to be a professional gamer and play Hearthstone competitively full time, which is why he joined the GameForge team just a few months after he picked up the game. He says that enjoys the prospect of attention, fame and respect it will bring him, and that that is his main motivation for training hard. As a student, he has a lot of free time, so he dedicates most of it to Hearthstone. One of the most important lessons he’s learnt is to calm down and manage his emotions well because he cannot think when he’s too stressed. For example, during the Campus Game Fest at ITE College Central in a match against heisnotaxel, he didn’t realise that he had lethal in his hand until the rope started. Thankfully, he saw it eventually and finished his opponent off just before the rope ended his turn.

When asked what he thought of the GameForge team, Mikkel commented that they were still small and that they had much to improve upon. He felt that the team should train together more often, not only to improve their skills but also to strengthen bonds and friendships. Mikkel appreciates the Global Friendly Series and has played in all of them except against MiTH, a team from Thailand. He would like to play against Team Abyssus in the future.

One question Mikkel was asked was what changes he would make or would like to see in Hearthstone, to which he immediately answered: “Reduce RNG”. RNG refers to luck based cards and effects, and stands for Random Number Generator, a function used by digital games to determine random outcomes. By reducing RNG, the overall skill level of players would have to increase, making the game more competitive. He would also like to see some form of active interaction on your opponent’s turn, similar to how instants and abilities work in Magic: The Gathering. Mikkel also disagrees with the having formats such as Standard and Wild as he supports buffing or nerfing existing cards, but since Blizzard has already implemented rotation, he’d like to see some expansion cards be shifted into Classic, so that they can become evergreen.

Random fun facts about Mikkel:
His favourite class is Druid.
He enjoys playing tempo and midrange decks.
He finds the Singapore Shit Post giant very amusing.

And here are some of Mikkel’s tips for new players and players trying to get to Legend:

1. Find a coach
Having someone guide you is very important as he or she can see things from a different perspective. Often when you’re playing the game, your vision becomes one dimensional and you may end up misplaying because you didn’t see a certain angle.

2. Think through your turns
Similar to finding a coach, this allows you to consider all possible plays, even if you’re playing a mindless cancer/smorc deck.

3. Ingrain good fundamental habits
Good habits like thinking through your turns are hard to form, but once you ingrain them, you can save a lot of time in higher level plays because you will instinctively know what to do next.

-Jace

Ingress – CBD Mission Series

Hey guys, here’s another mission series I did: the CBD Mission Series created by Resistance player Sharkzy!

01 CBD Complete Mission

Mission Series notes:
– Consists of 24 missions, all hacking and about one passphrase per mission
– All mission waypoints can be completed in any order
– Missions are arranged in alphabetical order, so just follow the mission titles starting with CBD Adventure and CBD Bank, all the way to CBD Zone (there’s no mission K or X)
– It’s a really long walk. You’ll go from Fullerton Hotel -> Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) -> Merlion Park -> down Fullerton road -> follow the river bank to Bayfront side -> up to the ArtScience Museum -> across the Helix Bridge -> and then around the Singapore Flyer.
– If you, like us, parked near the start point, it’s a 25-30min walk back once you’ve completed the series.
– We took nearly three hours to complete the mission series, not including the walk back to the car

SPOILER ALERT: Answers to all passphrase waypoints will be shown below. Turn back now if you don’t want to know.

Dad parked on Phillip St, because we drove around and couldn’t find any other parking spots. That itself was actually a good distance from the first mission. We started at 11.30pm and finished only at about 2.15am. By the time we walked back to the car, it was 2.45am and we ended up sleeping at about 3.30am.

Sigh.
The things we do for Ingress…

Anyway, the first two missions were all hacking missions. Do take note that you may have some trouble getting two of the portals in CBD Bank, because they’re actually inside Fullerton hotel. If you can’t wait and drift about, then here’s the solution: go into Fullerton hotel (to enjoy the aircon for a bit), then sign into Wireless at Fullerton wifi and set your GPS to high accuracy. It’s free and you’ll be able to get the last two portals.

CBD Caper had the first passphrase.
02 CBD Caper Passphrase

03 CBD Caper Answer

Also note that, at the time we did this, missions D to J had some construction work going on, so it was quite difficult to manoeuvre around the site to get the missions. Please do be careful and be hyper aware of your surroundings, especially if you go at night like we did.

CBD Deed
04 CBD Deed Passphrase

05 CBD Deed Answer

CBD Feat
06 CBD Feat Passphrase

07 CBD Feat Answer

CBD Gamble
08 CBD Gamble Passphrase

09 CBD Gamble Answer

CBD Jeopardy has one Visit Waypoint and this is around Merlion Park. Remember that there’s no Mission K, so just move on to CBD Limit. The next few missions were all hacking waypoints, but this part has the most walking. You’ve got to walk down and around the river bank to get to Bayfront area. Along the way, I managed to get my Platinum Translator Medal!

