Archive for April, 2013

First Round Playoff Predictions …

April 30, 2013

So, I tried this last year and then forgot to update for the second round, but I’m going to try it again. My pick will be in bold.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh vs NY Islanders. Correct
Montreal vs Ottawa Correct
Washington vs NY Rangers Correct
Boston vs Toronto Correct

I like the Islanders, but they really don’t stand much of a chance against Pittsburgh, even if Crosby can’t return.

I’m also a fan of the Senators, but in this case this series really does depend on goaltending. Ottawa doesn’t score a lot, but they give up very few goals as well, and aren’t likely to start giving up more now that Anderson has come back and seems to be playing well. That leaves a lot of close games, and Ottawa has played in and won a ton of them, and Ottawa always plays well when they are the underdog.

The sixth spot in the East is the position everyone wants to get because you end up facing a weaker team. Washington, despite the resurgence of Ovechkin, just doesn’t have the team to beat the Rangers.

Toronto did well to make it into the playoffs this year, but they are a vulnerable team, and Boston is a strong team that’s been fighting to be the best the whole season and has a lot of experience in the playoffs.

Western Conference

Chicago vs Minnesota Correct
Anaheim vs Detroit Correct
Vancouver vs San Jose Incorrect
St. Louis vs Los Angeles Correct

Chicago had a tremendous season and has experience. Minnesota might give them a run, but in the end Chicago should prevail.

Detroit had to go on a tear to get into the playoffs, and has a lot of experience at this. Anaheim has had some good runs and also some crashes in the playoffs. Detroit should be able to ride their momentum and experience to get through the first round.

San Jose is noted for not doing well in the playoffs, and Vancouver has some experience and two good goaltenders. They should be able to take that to the second round.

St. Louis and LA are pretty much a dead heat, but LA are the defending champions and that experience should carry them through.c

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No, the blog is not dead …

April 29, 2013

… or even dying. I’ve been fairly busy with work and things lately, and so haven’t had the time to make new posts, hence the dearth of new posts. However, things should be getting better over the next few weeks and I intend to get back into posting more often starting in early May.

So stay tuned.

From “Meh” to “Crap!” …

April 10, 2013

So, since I was feeling so “Meh” towards Disgaea 2, I decided to start playing Growlanser II. And I enjoyed it a lot more than Disgaea 2, because while the story had humour in it, the game seemed far more focused and consistent in tone than Disgaea 2. I pushed through it a lot and eventually saved after one part where the MC had to do a fight alone and used up all his MP and then headed on to the next battle … which was a massive boss battle. Which I was underlevelled for. So the immediate answer would be to simply level up a little more — as I did for other battles — and then tackle it. Except that about the only way I knew to recharge MP was at an inn … and the game had cut me off from the previous areas and, more importantly, from towns with inns. And I only had one save, and the auto-save had advanced past that point. So, my choices were to restart the game from the beginning or to ditch it. I was tempted to restart — since the game was fun enough — but then something came along that freed up my TV from the thrall of “Dark Shadows”, and so I decided instead to move on to “Mass Effect”. Which I started last night, getting only to the first combat scene with my character based on Helena Cain from the new Battlestar Galactica (whom, I guess, will end up going Renegade as I walk through the series).

So, let me talk a bit about Growlanser II, and compare it a bit to games in the same vein like Disgaea 2 and Record of Agarest War. Unlike the latter two, Growlanser II is based around random encounters to gain XP. So in order to level up, you generally have to walk around a lot to trigger encounters that you can then win to get XP, while in both of the other games you can basically trigger fights as you want them. So, Growlanser II is a bit annoying that way. It’s also annoying that you don’t gain very much XP from winning fights, but from attacking and killing things in the fights. This is actually a fairly nice way to generate XP … except that if you have one character that is better at doing that — Hans was that for me, with rapid attacks that did a lot of damage to weaker characters — they will gain XP a lot faster than anyone else. Add to it that for magic-focused characters for even remotely even fights you aren’t going to put them into the front lines to attack anyone, that means that you need them to cast spells to get XP. But casting spells takes time and uses MP. Which means that you’ll have to go to inns to pay to get that restored. Which is a bit annoying when for the small fights you’re in, you may not need to use spells, but need to just to level characters up. And if the enemies are weaker, the stronger characters might kill them too quickly for the other characters to get attacks off, especially if they have ranged attacks. Unless you just sit them out of the fight, of course. But that might make the fight too hard. So it’s a bit of a conundrum.

That being said, the fights are challenging and will require a knowledge of tactics and a use of the proper equipment without being as overwhelming on it and presenting as overwhelming a set of choices as Record of Agarest War, which is why I was able to proceed so far in it. The story is interesting enough, although it often seems a bit rushed, with major events starting and then ending in a very short period of in-game time. And there are a lot of character interactions to explore that you might miss if you don’t stop to check everything out. But it is interesting enough and certainly moves along quickly enough that you don’t get bored, and it is definitely a game that I will pick up again at some point in the future.