https://imgur.com/a/lq6ujAW Okay so maybe it isn't the MOST hated but I feel like this car gets a lot of flack from members of this community. All you hear about is how it is under powered and sounds like crap compared to the 918. My C8 order is likely a year out due to Covid and the strike so I wanted to get another car to throw on my Turo account. Now I've driven a base 981 and a 981 GT4 and they are amazing cars no doubt but I can happily say that I enjoy driving this one ALMOST as much as my buddy's GT4. Would I rather have the GT4? Of course! But I picked up this thing CPO for 44k and he bought his for 105k. I'd much rather put that extra money in my pocket. Yes the exhaust does not sound as great as the flat 6 but I honestly really enjoy the sound. It sounds harsh and raspy but it still definitely sounds like it means the business. The handling is sublime and on the street I don't notice a huge difference between it and the GT4 (besides the ride comfort). I drove this thing back 9 hours from Miami and my back didn't hurt at all, in my e90 M3 I couldn't go more than 2 hours without stopping. The PDK transmission is fantastic and while I do miss rowing my own gears like in my S2000 it does so much better in Atlanta traffic. I would probably have gotten a manual but considering I want to attract as many renters as possible I figured PDK was the best bet. Manual mode shifts are instantaneous and it makes just enough cracks and pops to not be obnoxious. With a tune (50 hp, 50tq increase) and exhaust this thing will be just about perfect. The power is there and it pulls almost as hard as my M3 but of course you can never have too much power. The brakes are adequate but when they need replaced I will get something a little beefier. The only negative I have is that there is a delay in first gear when you first get going. It takes about a second for the car to register the pedal is to the floor and the turbo spins up. Really sucks when you are trying to pull out into traffic. I'm hoping the tune will fix it. Hope you guys enjoy the pictures and if you're near Atlanta hit me up for a discount! *edit* mixed up some numbers!
Day Two Here Day Three Here Gettysburg is by far my favorite battle of all time. First, it is an all-American battle in an all-American war, and myself being an old school nationalist it carries significance that other battles simply don’t; I may find Austerlitz or Stalingrad nifty, but nobody there was my people. More, it was an extraordinarily clean fight. At any point, a soldier on either side could hurl down their rifle and grab some sky and be reasonably assured of having their surrender accepted without reservation, and for that matter their captor could rely on their new POWs to trudge back to the rear under light guard in good faith. Even though much of the fighting took place in an urban environment with embedded civilians, only one civilian died in the fighting. Let me tell you, the more military history you read up on, the clearer it is that massacring civilians before, during, and after a rough fight is par for the course. One might even say that butchering unarmed men, women and children of the enemy tribe is the de facto military objective more than half the time; it might be some weird, half instinctual, proto-game theory going on: “We told them to surrender or else. They didn’t surrender, we won anyway, and now there’s gotta be an ‘or else’ to persuade the next batch of holdouts that we mean business.” In the long run, butchering the first village usually made it morelikely the next three villages would get the message and surrender without a fight, saving the invaders men, materiel, and time. Or perhaps it’s that killing civilians has always been pure bloody-mindedness. But not at Gettysburg. Gettysburg is where the American platonic ideal of soldiers fighting soldiers and leaving the civilians be actually happened. Another aspect to the battle that fascinates me is how utterly unplanned it was. Neither army had intended to fight there, and between the scale of the brawl, the rapidity of developments, the intransigence of their subordinates, and the communications lag, neither the Confederate general Lee nor the Union general Meade had a grip on the situation at all until the second day of the battle, and neither could enact their ideal plans until the third day. It was something of a clusterfuck for both sides, and the course of the battle depended on the initiative and guts of small unit commanders with little idea of what the big picture was. Gettysburg tends to be remembered as the turning point in the war, when it stopped being a gallant passage at arms between roughly equal powers and started being a slow, painful inevitable grind towards Union victory. This is not exactly accurate; only with years of hindsight could anybody construct a narrative that framed this fight as the turning point, for at the time Gettysburg was seen as just another grisly slaughter yard in a long series of them. Still, between this fight and the conquest of Vicksburg out west, this does appear in hindsight to be the high watermark in terms of Confederate progress towards successful seccession. Certainly it was the last time any Confederate army went on the strategic offensive. For diehard secessionists (both during the war and in the years after), this was the last hurrah before the war started being truly hopeless. It is also, I should mention, a place of spiritual significance for me. Myself being secular humanist with a vaccination against Protestantism from my younger days, I don’t have much in the way of codified religion. But when I was a youngin’ visiting relatives out east, I got to visit the battlefield. I found myself standing in front of a monument on the field on the north end of Herbst Wood (where the right flank of Iron Brigade stood and charged on the first day of the battle). It described how a Michigan regiment of about a thousand men stood on that spot and suffered two thirds casualties over the course of the day. I read the details on the monument, and stared up at the mustachioed rifleman staring defiantly to the west. Looking left and right, I saw more monuments every fifty yards or so in a straightish line, spreading out to mark where a human line had once stood and bled. And I turned my back on the monuments to face away, and behold, I saw an opposing line of Confederate monuments stretched out horizon to horizon about a hundred yards away. Two lines, violently opposed but unmoving; courage and horror frozen into place forever. And the world there seemed very big, and very grand, and I felt very small and unworthy. The air was at once colder and hotter than any air I’d ever felt. The wind cut through my clothing and reminded me that flesh was mortal but spirit was eternal. This was holy ground, soil consecrated by blood. Shi’ite Muslims have Karbala. Catholics have the Road to Calvary. Australian aboriginals have Uluru. I have Gettysburg. ———————————————————————— BACKGROUND A brief note- I will be including maps periodically to show the progression of the fighting. These maps must be taken with a grain or three of salt. They are intended to show relations between the armies and the terrain, not to mark the exact positions or dispositions of the units, nor to show an exact proportion of numbers involved. This is because I am not an expert mapmaker, and I thank you in advance for your understanding. First, a map of the northern part of the battlefield. Note how many roads lead there, and note the high ground of Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill to the south of the town. The Battle of Gettysburg happened because Lee needed to go on the offensive, and Lee needed to go on the offensive because of the big picture. I shall cover the broad outline just so the significance doesn’t pass anybody by. The Confederacy in the Spring of 1863 was in a terrible dilemma. The leadership had two urgent problems, either one of which could (if unaddressed) destroy their enterprise, and to make things worse they didn’t have the resources to solve either of them alone without a miracle. One, the Union was fixing to shove yet another army down Richmond’s throat. Two years of failed invasions into Virginia had been brutal to both sides, but the North had immense reserves of cash, food, industrial output, and manpower with which to replenish themselves, and the South simply didn’t. The Army of Northern Virginia on which every invasion thus far had broken was underarmed, underfed, and undermanned, and if these issues were not fixed then they’d be seeing Union soldiers in the Confederate capitol before Autumn. There had already been a push that year, which Lee had staved off at Chancellorsville. There was plenty of time left before winter for a second attack. And two, Vicksburg, the railway hub that sat on the Mississippi River, was under dire threat. The Union had already grabbed New Orleans at the south end and pushed north up the river, and had been pushing south down the river since day one of the war, but Vicksburg prevented the whole river from falling in to Union hands. Vicksburg alone let the South shift resources and information from its Western half to its Eastern half. Losing it could be a death blow. The garrison of Vicksburg was also underarmed, underfed, and undermanned. The fresh crops taken off the farm and the fresh host of new recruits also taken off the farm were middling at best. Even throwing all the resources they had at either problem and letting the other develop as it would might mean losing on both fronts. Splitting the resources in half to prop up both didn’t seem promising either. Lee, being something of a strategist, developed a third option. There was no point (he reasoned) in trying to prop up Vicksburg at this point- it would take weeks to shift reinforcements that far west, and by then it would be midsummer. If the siege lasted that long, either the garrison would fold or disease would rip through the Yankee army and drive it back home, as it had the last two years running. In either scenario, further support would affect nothing. Therefore, he proposed a bold plan- don’t sit around waiting to get hit in the face. Invade north. Take the fight onto their turf. The more the Confederate leadership considered it, the better it sounded. Northern land hadn’t been ravaged like Virginia had- it would be easy to live off of the enemy’s food for once, thus lessening the headache of their constant supply problems. It was also an election year, and the anti-war Democrats were raging at the ocean of blood and gold being wasted on bringing States back into the fold who very clearly wanted to go their own way. One good, solid victory on Northern soil could tip the balance, drive home the point that that war was unwinnable. Get the Black Republican warmonger Lincoln kicked out of the White House, get a reasonable Democrat in, and next year they just might get a negotiated peace that would lead in time to true and recognized independence. To which end- Lee snaked his newly reinforced army of about 75,000 men up through the Shenandoah Valley, using the mountain range to mask his movements instead of using to well-worn direct route that the Union was camped on. He