10 Translator Medal

And here’s a shot of two lines of the mission complete! Halfway though.
11 Two Lines Complete

Once you get to Bayfront, CBD Peril starts the passphrase thing up again.

CBD Peril
12 CBD Peril Passphrase

13 CBD Peril Answer

CBD Romp
14 CBD Romp Passphrase

15 CBD Romp Answer

CBD Stunt
16 CBD Stunt Passphrase

17 CBD Stunt Answer

Okay this mission was quite interesting. It starts at the ArtScience Museum, then takes you over the Helix Bridge. There aren’t any portals on the bridge itself, so put away your device for a bit and enjoy the walk over. When you reach the other side, there’s a whole cluster of portals, which will be very tempting to blast and hack and capture.

DO NOT HACK THEM YET. Focus on completing the missions, because I stupidly hacked them and had to wait for them to cooldown before I could hack for CBD Trial. Interestingly, the passphrase provides a clue if you make this mistake. Not a lot of people realize that if you deploy a Heat Sink (regardless of rarity), it completely resets the burnout counter on a portal. When I first found out about this several months ago, I used to deploy a rare Multi-Hack on my home portal, hack it 12 times over an hour or so, then deploy a common Heat Sink immediately after the 12th hack to hack it again.

So don’t cast aside common Heat Sinks. Stock them up when you do missions, just in case you make the mistake of hacking a non-mission portal that turns out to be a waypoint for the next mission.

Also, I leveled up to Level 14!
18 Level 14

And we’re three quarters of the way through now.
19 Three Lines Complete

CBD Undertaking has two passphrases (I hope you paid attention when I said to enjoy the walk over the Helix Bridge)
20 CBD Undertaking Passphrase 1

21 CBD Undertaking Answer 1

The answer for this can actually be found on the plaques in the area. Go treasure hunt a bit, if you don’t want to see the answer here.
22 CBD Undertaking Passphrase 2

23 CBD Undertaking Answer 2

CBD Venture (Math involved!) I kinda guessed the answer to this one and just chose 1.2M to start. I got lucky XD
24 CBD Venture Passphrase

25 CBD Venture Answer

There’s no Mission X, so move on to CBD Walk. The last few missions takes you around Singapore Flyer and back to the portal cluster. And that’s the end of that.

26 CBD Mission Complete

-Jace

Old Brunei Hostel

I initially submitted this as a guest post to The London Traceur’s blog six weeks ago, but they haven’t replied at all, nor have they had a new post since May. Ah well, here it is anyway.

01 Old Brunei Hostel

This is Old Brunei Hostel, an abandoned location claimed back by nature’s grip. It may not be the first place you’d think of as a parkour spot in Singapore, but we make do with what we have. At least it’s out of the way of the disapproving eyes of most of the public.

This place caters to both nature lovers and people who prefer to navigate the concrete jungle. The grass is so overgrown that it provides a soft landing when you’re vaulting over railings and barriers and jumping down from higher levels. The dilapidated buildings provide much to explore, climb, run and jump about in.

02 Jump

It’s quite out of the way and I don’t go there very often myself. But it’s peaceful most of the time because barely anyone else goes. Even if there are others around, there’s always a spot to train at. You can leave your stuff in one part and explore the whole place at leisure without worrying too much about your things being stolen. I’m not saying you should do that, but you could if you wanted to.

Anyway, how to get there: It’s almost a straight walk up from Redhill MRT Station. It might be a bit far for some people to walk, but that does provide a nice warm up before you actually start training. Here’s a map.

03 How to get there

Old Brunei Hostel is really big and there’s so much space to explore. You could even have a picnic or camp out there, though I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s no electricity, no running water and barely any life nearby. Also, it’s quite creepy if you stay there after the sun goes down.

04 Creepy Building

See?

My personal favourite things to practice there are pop vaults, wall climbs and generally just running around, being as creative as I can while I run. This wall is about 1.6m and has a nice run up. It’s where I do my pop vaults and wall movements, a la Assassin’s Creed.

05 Pop Vault Area

There are also open air stair cases which allow you to practice climbs and drops, like this one.

06 Open Air Staircase

You’ll probably want to go there in the earlier half of the year, before the monsoon season when it’s hot and dry, as this place can become a mosquito breeding ground. There aren’t any caretakers as far as I know, so no one clears any stagnant water.

