Reading the Patterns

My wife plays ball hockey, I play ice hockey.  She plays in a rec league, I play in men’s competitive and one group for pickup.  She’s adamant that the nicest man on the planet turns into an ape once you put a hockey stick in their hands.  I am not one to disagree.

The concept of competiveness for me is deeply associated with scope.  Rec/pickup is meant to just have fun and socialize.  At the end of the game, you’re going to see the opponents and have a beer with them.  It doesn’t make sense to take a whack at their knees.  Sometimes the blood boils, I get it, but it still strikes me as odd.  I know personally I tend to laugh the entire game, though there are certainly bouts of open frustration when you hit a string of bad luck.

Competitive though, that’s a different ball game.  You don’t usually have a beer with the opponents, so there’s certainly some bad blood that brews between both sides, usually just a couple players though.  The expectations are different as well.  It’s not so much about winning, because you can’t win them all.  It is however about trying.

I play on 3 teams, one of which has a much lower skill average than the others.  Well, to a degree I suppose.  The team itself is in a division of equally skilled players, so at the end it often turns into a meetup of mistakes.  Players who put effort, regardless of their skill set, build some level of confidence and improve – those that coast are really just spectators in the game.  That part really grinds my gears something fierce.

Skill is an interesting topic, if I can take a small tangent.  I remember a study where chess masters were presented a board for a few seconds and then it was hidden.  They then were able to replicate the board, piece for piece, without fail.  They did this because these were boards of actual games, where strategies were applied.  They tried again with boards that were setup by kids who didn’t know any of the rules, and few of the masters were able to copy the boards.  The lack of skill/understanding removed all patterns from the game.   Sports are a lot like this.  There is a certain pattern to a well-played game, and you can see this in most professional sports.  No look passes are a great example.  People just know where to be.  When you remove skill from that equation…the patterns go away.  It makes for rough going sometimes.

Greater Rifts

Following a bit on the theme of patterns, at higher GR levels, there are specific movement & skill patterns that need to be applied.  You can just go Rambo at the lower levels and bulldoze your way through but on the higher tiers, you’re going to suck floor.

The WD has an interesting pattern in GRs compared to Monks.  Depending on the gear set, you have more or less control of what’s going on.  Getting large packs together is harder, as your movement skills are a fair bit limited.  Using mimics (Grin Reaper) further complicates this, as they randomly cast their spells.  I understand the basic elements but the complex movements are still a learning process.  When to use the Wall, when and where to use Bears, when to use Haunt.  It’s all a neat little dance.  When it works out, you feel rewarded.  When it doesn’t, you feel cheated or pretty dumb.

The Monk on the other hand…you just flit around the screen massing up big piles of enemies.  You snapshot a decent EP, then learn to spread it in the group.  There’s more circling involved, a lot of quick jabs to keep the buffs up, but the actual skill use is simple.  Press SSS and things blow up.  I mean it sounds simple, and on paper it is, but in practice you need to get the timing down.

I like the challenge greater rifts apply here.  There’s more granular control on the difficulty than simply jumping up Torment levels and a much higher skill cap.  I think GR82 is the current record for group play, which would put it somewhere near uh, T 15 I guess?  I know that at GR60 a regular enemy has over triple the health of a guardian in a TX rift.  So finding the pattern of the class you’re playing is as important, if not more than the actual stats on your gear.  It’s a neat balancing act.

Wildstar

Still a huge queue, though I was able to log into my housing plot for 5 minutes before bed.  UI is the same as before, with a small (very small) item shop button.  Need to play through some more, fingers crossed it works tonight!

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