would end up north of the bulk of the Army of the Potomac, simultaneously threatening Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, which for a guy trying to score a symbolic victory to discourage the enemy voters put him in a pretty nice spot. Lincoln freaked out, told Hooker and his Army of the Potomac to go out and beat Lee, to utterly destroy his army, and also not leave any weak point undefended, which are just the kind of orders one enjoys receiving. Hooker, having a bit of an ego and a poor history of getting his ass kicked by Lee, got into a feud with Lincoln’s advisors and impulsively offered his resignation as Commander of the Army of the Potomac following some stupid spat with the bean counters back in Washington. Lincoln called his bluff and fired him three days before the battle, putting General Meade in charge of the whole damn army with almost no prep time. I should cut the narrative here to cast moral aspersions right quick. The Union were the good guys, and the Confederates were the villains. That said, the North made for really terrible heroes, and the South had more than its fair share of virtues. This was not a grand crusade of freedom-loving Yankees tearing down the moral abomination of human bondage. This was a brutal, no holds barred death struggle between the efficient new urban Industrial Revolution and the rural Cavalierlatifundias. Only a smallish segment of New England Puritans and bleeding heart Quakers hated slavery on moral grounds- the rest of the North either hated it on financial grounds, didn’t give a fuck one way or another, or were actively supporting racial slavery. And on the flip side, most Southerners who fought in the war perceived quite accurately that outsiders were coming into their world to demand submission, and had decided to give these invaders the William Wallace treatment. This is a normal and admirable response that every healthy society should have in its toolbox, and in my not-even-slightly humble opinion it is a damn shame that so many people endured so much agony in support of so un-American a cause. For you see, when Lee’s army reached Pennsylvania, they kidnapped every black person they could find, free or not, and sent them all south in chains. There was no attempt to ascertain their status by some legal due process, no splitting of hairs. The bare skeleton of Confederate ideology, the great Truth that would have snuffed out by continued political loyalty to the Union, had been that all men were not created equal. To be more precise, men had white skin, and anyone with black skin was not a man and did not have the rights of man. As such, anyone with black skin was to be sold into slavery and threatened with torture and death if they refused to labor in the cotton fields. The army that invaded the North was, in practice, the biggest slave-hunting gang that had ever set foot on American soil. The side wearing grey were staunch defenders of a country based on the Ideal of Ethnic Supremacy, and the side wearing blue were fighting for a country based on the Ideal of Equality. There were a million nagging features of material reality in the South and the North that challenged both of these Ideals, but there were no Ideals to challenge these Ideals, save only for each other. We know that this is true, because as the war shifted away from a Federal attempt to rein in wayward states to an all out assault on the institution of slavery, more and more Northerners balked at the idea of dying to set niggers free; men who had fought for years to bring the rebels into the fold again threw down their rifles and went home in disgust after they heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. And as it became clearer that poor whites who never owned slaves were expected to die for plantation owners’ right to stay rich, fewer and fewer Southerners were willing to jump into the meat grinder feet first; many of them deserted to go home and form Unionist bushwhacker gangs instead. Speaking of the draft, a higher percentage of southerners dodged the Confederate draft than in Vietnam, yet Vietnam is remembered as a deeply unpopular war while the Lost Cause has painted the South as a unified bloc striving as one against the Yankee oppressor. Also, the Confederacy had a draft imposed upon the states by its federal government. So, yeah, State's Rights. Tell me how that worked out. To reiterate. Both sides are not the same. We are rooting for the Union. Slavery. Etc. Pushing on- The two armies surged northward, on parallel tracks with Lee on the west side of the Appalachians and Meade on the east side. Being critically low on recon drones and spy satellites, the only ways to find the enemy army was to send guys out on horseback to physically look at them before riding back, and to talk to locals whether they’d seen anyone wearing the other team’s uniform recently. Clouds of skirmishers, cavalrymen, and small detachments of infantrymen from either side scattered themselves in all directions, straining to catch a glimpse of the other army. The first side to locate the enemy, amass sufficient force, and maneuver against them would probably win, without regard for right or wrong. ———————————————————————— JULY 1st, 1863 Early Morning General John Buford had a 2,500 strong brigade of cavalrymen patrolling southern Pennsylvania, being one of dozens of detachments sent out to find the enemy army. Using human intelligence from locals in Gettysburg, he learned that there was a column of rebel infantry marching down the Chambersburg Pike. And indeed there was. Advance scouts from Buford’s brigade made visual contact with a column marching south towards Gettysburg. The ball was now rolling. The story goes that the Confederates were looking for new shoes and heard that there was a stockpile in Gettysburg. As far as I can tell, this is a baseless legend- inspired by the true fact that the rebel army didn’t have enough shoes, but baseless nonetheless. The three Confederate commanders marching towards Gettysburg (Archer and Davis with a brigade apiece and Heth as division commander coordinating them), were simply doing what their counterpart was doing- reconnaissance in force, hoping to develop a lead for the rest of the army to follow. 7,000 infantry under Archer and Davis were about to pick a fight with 2,500 cavalrymen under Buford. The currents of this morning fight would provide the grooves for the next three days to follow. Buford’s men fought as dragoons; the horse let you scoot around to where you need to go, but you got off it and fought on foot. They Union cavalry broke into tiny little four man teams to bloody the approaching Confederates’ noses. The terrain was a bushwhacker’s paradise- plenty of rocks and trees to hide behind, and plenty of low, rolling hills to speed off behind to break line of sight. One man would hold the horses while the other three crouch-ran forward under cover to pop off rounds into the enemy column from the sides of the road. When the enemy infantry redeployed from a fast moving but harmless column formation into a slow moving but dangerous line, the three shooters would run back to their buddy to mount up and retreat to a new position. The cavalrymen were outnumbered nearly three to one, and their carbines had less range and power than the rebel rifles; then again, the terrain was working for them and their breechloading carbines could shoot much faster than the enemy’s muzzleloading long rifles. It was very close to being an fair fight, as long as the cavalry could stay mobile and keep their distance. Buford and Heth both had unclear, contradictory orders- “Push forward aggressively to locate the enemy, but do not enter into a general engagement until we know what we’re up against.” It was an order that must have made sense in the tent when Lee and Meade sent their own versions off. You wouldn’t want to force a battle until you knew the enemy’s location and disposition and the terrain you were going to be standing on, any more than you’d want bet it all on a poker hand before looking at your cards. But to the guys on the front line, it meant “charge forward, but do not charge forward. Attack, but do not engage. Show some initiative, but don’t pick a real fight.” Heth decided they were up against a skeleton crew of skirmishers, and he had orders to check out Gettysburg. He send riders back with a quick report and a request for reinforcements. Buford decided that if the whole damn rebel army was heading his way, he needed to delay their advance for as many hours as he could to give the rest of the Union army time to get to Gettysburg- the high ground south of the town looked like ideal terrain to fight from and he wanted his buddies to get there before the rebels. He too sent riders back with calls for help. And meanwhile, the murderous, hazardous stalking of the rebel column continued as it trudged towards Gettysburg. Meanwhile, in the Rear with the Gear Imagine running a marathon- 26 miles and a bit from start to finish. That’s how spread out a Civil War army is, from vanguard to rear guard. You can’t really concentrate 75,000-100,000 people together that closely. Disease starts killing people off really fast, feeding everyone is a headache, and if you have to march out, the lead element will march all day before stopping for the night, while the rear element hasn’t even left camp yet. It’s unwieldy. So they all spread out to grab some real estate and forage easier and not choke on each others’ dust and crap. The riders from the Chambersburg Pike were spreading the word through the marathon length of the armies. Units were halting, turning around. Captains and colonels and generals were consulting maps to figure out what roads to take to get south or north to Gettysburg from where they were now. Regiments were putting their heads to together to figure out whose company oughtta go in what order. The movements were slow and and ungainly and awkward, but they were starting up. Mid Morning to Noon The rolling hills on either side of the Chambersburg Pike stopped at McPherson’s Ridge, a grand place to make a stand- plenty of cover, steep incline. In any case, there wasn’t much further to retreat to. Archer and David pushed the cavalrymen, Archer on the south side of the road and Davis on the north. Thoroughly annoyed infantrymen backed up on the Pike behind them, eager to get at the enemy but without frontage to occupy. Buford dug in on McPherson’s Ridge, and the full force of Heth’s division slammed into him. Denied their mobility by the necessity of holding territory, the fair fight turned into a meat grinder for the dismounted cavalrymen. When Confederate artillery set up on Herr’s Ridge, it turned into a bloodbath. Buford, at last, got in contact with somebody who outranked him. General John Reynolds, second in command of the whole Union army, rode ahead of his division to get eyes on the situation. The two struck a deal in the middle of a firefight. Buford promised to hold to the last man, and Reynolds promised to reinforce him. It was an exercise in trust; if Buford’s men held firm and Reynolds let them down, they’d be swamped and slaughtered to a man, and if Buford’s detachment broke and scattered, Reynolds’ reinforcements would march directly