If you do visit, remember to bring lots of liquids as there are no nearby stalls to buy drinks or snacks from. Also, I promise that you will get dirty if you train hard there, so do bring a spare change of clothes. Track pants or sweat pants are recommended even if it isn’t mosquito season, as the pants will give you at least some protection from grazes and cuts. There are lots of plants, wooden doors and planks to get splinters from, so do bring a pair of gloves as well.

Have fun!

-Jace

Tough Times

This was something I did for LOLA that never got published. Here it is anyway.

Procrastination is bad. Everyone knows that. Yet how many of us have put off doing things in our lives? I’m sure almost all of us have done so at least once. Haven’t you ever put off, say, confessing to your crush because the time just wasn’t right?

Well, here are my personal guidelines to four events in love and dating that you might find useful if you don’t have your own, or at the very least, amusing.

When do you confess to your crush?
Let’s start with this, because every relationship starts with this. It’s a scary notion; the thought of confessing and then finding out that your crush doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, or worse, realizing that you didn’t feel as strongly as you thought you did. The nervousness is perfectly normal and part and parcel of life.

01 Confess to your crush

Personally, I usually give myself about 2-3 months after I realize that I have feelings for a girl. It’s just enough time for me evaluate whether or not I actually like her. Sometimes, the infatuation does fade away and I’m glad I didn’t do anything, but if the feeling of attraction persists, then I will make a move. Of course, most of the time I get rebuffed, but that’s just me. The point is: I’m able to move on instead of prolonging the agonizing period of deciding what to do. If I get rejected, I know for sure that that door is closed and I can refocus my energies elsewhere.

This is in no way limited to just guys. Girls can and should take action and confess to their crushes as well, if they feel strongly enough. Gender quality, you know?

When do you move to kiss a girl?
This one is tricky. Of course there are so many factors that affect this, so I can’t provide a firm answer. I have come across one guide that says you should move to kiss her at the end of the first or second date, depending on your boldness, your connection and chemistry you feel.

02 First Kiss

The trick is to move to kiss her on her forehead instead of her mouth or cheek, like a goodnight kiss. If she tilts her head upwards, she’s more likely to accept a mouth kiss, and if she tilts her head down, it means she’s not ready. Either way, forehead kisses build trust.

If you’re still not sure about a kiss, then here’s something funny I came across. Keep a pack of Hershey’s Kisses in your bag then ask her: “Do you want a kiss?” or “Can I give you a kiss?” Judging her reaction then, you’ll be able to tell if you should go for it or not. If she’s not ready, then pull out the chocolates and say (with a cheeky smile), “Are you sure?” At the very least, it’ll be something humorous you two can laugh over. Have fun with this one. 😀

When do you “cut loss”?
I’m sure many, if not all, of us have deal breakers; character traits and/or habits of a person that make you backpedal quickly and go “Nope, sorry, you ain’t the one for me.” Super turn offs that you just can’t live with; like smoking is a deal breaker for me. But it’s always hard to tell the other party because you don’t want to come across as a playboy that flings girls aside when he’s bored or a heartless bitch that likes to toy with guys. Especially if you were the one who initiated the relationship.

03 Deal Breaker

However, if it really is a deal breaker for you, then you ought to call it off immediately. You know that a relationship between you would never work, so stop wasting time and just end it. Of course, be tactful and let him or her down gently. And be gracious enough to do it face to face. In this modern world of Facebook and WhatsApp, it’s so convenient to take the easy way out and break up over a message or a phone call. But that’s shallow and insincere, totally not cool at all.

Don’t be that guy or girl.

Yes, it’s really uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t do it immediately, the discomfort stays with you for however long it takes you to tell the other party. It just makes so much more sense to do it ASAP; you don’t waste any more time and you both can get over it and move on.

When do you propose?
This one is just for fun; I don’t have any actual first-hand experience, obviously. It’s just a combination of things I’ve read about and my own thoughts and opinions.

04 Ring in Hand

For me, I decided on seven years. Seven years of knowing a woman, not necessarily dating her or being in a relationship, but actually spending time together and getting to know her, be it one on one, a workplace or through multiple social gatherings.

I picked that number because I read somewhere that, every seven years, all the cells in your body are totally replaced (except brain cells). So essentially, you’re a new person with new cells. Makes sense; you’re not the same person you were seven years ago right? I thought it was a cool idea, whether or not it was true, so I took seven years as a guideline. I believe that if a couple can work through a major change such as this, then they’d be really tight and able to work through any more obstacles life throws at them.

Remember that all of the above are just guides, something to reference if you don’t have a plan of your own. I find it easier to start off with a guide and then make your own changes along the way. But, no matter what, procrastinating something only makes facing it harder later on. To quote Apollo in Rocky: “There is no tomorrow!!!”

-Jace