into a line of hills held by an entrenched enemy force of equal size. Failure on either side would be fatal. Reynolds rode south again, leaving Buford and his dwindling cavalrymen to fend off 10% of the Confederate army all alone. Meanwhile, Buford’s thin line was cracking. Outnumbered, outgunned, and unable to advance or retreat... That which was inevitable to start with was happening now. Davis’ brigade was pressing against Oak Ridge on the Union right, and Archer's was taking Herbst Woods tree by tree. Buford’s men were giving ground they couldn’t afford to lose. Confederate artillery was blasting giant holes in the ranks of the defenders. That’s when the relief came- two fresh brigades of infantry coming up the Emmitsburg road, under generals Cutler and Meredith. Cutler got there first, taking up positions on Oak Ridge and straddling either side of the Pike with cannons. Their massive volleys disrupted Confederate momentum and silenced some of the rebels’ big guns as everyone scrambled for cover. Grateful and exhausted cavalrymen sidled off to the flanks to safety. Meredith’s brigade is still lagging behind- that’s the problem with columns, only the guys in front can do anything. If Buford and Reynolds expected everything to be right in the world once reinforcements arrived, they were very much mistaken. Those men out there attacking up Oak Ridge were some of the finest infantrymen in the world- dedicated, disciplined, contemptuous of death. They did not stop being efficient killers just because they now fought peers instead of the hornet-like cavalry skirmishers. Cutler’s brigade was facing a small tidal wave of battle-maddened Southern veterans, and had no time to dig in and situate themselves before the moment of impact. Davis’ men ripped into them like a pack of starving wolves. Cutler’s men fell back to safety on the top of Oak Ridge. In pieces. Meanwhile, Meredith’s brigade was finally in position to retake Herbst Woods on the south side of the road. Now, Meredith’s brigade were the absolute elite of the Union army. They were the grizzled veterans, the old crew, the best drilled, the most experienced, the hardest of the hard. They were nicknamed the Iron Brigade, and the Black Hat Brigade, because they were authorized to wear dashing black foraging caps to signify their status as the best of the best. With their comrades north of the road falling back, it was imperative that the Black Hat Brigade protect their left flank. To which end, Reynolds frantically snapped orders for them to line up and charge Archer’s men who were occupying Herbst Wood. Their charge was met by a storm of musket fire that churned the Iron ranks into blood and guts. But this was the Black Hat Brigade. For them, taking ten percent casualties in a single minute was just another Tuesday. They got in close to the rebel line to return the volleys with a vengeance, and then charged with the bayonet. Archer’s men saw the distinctive black hats come for them through the musket-smoke. For the first time, they realized that these were no mere cavalry skirmishers, no half-assed militia company facing them. The best of the best of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them at terrifyingly close range. Archer’s men cracked and scattered. The ones who stood firm, died. The ones who threw down their rifles and grabbed sky were allowed to live as prisoners. The ones who ran, lived, but found the Iron Brigade hot on their heels. Meredith’s elites carved through Archer’s brigade like it wasn’t even there. Reynolds was a good leader. A great one, in fact. He was decisive, experienced, competent. Many thought he should have gotten command instead of Meade. As his men retook Herbst Wood, he turned behind him to check on how close reinforcements were, some rebel rifleman did his cause a world of good, and shot Reynolds in the back of the head. Now the situation got pretty weird- Davis’ brigade had kicked the shit out of Cutler’s brigade and was pursuing them on the north side of the road, and the Iron Brigade had kicked the shit out of Archer’s brigade and was pursuing them on the south side of the road. Neither victor was aware of what had happened across from them, and soon enough they would pass each other by almost touching the edges of their lines. The first one to figure out what was happening would get to win. As it so happened, General Doubleday (in command now that Reynolds was dead) saw the danger and the opportunity first. He broke off an Iron regiment from his reserve to swoop in and protect the flank just in time, setting them up in a defensive stance facing the road. That regiment was joined by another broken off from the Iron assault, and yet another from Cutler’s brigade, who had seen the maneuvering and joined in on its own initiative. It was like a ballet, all three regiments coalescing into a single front facing north across the road, as though they’d spent the last week rehearsing. Under their protection, the rest of the Black Hats gave chase to their prey. When Davis finally turned and attacked, they were chopped down by a mass of highly accurate fire from the newly entrenched men. Confederates died by the dozens and were maimed by the score. As they reloaded, the Black Hats were astonished to find that the whole Confederate brigade vanish into thin air, like magic. The firing stopped; no more targets. It was bizarre. The three regiments advanced cautiously. And were gutted by a close range surprise volley by the hidden Confederates as they tried to scale the fences on either side of the Pike. It turns out that there was a cut in the side of road, deep enough for a man to jump down into with only his head able to peek out. Davis’ men had leapt into it as a source cover when the firefight started and found it was a grand place to shoot out of. But it was also a death trap. Once the Union regiments figured it out, they got in close enough to fire blindly down at point blank range into the milling mass of men. Davis’ men surrendered, thousands of them all at once. Unable to move, unable shoot back, it was really the only choice. And with that, the first round of Gettysburg was over. Oak Ridge and Herbst Wood had held, and about 150,000 odd soldiers were converging on Gettysburg to shift the tide of war this way and that. AFTERNOON The rest of the first day was not free of drama, and heroics, and mass suffering. But it was free of surprises. The iron laws of physics had decreed that more Confederate units would be on hand for the fighting in the afternoon, and so it was. Fresh rebel troops swept down from the north and from the west, relieving their exhausted comrades and preparing themselves to assault Oak Ridge and Herbst Woods. Fresh Union troops arrived from the south to reinforce what they had and to extend their line out east, protecting their right flank and screening off the town itself. Hours passed without a shot being fired. Everybody was reorganizing themselves, resupplying, carting the wounded to the rear to let the surgeons saw their shattered limbs off. Two small things happened that delivered a Confederate victory on day one, and a Union victory on day three. Union General Barlow pushed his brigade out to occupy Blocher's hill, and Union General Steinwehr plopped two of his brigades on top of Cemetery Hill. The first created a huge gap in the Union right, and the second secured the invaluable high ground for the rest of the battle. Meanwhile, three Confederate divisions set themselves up for a concerted attack- Heth would press into Herbst Wood on the Union left, Rodes would assault Oak Ridge at the center, and Early would swoop down the Harrisburg road to threaten the Union right. When the big push came at around 2 p.m., it was badly organized and mismanaged. Southern commanders couldn't get it together and attack at the same time. Individual units charged at Oak Ridge alone, like a mob of Hollywood henchmen attacking the hero only to be smacked around one by one. Cutler's men didn't just fight them off; it was closer to mass murder. General O'Neal's brigade swooped down off of Oak Hill only to be cut down by musketry and cannon fire, and they did it without O'Neal, because O'Neal stayed in the rear while his men died. When O'Neal's brigade fell back having suffered heavy losses, Cutler shifted his men to greet the new threat from Iverson's brigade, who also charged without their commander. Iverson's men marched in parade perfect order across open ground, without so much as a molehill for cover. The story goes that during the assault, Iverson looked out from safety and saw half his men lying down on the ground. Iverson was pissed off because he thought his men were surrendering. In fact, he was watching his brigade die in droves. The issue wasn't morale. The Confederate troops were eager to get at the enemy. The problem was purely organizational in nature. The men in charge of telling people what to do were simply too confused and disoriented to work out the solution in real time. While O’Neal and Iverson were getting bloodied, Barlow’s men on Blocher Hill were getting slaughtered. Barlow’s desire to hold the high ground on the defense was understandable- high ground being a grand place to fight from- but he was about one mile ahead of any friendly units. This meant that it was trivially easy to flank and destroy his brigades. Georgia men under generals Early and Rodes linked up to flank and destroy Barlow’s isolated brigades. A thick stream of filthy, bloody, and terrified Union men flowed back to the town of Gettysburg, leaving a gaping hole in the Union line and spreading their panic like the plague. Victorious Confederates whooped and hollered. As the men to the north of town trade massacres- the failed assault on Oak Ridge being roughly balanced by the disastrous dissolution of Barlow’s brigades- Heth finally attacked the Iron Brigade still occupying Herbst Wood in the west. He’d been delaying it all afternoon, stymied by the contradictory orders from Lee. Lee, who was several miles away and not at all in touch with the situation, still wanted to avoid a general engagement. But now, Heth has been let off the chain to avenge Archer’s brigade. Heth’s full division attacked Herbst Wood. It was a slow, hot, gory fight. The attacking rebels are aggressive, but also methodical and well-organized. The Black Hats made them pay for every tree they seized. But there’s only one outcome for a fight like this. The Iron Brigade has the ghastly honor of having the highest casualty ratio of any Civil War brigade, North or South. Out of the 1,885 men in their ranks that morning, 1,153 (61%) were be dead or maimed by nightfall on the first day. The fates of individual units from within the brigade are even more gruesome- in the 2nd Wisconsin regiment, 397 out of 496 (80%) were killed or wounded. But despite the horrific losses, they didn’t break. They gave ground slowly and in good order, but they gave ground nonetheless. Iron does not break, but it does bend. By late afternoon, the dominoes fell as they were always going to. With the debacle at Blocher’s Knoll, any hope the Union had to hold the right was lost. The Black Hats were being ground into sawdust on the left. And Rodes has finally gotten his brigades to charge at the same time, overwhelming Cutler’s defense. Every Union man was running now, some in a blind panic, some withdrawing in good order like professionals. The open field battle turned into urban warfare as the Confederates chased the Union army through the streets of Gettysburg. Companies blocked the streets to hold off the enemy advance long enough for the comrades to scamper. Marksmen played sniper games in the windows, either shooting men in the back as they ran away or ambushing overly aggressive platoons, depending on the color of their uniform. The Union men were desperate to reach Cemetery Hill, south of the town. High ground and the reinforcements already stationed there promised safety. The Confederates were just as desperate to catch them first and seize that invaluable terrain for themselves. Nightfall A great deal of “woulda coulda shoulda” ink has been spilled over the orders that Lee gave to General Ewell, the man in charge of Rodes and Early: “Take Cemetery Hill if practical”. But Ewell saw two brigades with a lot of artillery standing on top of what appeared to be a natural fortress designed by God to repel infantry, and his men were exhausted to boot. Ewell decided it was not practical, and so did not try. Just one of those things, I expect. In any case, the day was a Confederate victory. Every spot on the map the Confederate troops wanted to go, they had went. They had crushed all resistance, had even gone toe to toe with the cream of the Army of the Potomac and won. Their enemies were in flight before them. There was, possibly, a certain amount of disquiet because the enemy had merely been driven from one ridge into another ridge, one even steeper and with more cover than the last. And rumor had it the rest of the Army of the Potomac was coming at them. But that was a problem for the next day.
ANSWERS: Mastering engineer Alain Paul (Tommy Four Seven, Paula Temple) responds to your AMAs
Back in May, I posted the AMA for mastering engineer and producer Alain Paul. Since Alain isn't on social media, we collaborated together offline to compile his responses to all your questions. Here are his answers, and there are some real nuggets of truth hidden here. I highly recommend you read through them all if you are at all interested in techno production or mastering in general. What traits would you consider important for a person, independently of his (production) skills? What would be one of the best skills/traits to have as a person which can be passed on to your production mindset and your overall sound quality? (via maka (Discord)) Someone who wants to be a mastering engineer should have the personality of a robot. The more like a robot you are the more tracks you can master. For me, not being a robot, I struggle to work on tracks in a conveyor belt fashion and absolutely need to take lots of breaks and days off so my capacity is far lower than some other engineers who I know who sit there 8 hours a day and bosh tracks out like machines. But that’s mastering. If you are asking about creativity, I find that the opposite is important. Don’t be a robot. Be weird, wonderful, unpredictable, arrogant and all the things your average employer doesn’t want to hear….. but you need consistency and perseverance otherwise you will never make it. Most guys I know who have success have been going at it for many years. When it comes to techno, what steps do you usually follow to master a track and are there issues we should consider that most tracks have? (viaCaen83) Often the kick isn’t strong enough. Hats are too loud. Stereo imaging is not mono compatible. They are the main problems I see on a routine basis. What are the top 3 most common mix critique fixes you give, excluding simple balancing (hat too loud etc) and too hot mixes (peaks too high/clipping)? (viaArry_Propah) Well, hats too loud is probably the third most common. Hats could also mean in this context shakers or any kind of high perc which is not sitting in the mix. Mostly that is just levels but it can also be EQ. Often people will try and view their mix in pigeon holes. They want the kick to occupy a certain frequency range, the top line to be in another frequency range and the hats to be in another etc. But the end result of this method of mixing is very often an over-EQed sound and I will usually get the stems and try make the frequency response of the sounds more balanced again and bring back some of the detail lost in the mix by this style of over EQing. Second most frequent thing hat got to be weird stereo imaging / mono compatibility issues. Especially with less experienced artists, there is a tendency to put ultra stereo widening stuff on all the sounds or even on the whole mix. This is one of the worst things you can do while mixing and I reject a lot of mixes because of this. It is far better to mix completely mono than mix “over wide”. But of course the best way is to mix with a strong mono image with supplementary stereo effects to make it sound nicer, but going crazy with the stereo invariably kills the mix. And in first place, by far the most common one is not getting the kick to sit right in the mix. And that isn’t just a level thing. Over the years I had to deal with a lot of kick problems and find a lot of different solutions, anywhere from EQ to gating to sample triggering. The kick is the most important part of most dance tracks so it has to sound right. Is there any approach we can do during mixing that would make master EQing come out better? Things we should avoid or things we can push (viabrucereyne) Every track is different and everyone’s mixing tastes are different but some general rules do apply especially to techno or electronic dance music generally, such as: the kick is often the foundation of the track, if any other element of the mix is significantly louder than the kick, or the kick seems quiet, you should probably reconsider or at least be aware that this choice is unusual. HiHats should not be too loud. If you turn the mix up loud and the hats hurt your ears then they are too loud. If you have some kind of sub bass or bass line, this should generally not be louder either in terms of perception or peak level than the kick drum. If it is, the bass might be too loud or your kick might be too quiet. Jungle / Drum and Bass can have exceptions to the kick / bass ratio but techno can rarely have a feeble kick and still sound great. whats the biggest advantage and disadvantage of a multiband compressor vs a single band compressor as a main "glue" compressor in the master chain. (viagombocrec) I find the biggest disadvantage of using a multi band compressor on the sum is that it generally will just add huge amounts of mush and transient degradation and significantly decrease the quality of the mix, so I generally will stay away. But the advantage is that it can sometimes save a poor mix where the session has been lost and there aren’t any stems, if there is some weird sound that jumps out etc. Using it as some type of “glue” though is generally a bad idea in my eyes and I see a lot of inexperienced people doing this with bad results. Just because you can get things louder it doesn’t mean it is better. Very rarely is multi band on the sum a desirable thing in professional mastering. What would be your number one tip for creating a sparkly high end that isn't harsh? Is it simply a case of some choice eq moves? Is a very focused compression band on the high end a good idea? (viaWilllockyear) I think this question is a compositional question disguised as a technical question. Let me explain…. Go and switch on a 909 or equivalent, software or hardware it doesn’t really matter, run your finger across all the steps on the hihat channel and press play and listen loud to the constant 16th note hats. After a very short amount of time it should start to fatigue your ears an insane amount. You might feel your ears “compressing” or just feel like you don’t want to listen to this because it is unpleasant. Now, if you dial in a very loud, long, full, bassy 4/4 kick, the hats will hurt your ears much less because you aren’t just getting blasted in one frequency range. The difference is huge and you haven’t used any EQ, compression or studio tricks, it is simply compositional. Back to mastering…. I will sometimes get a mix where the artist thinks the top end is harsh, then I listen to the mix and it has constant loud hats. Well it is not even about the mastering or mixing process, constant loud hats with no variation are just simply harsh. And it made worse if you have a very short, tight kick and not that much bass going on in the track generally because there is no frequencies from the bass balancing the high frequency assault of the hats. So rather than thinking about reaching for a compressor or EQ, try to change it compositionally by using side chaning on the hats or making the kick fuller or longer, or adding a thicker bassline, or sparsen out the hats a bit. When you have a great sounding mix in terms of composition, then it is much easier to get a great sounding mix technically and much less work is needed in mastering. But if you’ve done all than and are still looking for a super crisp top end, there are some tricks. Either using stuff like shimmery reverbs on your pads etc or try bussing some of the percussion sounds to two busses. A wet bus and a dry bus. On the wet bus you can boost the high frequency EQ a lot into a distortion. Then turn down the wet bus very low in the mix and feed it in until it thickens the highs but doesn’t become obvious. What are some more creative techniques for gluing a track together besides reverb and compression (i.e. if you want to keep a track as dry as possible)? (viarorykoehler) You say besides compression…. Well I totally get that it is all too common to slap an expensive compressor across the sum and fool yourself into thinking it sounds better because it is expensive. The more someone pays for a hardware compressor or the more shiny the plugin interface, the more people tend to hear magical “glue” properties. I personally think much of that is nonsense. Simply running everything through a stereo compressor isn’t the solution to sticking your mix together. The solution is crafting a nice mix and more importantly the compositional process itself. But this is exactly where compression comes in. If you aren’t using side chain compression, or using your modular system or Ableton modulation sources to really create dynamics and interplay between sounds then your mix won’t sound glued together because the elements in your tune aren’t vibing together. If you use side chain compression, gate dynamics, VCA and VCF modulation with LFOs and subtle envelopes from loads of triggers, your going to create a huge amount of dynamics as part of the compositional process and this will serve to glue everything together as part of the compositional process. And you will never want more glue as part of the mix because the tune will already vibe. In the mastering process, if a tune needs more glue, I will never run it though a stereo compressor or feed in reverb or whatever tricks other people reckon create glue. Generally I am going to be asking for stems and I will add some dynamics and interplay between the sounds using whatever modulations are appropriate for the tune. The biggest thing I struggle with is lack of visibility below <50Hz (with my nearfields) and how that impacts my productions. Given the importance of these frequencies in techno it feels like painting with a blindfold. Other than cross referencing with headphones/subpac is there any other advice you could offer? (viaMrSkruff) You just need decent headphones. Don’t try and look at the sound on an FFT. I know some mastering engineers who religiously look at their FFTs to understand what is happening at lower frequencies but this is a total amateur mistake unless they are using very specialist software. This is because each bar on a spectrum analysis chart represents one “bin”. And if you switch to a line graph, you don’t get any more detail, it is still just the same bins but with a line drawn between each. The amount of bins are determined by your window size… it is not uncommon to use 1024 bins across the spectrum analyser. Think about that, only a thousand data points across all audio frequencies. Mostly commonly the accuracy is linear. This means, to cut a long technical story short, you only have a few data points under 50Hz. Maybe you might have only two data points, it depends on the window size. So what are you going to find out with two data points? Basically it tells you almost nothing. It is totally useless. So you might think, OK well then why don’t I ramp up the window size to get more accuracy? You can do that, you could have a window size of a million. The problem is, it will take a million samples of audio playback before you have a reading so you will have an unusably slow spectrum analyser. So there is a huge tradeoff between speed and accuracy. Either the FFT is so slow you can’t use it, or it is so inaccurate that you can’t use it. Either way you can’t use it for low frequencies. So get some decent headphones. If you are on a budget, get some medium price Sony ear buds and you can at least use them to listen to music on the train. If budget, size and weight is less important, grab a pair of Audeze LCD2 - and I’d check out the closed back version too - or other good planar magnetic headphones. On the mastering chain, do you cut/roll off frequencies below 20hz? On the mastering chain or kick/bass groups, do you mono the low frequencies? For example, I often use the 'Utility' in Ableton to make <100-150hz mono. (viazimoofficial) In mastering there is nothing that you do just because “you are supposed to always do it this way”. So I do not cut frequencies below 20hz as a routine thing. But if there is a DC offset, which seems to be more common with my house / disco clients as they run their mixes through all sorts of weird and wonderful vintage gear, I will use low shelving or high passing to get rid of unwanted stuff outside of the intended audio band. Narrowing the stereo image in the bass frequencies is something I do a lot of when artists have an unfocused stereo field. There is little benefit to having “wide stereo bass”. You struggle to cut it to vinyl, it leads to unpredictable results in clubs and in my opinion it doesn’t even sound good anyway. I generally try not to have a “sound” as a mastering engineer, other than well balanced and professional, but one thing I will happily accept as a characteristic of any “sound” I might have, would be you don’t get swirly, murky mud bass with my masters. No mud shall pass. How often are you EQing to correct something in a mix as oppose to EQing just for tone? In regards to EQing for tone- if this is something done often- are there certain frequencies that you adjust/accentuate based on the genre you’re working with or based on an individual song basis? For example- many modern songs have the “smiley face curve” on the analyzer - bumped lows, scooped mids, bumped highs (viabrucereyne) Generally if there is something wrong in the mix, I will request stems or give mix feedback. I will only be very invasive with EQ if the client has lost the original session and it sounds bad and I need to be heavy handed to save a bad mix. The sound I shoot for in terms of tone, I am always looking for a balanced sound. I never EQ with a deliberate smiley curve just because that is “somehow supposed to be good”, because if you do this you lose the power and details of the mids. If you always EQ bright then you lose the warmth of the lows. If you always add lots of bass you lose the clarity of the highs. The only way which I think sounds good is to have a balanced sound. However, if you look at different genres on a spectrum analyser you might notice different kinds of general patterns but the variation is too big between songs in each genre to have that as any useful indicator of the way you should master a track. So stuff like EQ matching is all pretty much just nonsense in my opinion. Different styles and subgenres have varying tonal and dynamic characteristics. How do you as a mastering engineer account fojudge this in determining whether a submitted track is within parameters of a "good mix"? E.g. Harsh Mentor - Salve is quite different from Tommy Four Seven - Dead Ocean. (viaBedsitAudio) Some mastering engineers do what I call “genre curving” and I used to be guilty of this myself when I first started out with mastering before I really knew what I was doing. When I first started out I was using Izotope Ozone back when it was quite new, I’m pretty sure it was version 3. Anyway you could take “snapshots” of tracks and I took a bunch of snapshots of reference house and techno tracks and figured out that they were very similar how they looked. So I just used to match the curve of the track I was attempting to master, to the reference. And that was it. This is how I started off around about 15 years ago trying to understand how to master stuff but obviously this is not very professional. Sooner or later I realised that if a track had a longer kick drum it would have more bass on the curve than if it had a shorter kick drum, which lead me to reduce the bass too much on the long kick drums and boost the bass too much with the short kick drums and then it would either sound feeble or distort easily, and I wouldn’t get the right volume and it didn’t sound very balanced. So then I felt like I had no more reference point and no benchmark to achieve any consistency….. as my attempt to achieve consistency ironically just ended up making things sound even less consistent! The solution is that you need to listen to a ton of music critically and you slowly develop an ear for what a balanced track sounds like. It’s like trying to ride a bike. At first it seems hard and you don’t really know what you are doing, but once you have developed the feel for it, you are able to do it. But just because you can ride a bike it doesn’t mean you are going to be good enough to ride a halfpipe. For that you need lots and lots of practice and there is absolutely no shortcut. If you try and drop in on a huge halfpipe first time because you have read a book on BMX, then you will just hurt yourself. Same with mastering. There is no technical knowledge or trick you can use, it is all just lots of practise. What do you believe are the biggest trends in techno production and mastering right now? Where are we heading? (viateegeeteegeeteegee) Mastering is all over the place in techno because you have a mixture of engineers. People sending their stuff to professional mastering studios and getting a proper job done but also artists trying to do it themselves and ending up with weird results. When working with someone new, they might send me a badly mastered track as a reference and say “I want this loudness” and also send me a professionally mastered track and say “but I want the richness and clarity of this track”. And I have to explain that the loud one is distorting and sounds like someone throwing a bag of spanners down the stairs whereas the professionally mastered one is slightly quieter but actually sounds great. Anyone can make anything sound loud by smashing it through a distortion plugin and boosting the high frequencies but that isn’t the way to make something sound great. The problem is, when DJs play a mixture of unpro mastered tracks with professional tracks, either they have to use the gain knobs (which of course any good DJ would normally do) or the unpro mastered tracks will sound louder. There is a tendency to hear a louder track as sounding better just because it is louder (this is the classic mastering loudness war thing) but the issue in techno is that it is possible to just run an entire track through a distortion unit whereas more other genres you can’t. So there is a practical limit of common sense in most other genres but in techno, especially with the tougher stuff, there is seemingly no need for common sense in certain parts of the scene when people think the clipping and insane distortion sound good. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with listening to a square wave if that is your thing, but you just cannot expect to get a richer more complex dynamic track to sound equally loud. Most decent artists absolutely understand this though and don’t care about the extra loudness when it comes at the cost of sacrificing everything else Given that modern techno requires such a cohesive sound, do you recommend producers work with comp/limiting on the master channel pre mastering? Does you have artists that give you looser mixes to allow you to do higher quality comp/limiting in the mastering stage? (viateegeeteegeeteegee) Most artists I work with use a limiter (or just straight clipping) on the sum while they are composing and mixing the track. You can go as crazy as you want with limiting while working on your music. But the second you send it to be mastered you need to bounce the tracks with the limiter turned off and any compressor or saturation you have on the sum need to definitely be turned off otherwise I will reject the mixes. Sometimes the artist will send a reference with a limiter and it might even be louder than my master. But the artist can pretty much always hear that my master sounds better and more balanced and so I do not try and “beat the loudness” of their demo masters. Everyone I work with values a high quality end result more than a crap result which is extremely loud. And I know this because I refuse to work with artists that only want loud. But sure, when you are composing feel free to use limiting and I actually do recommend working with or at least checking your mix with a loud limiter setting because you can often pick up very quickly on soggy sounding kicks or unreasonably loud bass etc. Do techno producers these days tend to cut too much low end in their mixes? What tips would you give us for tighter low end that would work in a club setting? (viasonicloophole) There is not one trend in the mixes I receive. I’d say that over half the mixes are too dull and a very large amount are too bright. It is the vast minority which have perfect tonality. Some significant and increasing portion of the mixes I receive have nonsensical stereo widening and out-of-phase elements. The increase in use of stereo widening plugins is causing issues for people’s ability to mix nicely. The best bet is to uninstall any stereo widening plugins you have. If it sounds “super wide”, it is probably just out of phase and will disappear when played in mono leading to a low quality feeble mix. Always check mono. What is your all-time favourite techno track production wise (if it's more than one that's also fine ofc). (viaDr_eyebrow) There are so many tracks out there which just sound perfect in terms of their technical presentation / sound quality. This has been made very easy by artists using pristine quality sample library sounds in their music and the increasingly easy to use DAWs like Ableton. But when I listen to music, especially techno, it’s not the technical presentation which makes a track become one of my favourite, it is the creativity of the track and how it makes me feel. That’s why when I make my own music, I step well outside of the zone of being a mastering engineer and write stuff which doesn’t necessarily have the best sound quality but makes me feel something (like SHARDS - Three - A2). So my taste in techno in terms of my favourite tracks follow the same idea…. So for example I remember when Tommy Four Seven made Armed 3 a decade ago and I heard it in Berghain, that was something new for me and the track stuck with me as being this weird and brilliant anomaly of techno before anyone else was really doing that kind of sound. Or when Szare released Scored, that was a real favourite of mine at the time, whether you can call that strictly techno or not. Like stuff which you can’t work out if it is pretending to be techno but really isn’t or if it is actually techno but is just an anomaly. Who is to say? Ancient methods - Drop Out was the coolest thing when I first heard that. SØS Gunver Ryberg makes some crazy material. SNTS and Headless Horseman make some of my favourite dark rolling tracks. Maybe I’m just influenced by the fact that I’ve worked with those artists but I will often hear one track somewhere and immediately fall in love with the creativity amid a cloud of good sounding average tracks. Making your track sound good in a technical way is important, but the creativity to make something which breaks the mould is much cooler. What techno genre is hardest to master? Industrial techno has harsh transients, melodic techno has a larger dynamic range, etc. (viadangayle) To me everything is the same difficulty to master in terms of subgenres. It isn’t really the style of music it is the specific track which might be difficult and it generally has more to do with the person who composed and mixed the track. A pro melodic techno producer will submit an equally good quality mix to a pro industrial sounding producer. It is generally the inexperienced producer which create more of a challenge. Is it easieharder to master tracks that were created fully in the box vs tracks that come from modular or other live performances? (viadangayle) Not really, it really depends on the material. Actually modular setups can sometimes create weird frequencies and be harder to manage than purely digital in the box sourced sounds. Also you can get a higher noise floor with modular gear to the point of it being really problematic. Despite this I am a huge fan of eurorack. What is the best book on mixing and mastering? Old or new. Analog and digital. Thank you. (viaMILOFUZZ1) Books don't teach you how to mix, an internship in a decent studio does. I've done a bunch of unpaid internships in my time and by the time I joined Calyx Mastering in 2014 I thought I was pretty good, up to that point I had been earning a living from Mastering for around 6 years and out of the many applicants and after their very difficult job application mastering test, I was the one that got the job. Then the first day I started working there I had my ego deflated and suddenly felt like a complete amateur with the super high quality expectations there. By that time I already knew all the theoretical stuff you'd read in a book - it was the experience of working in a team of elite engineers which taught me the biggest lessons, not the theoretical stuff. How do you feel about using the following on the master buss: Saturation, Stereo widening, Mono-izing low frequencies, Low cuts between 10-50 Hz, Hight cuts between 15-20+ kHz, Using AD style clipper at the end, Multiband or standard compression for glu, (viafukinay) Saturation: generally a bad idea unless it is in parallel Stereo widening: disaster, don’t do this Mono bass: generally a good idea Low cuts: generally not necessary unless you have a DC offset or problematic stuff High cuts: not generally necessary unless you have TV frequencies Clipping: bad idea Multiband compressor: bad idea Stereo compressor: generally a bad idea unless in parallel In a untreated room, while using sonarworks or ik multimedia Arc2, how accurate can the mix and mastering be? (viaSonictrade) Speaker correction does just that, it corrects the speakers. It doesn’t correct the room. Stuff which claims that it is room correction is generally a gimmick. This is because a poorly treated bad sounding room has problems in both the frequency domain and more importantly time domain. So you set your mic up to measure the response at your listening position and you do the sweeps and come up with a correction curve. Great, you have corrected the frequency response if you head is exactly where the mic was. Move a bit to the left or right, or back or forwards and you lose the sweet spot. Now sitting in the new position you might have a worse (deeper valley or higher peak) than you had with the room correction turned off because you may have moved out of a high pressure standing wave into low pressure in respect to those frequencies. So where you sit is very important in determining whether you are going to get the “flat” frequency response or a completely messed up one. In practise, if you stay generally in the right position the frequency response might possibly be good enough to work with but then you have a whole new problem which can be even worse than having an uneven frequency response… that is the problem of resonances. Especially in the lower and lower mid frequencies. This makes certain notes sound longer than they are. If you have a resonance around 50-60Hz you will always have a completely inaccurate understanding of how your kick sounds and when you play your mix elsewhere it is possible that your kick sounds very short and feeble whereas it sounded huge and beefy in your studio room. This is why speaker correction solutions should be seen as supplements to room treatment and second in line, not first in line. Getting some bass traps and basic acoustic treatment doesn’t cost huge amounts… if you have a modular system you can probably afford to treat your room. But if you are on a budget it is very easy to make DIY solutions using rockwool based DIY traps. Just make sure to use a mask and a very thin layer of plastic under the fabric to keep the fibres from escaping through the fabric and being breathed in. Kind of curious the theory behind why one of my mixes that hits at -8 LUFS sounding softer than another mix at roughly the same LUFS. Is there an element in my mix that is hitting harder, say my kick, that is louder in one and taking up more of my headroom? (viaDudemanbro88) LUFS is not an accurate determiner of loudness despite the fact that it was designed specifically to do just that and everyone now seems to think it is a more accurate determiner of loudness than their own ears. It is actually quite difficult to create a calculated number to say how loud humans will perceive sound. Traditionally everyone has used RMS but it is well know that RMS is very bass influenced. That is, if you have a very bassy recording and a very trebbly recording and then normalised them to the same RMS value, the bassy recording would sound much quieter. So the broadcast industry experts came up with a solution using the K weighting system to deemphasise the influence of bass frequencies on the meter readings. And this is what LUFS is. It isn’t a perfect system and it doesn’t even come close to resembling Fletcher Munson curves. I personally don’t care all that much about LUFS. It is useful in broadcast standards but not so useful in mastering for club music, at least not yet. Any tips to avoid the dreaded "mud" when trying to put together an extremely bass heavy track? I really seem to like tracks that have a lot going on around that 40hz mark, but its a very hard area to monitor and mix properly! (viaNothingSuss1) 40Hz is a bit too low to reproduce well on many club systems. People think that club systems are big and powerful and can rumble strongly at any frequency they throw at it. The truth is, while club PA systems are generally very big and powerful, it takes a crazy amount of power and also good room acoustics to successfully reproduce frequencies in the 30-40Hz range with visceral loudness and low distortion. If you test drive your tracks regularly in clubs you will see that staying closer to the 50Hz - 65Hz range for kick frequencies is often a safer bet. You need to turn those very low frequencies up loudly in your mix to get them to cut through and then you end up with mud. So it is less of a mix thing and more of a compositional thing to create a mix with low amounts of mud. Or you could also celebrate the mud. Maybe listen to some Sunn 0))). What is your opinion whether mastering process should influence how well and pleasant the music sounds, or only and exclusively affect the loudness and conformance to standards? (viafourthtuna) I generally work with the artist to achieve the best possible sound, whatever that takes, but I will not intervene in the creative / compositional process. If you think that it is maybe sort of unfair that some people get external help in making their tracks sound better, then I’d say that, although having a professional mix and mastering job is very beneficial, if the actual tune isn’t good in terms of artistry, then no amount of mastering is going to make it a decent track. Is analog mastering better than digital? (viaCaen83) Today there is no such thing as analogue mastering. There is mastering exclusively with hardware…. In which case you might use a hardware limiter such as the Waves L2 but this is digital not analogue. Then you have to convert it back to digital at some point if you want to release the music digitally anyway. If you take analogue mastering to mean analogue EQ and compression, then what happens if you don’t need to use compression? Then all you mean by analogue mastering is analogue EQ. In which case, is analogue EQ better than digital? I’d say not necessarily. I do use analogue EQ but I don’t know of any analogue EQ that can be used as a ganged stereo dynamic EQ. So limiting yourself to using only analogue EQ would be a huge downgrade. In short, in modern times, analogue mastering (whatever that is taken to mean) is generally worse in my opinion than a hybrid or fully digital approach. With plug-ins becoming more and more powerful, Acustica emulating high end tube EQs, and even Softube with the 1:1 Weiss EQ and Compressor, do you think mastering will ever change from analog to hybrid, with just converters and plug-ins? (viasecus_official) It already changed years ago. Very few people do 100% analogue mastering because the limiters are pretty much always going to be digital and the end format is pretty much always digital too. You only generally get all-analogue mastering for speciality projects, like recording to tape and then mastering from tape to vinyl with no digital gear. So in this sense, the whole mastering industry had already gone hybrid many years ago. In 2020 I’d hazard a guess at saying that there are more digital mastering engineers than there are people using analogue EQ. The Weiss gear by the way is, and always was, digital. If what you mean is not analogue but “hardware”. Well I don’t really know how meaningful that is. If you have the L2 or the Weiss stuff running in a box in a rack or on your computer if it is the same code processing the digital signal. In fact many engineers sold their hardware L2s because the newer plugins sounded better. What are some of your favourite tracks you mastered and can you tell what exactly you like hearing in them and mastering them. (viaarneleadk) Tommy Four Seven’s album Veer was an especially cool album to master. To me that album is an obvious landmark in modern techno. Because of the complexity of the production and the massive amount of layers and detail Tommy likes to use in his tracks it was a big challenge to get sounding as weighty as it needed to be whilst preserving all of the details, clearing some of the mud caused by the complexity in the low end, getting the optimal stereo image to sound wide and full but at the same time be very mono compatible. It had to be loud yet dynamic and hard hitting but graceful in the detail of the sounds. It had to do everything all at once which is the most difficult thing possible in mastering because mastering is normally a balancing act. What is the difference between tracks you get from seasoned professionals (Paula Temple, T47) vs those you get from new producers? (viadangayle) Generally the quality of the mixes are instantly recognisable and they don’t make common errors like having the hihats far too loud in the mix etc. Also they know what works in a club and what will cut through on the sound systems and they won’t compose tracks with sounds which don’t translate well in those environments. Beyond the music itself you can generally tell someone who is a pro by the lack of concern for control over the mastering process. When I get a track from one of my long term record labels or artists, a wetransfer email will turn up in my inbox with no note. I master whatever it is and send the masters back and invoice them. They pay the invoice within a week and that is the end of the process, no revisions. With new producers, the same kind of job will take 20 emails and maybe a revision or two after I have requested stems and given mix feedback. From a mastering engineer's perspective, should producers have their tracks mastered before shopping them to labels, or should they leave that up to the label itself? (viadangayle) Generally labels like to get their stuff mastered by their own preferred mastering guy and they could even suggest changes to the tracks before they signed them. So there is a reasonably high chance that you will not actually release the masters you pay to get done, and they will need to be redone. However, the question is whether having the tracks mastered so they sound their best, might actually have gotten the attention of the label… maybe if it had not been mastered and sounded a bit more rough, the label may have overlooked it. I would generally advise mastering your stuff if you are confident with the tracks and have the budget as it could be the edge which gets you the deal. Do you master your own productions as Shards/These Hidden Hands, or are you too close to the music to be objective? (viadangayle) I have mastered every Shards and THH record. Objectivity comes with time away from listening to the music. You cannot make a track and master it the same evening but you can make an album, have a two week holiday and come back and master it with an increased amount of objectivity, not optimal amounts but enough to do a pretty good job if you can focus. Generally the test is, listen back in a year and if you think “oh shit” then you should probably ask another engineer next time. But with Shards and THH I still think I did a good job looking back, in fact I use one of my Shards tracks as a calibration / reference track and I think that our second THH album, Vicarious Memories, is one of the best album masters I’ve done and I use the track The Telepath as one of my most important references for testing new monitors and headphones. It seems to work for me but some other mastering engineers insist on having other people masters their own music. I guess it would be interesting to get another engineer to master the next THH record and then compare it with my own master to see if my objectivity really is impeded… but then again, last time I did that with a Shards track which came out on another label, I had to end up submitting my own master because I hated the master their engineer came up with.
A story that has it all...6 Figure Losses...Gains...Bears...Bulls...Tough Lessons
I'm writing this story in hopes that it inspires one of you developmentally disabled "investors" that true autism can prevail...even if you get knocked out 4 or 5 times. I also hope you learn from my monumental mistakes. Pull up a chair... Here is a picture of my account value from the last 3 years, showing my account blowups:https://imgur.com/a/SmOSPUl YTD account value:https://imgur.com/a/L67faBz Here are my current positions and my YTD profit/losses by position:https://imgur.com/a/VAOgJpA Net Deposit/Withdraw (essentially my money lost by depositing, doesn't account for any appreciation): 2015: Deposited: $10,300 2016: Deposited: $21,403 2017: Withdrew: $646 2018: Deposited: $49,977 2019: Deposited: $62,497 2020: Withdrew: $49,977 Net: Lost/Deposited: $93,554 Let me set the scene, I was in high school, the market had crashed because of a little snafu involving the housing market. An older family friend of mine suggested investing some money. My mom thought it would be helpful to teach me more about this so she put $1000 towards this endeavor. I invested in some super safe blue chips and didn't really check it. And so it begins.... A few years later while in college (2012 ish) I checked in on these stocks and they had appreciated a good bit. Let's say I had a few thousand at this point, and I was working during the summer so I started throwing some more money in. Got into some "riskier" names like Apple, AMZN, and even got in on the FB IPO. I sold AMZN at $190 because even then they had no earnings and it had run up quite a bit. What a great sell looking back! Now let's flash forward to the 1st account blowup... 1st Account Blowup(2012 ish): I was a college kid who had not yet discovered WSB. Like many of you I was still sucking on my mom's teet, and I probably could have used some time to crawl back inside my mom and cook a little longer, but that was no longer an option. I had about $10k in my account at this time, so like any true autist I needed to get to $100k immediately I kept hearing that Apple was undervalued, so I bought some Apple Calls at the 600 strike price. The stock had been at 700 (pre-split). It seemed easy, it would go back to 700 and I'd have 100 bones per call. I remember calculating it and realizing if it just did that I'd have $100k. I was even responsible and went out like 6 months in time. As expected it stayed undervalued, my calls expired worthless. Lovely. And then afterwards when I had no money, and now no Natty Lites, the stock went on a tear and regained the 700 level and more. I had no income so I just had to sit on the sidelines and think about it. But like any gambling addict I would eventually come back to play again... I would repeat this process of work in the summer, save up money, blow it on options during the college school year, and finish the year broke. I would get a little dopamine now and then off of gains, but nothing meaningful. Obviously each time I promised myself I wouldn't let it happen again, and I'd be more responsible next time. You know how that works.. 1st Account Blowup TL;DR: Lost 10k in Apple calls Now after I graduated and got a job paying some real money I was able to save some up and come back to the slot machine more often and with bigger pockets. I lived with my parents like the rest of you, and I got a good paying job right out of college as a chemical engineer. After getting my company match on my 401k and all that responsible stuff, I would take the rest of my paycheck and "invest" it. You know in safe stuff like stocks and then ultimately sell those for some good ole FD's, which if they paid off I'd just bet on something else. I'm not sure how much I threw away in this process. It's probably safe to say it was in the neighborhood of $20k/year for a good 4 years until last year or so. After just realizing as I write this that I don't even know how much I lost, as much as it pains me to add it up, I am going back and adding in how much I deposited and withdrew (lol) annually from 2015 on. It's probably time I accept it. I've added this up top. 2nd Account Blowup: Now if you refer to the graph in 2017 you can see a spike in equity...don't worry I didn't hit on a big FD. This was from an inheritance. RIP Gam gam. I got about $70k here(I'm not sure why it didn't ring up right in my deposit/withdraw statements). At first I invested it responsibly, and then of course I didn't. I looked back to see how I blew this because I didn't remember. Basically there are stupid call/puts all over the place in AMZN, AGN, Banks, you name it. I probably had a lot great "hunches". To be clear I lost everything and anything I had here. It felt crappy knowing my immigrant grandma saved up this money to give to me and I had made short work of it. I always thought afterwards if I had just invested it responsibly this young it would prove to be a lot of money down the road. I also always figured if I just got to $100k I'd invest it responsibly and turn into Warren Buffet (pronounced like an all you can eat Buffet). Chasing the next round number is always a game that you're sure to lose. 2nd Account Blowup TL;DR: Lost $70k in inheritance on options 3rd Account Blowup: Now after this at some point I got a margin account at TDA with futures and full options capabilities. A great way to lose money even faster! In 2018 I dabbled with mini futures contracts but nothing serious. If you refer to the all time graph I had a mini spike in here as well (always good for 1 a year), but I blew this. This got blown on more options and like I said small amounts of nasdaq futures. This is technically the 3rd account blowup. I did get some money from a family member as a gift and that's what funded this particular spree. Yeah I felt like crap and all that, but the worst was yet to come, looking back in magnitude these didn't compare to what laid ahead. If you're keeping track of what I lost, I know for sure I lost $50k at least of deposits here, so you can add that to the inheritance from above to keep total of just the big one time deposits, not including the bi-weekly paycheck contributions. 3rd Account Blowup TL;DR: Lost $50k from a gift from a family member in options/futures 4th Account Blowup: We are getting to the good ones...Now in the inheritance I should specify that I received a piece of property. I wasn't going to be able to maintain it so I sold it in 2019. Got about $90k out of it, put about $70k of that into my brokerage account. And if you refer to the all time graph you can figure out what happened here. Did the classic dance, put it in stocks at first, then didn't. Ultimately lost all of this in Oil Futures. This was the toughest loss to date. This was the last of the "big" money or assets I knew I'd have. This in my mind was my last chance to make a good chunk of money, then invest it responsibly, and just grow it. I was a moron. I never felt lower than when I lost all of this. It was a relatively slow bleed as well. I remember the day I had lost it all, we needed fire wood for the winter. I ordered it and stacked it for 4 hours, just painstakingly blowing my back out on purpose as I felt completely defeated. I know my girlfriend was like what is wrong with this dude, because I was just completely depressed at this point. I thought it was all over. I was sure I'd never recover and never amount to anything. This lasted for a week or two which is a long time in this context and state of mind. I felt very destabilized. I had identified myself almost entirely with money. And after playing with those sums and losing them all I'd ever be able to do at this point was deposit a couple bucks from my paycheck, and what's a few hundred or thousand bucks at this point? Even if I put that in, I would just try to hit a 100 bagger to get back to what I considered a real amount. To this day I don't know I've ever felt lower than I did at this very moment. It was the one you hear everyone talk about. As if trading oil futures completely overleveraged and not knowing a thing about oil could have ended differently... 4th Account Blowup TL;DR: Lost $70k in essentially inheritance on Oil futures. Completely devastated. 2020(You can refer to the YTD account value chart for this rollercoaster ride): At this point I had nothing. I still had my job and could drop money in from that, but nothing in my mind would compare to the amounts I once had and played with before. At the end of 2019 as many of you know stonks only went up. I figured at some point it would crack, but once the nasdaq hit 9k I realized I should just go long until it finally craters, the bear inside me said it would(that bear has been wrong 100% of the time roughly. He's a man bear who likes other man bears, maybe even a man bear pig). I finally realized this and stopped trying to pick a top. I didn't have any money to play with so I did the sensible thing...I took a $7k cash advance on a credit card, I figured I'd make a ton of money, then just pay it back and play with house money. Like many of us here figure.... So I did this and I went long futures. Naturally, as soon as I did this (literally within days), the market began to crater and I went short, as short as I could go. I maxed out my account margin with Nasdaq shorts. Only playing the mini-nasdaq contracts at first. As you know it fell straight down. For what seemed like the first time ever my account was green. I continued to pyramid shorts and stack em up as it went down and it continued to payoff. I got to $100k and I couldn't believe it. I remember taking a leak just thinking about it at the market close and I looked back at the screen and my account was to $114k already. It seemed like a dream. I continued to max out my shorts all the way down to 6600 points on the nasdaq futures and hit an account value of $370k ish. I kind of figured we had to rally back somewhat since we were down so much so quick. However, I continued to try and pick near term tops and tried to short it(AKA I fought the fed and as you will see, lost). I said if I fell back to $300k in value I'd exit all positions and just be smart...then I lowered that stop to $250k...then $200k...then $150k...then $100k...$50k...and finally I got margin called hard one day at $32k(on the TDA chart it doesn't always ring up right for some reason with futures). Also, TDA was constantly calling me with margin calls, that was lovely. Anyways, that felt shitty. I really started to question my true motives and goals. I had finally made the money I wanted. More than enough to be smart with and grow into a nice nest egg, and I pissed it all away. I did pay of a good deal of debt, paid back the credit card cash advance (probably first person to actually pull this off), and bought a toy. This was my withdrawing of $50k for the year, which you can see at the beginning. From here I continued to stay short. Inside I think I just wanted to go back to $0 and end it. Put me out of my misery. Part of me truly wondered if I liked losing it all. I had always done it. Maybe I was just getting what I wanted every time. During this I got a small selloff and my short positions increased my account value to $90k. Now I had this new idea. There were tons of stocks that were undervalued still as we were rallying. If I could get portfolio margin I could get 6.6 times buying power of whatever I had in my account. I could just buy a lot of stocks, and then if the trend flipped again I could short my portfolio to hedge my positions and downside if needed. However, you had to get to $125k in equity on TDA to apply for portfolio margin, and then keep it above $100k or they'd margin call your account. I managed, via futures, to get my account value to $131k. I immediately applied for portfolio margin. You have to take a 20 question test on scenarios with different types of options spread (iron condors, synthetic short, etc.). Even once I reached that value I was dumb enough to hold positions overnight and over weekends and risk going below $125k where they wouldn't let me open this account. However, I did finally get approved! If you refer to the YTD chart you will see this started the rebound. Once approved I bought a ton of stock in the banks near or at the bottoms (about $150k in JPM, $400k in WFC) and bought some XOM ($200k), CGC, and TLRY. I have a small futures position in Gold too as an inflation hedge. I looked for stocks that were very undervalued and had big dividends. I figured I could lock in these big dividends and then use the dividends to pay back the margin to get equity, assuming they don't cut these dividends. The dividends at these levels would actually pay for the margin interest nearly entirely. I added AT&T later on too. I liked the pot stocks as well since they had gotten hammered big time. As I write this we got a good jobs report and what do you know, stocks only go up. My account value is for the first time back at it's all time high ~$370k. I honestly don't even believe I found a way to claw back again. I'm speechless, and still worried I will end up as I have every other time. I have about $1.2 million in stock positions. Even with where I am now my positions should pay more than $62k/year in dividends. And I think the stocks can appreciate in value outside of that as well. I'm in a much better place mentally and I finally respect the risk after getting my cheeks spread 4-5 times. I don't want to get carried out because I didn't respect the risk. I know I'm in a good place again and I don't want to screw it up this time. I'm getting to a point where I realize I could almost live off the dividends or at least supplement my income to a great deal. I'm definitely not going to be "guessing" with futures anymore though, and I've put a rule in that no futures position can exceed 10% of my portfolio, and my target is for 5% positions. I may even make the 5% rule a hard rule. I also have a trend trading system, and I no longer allow myself to trade against the trend, I can only trade with it. But with this much money and buying power I plan to mainly stick to stocks. And if attractive dividends pop up I will add them. Even if attractive companies pop up I'll buy them. I know I shouldn't even be allowed to mention dividend investing in this forum. Fuck me right? Thanks for listening. 2020 TL;DR: Cash advanced $7k off a credit card. Grew it to $370k with futures. Ungrew it to $30k with futures. Grew it back to $370k with portfolio margin/stocks. I hope someone out there can read this, and learn from it. I had some seriously low lows. Words cannot describe how I felt. Not only towards myself, but towards my loved ones if they only knew. Do yourself a favor and use this as your experience. Don't go through this emotional rollercoaster yourself. Remember, if you make huge gains, don't be a pig and get slaughtered. Take your gains for fucks sake. Edit 1: Updated positions picture, cropped it poorly Edit 2: Just to add...I could have dolled up the story and easily avoided ridicule. Obviously the inheritances are A TON, and anyone, even myself believe it or not, would be ecstatic to get that. And one would surely safely put it away and let it grow into a nice nest egg. But I did some careless things, no doubt. And hell yeah there is a lot of greed in there and lessons that could be learned. But I wanted to give you guys the authentic story of what happened. Trust me, it isn't easy to share this one as easy as it may seem. There are a lot of embarrassing moments that I'm not proud of. But I think that's what makes it a good story. I hope you enjoy the authenticity. I don't think many people would share the raw version like this and the true emotional roller-coaster ride and mess it was Haha Edit 3: Thanks everyone for the advice and support, I appreciate it. Also It's just money at the end of the day, kind of a way to keep score! Real happiness comes from relationships and your daily life, this situation made that glaringly obvious to me. And that lesson is priceless.
Was going to post this yesterday but got Hijacked by some buddies to go try 9th ed out. Watching my 4 Kastelan's Overwatch 72 shots into assault Intercessors, survive the attack and proceed to shoot them in melee another 72 times... Destroying the unit was fun. R.I.P brave data smith you did your job well. Now comes the times of shooty vehicle melee. [First][Prev] [Next] Thanks for reading, and enjoy. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Finley Macdonald was currently reclined in his favourite chair, a nice cup of coffee in one hand and a book in another. Having just returned from nearly the edge of Terran space from a really shitty mission, all he really wanted to do was to kick back and shut his brain off. He had always liked reading after a mission. It helped him forget some of the more unpleasant images he was exposed to in his line of work. He always stuck to the more silly fantasy books, they always seemed to do the trick. His current book about robotic chaos wizards vs the galaxy knight was seemingly serving its intended purpose of putting him in a good mood. That is, until he received a notification on his implant. "I thought I shut that damn thing off." He complained, double-checking his com implant and noticing that it was already in do not disturb mode. Swearing, he ran a system diagnostic which swiftly reported nothing abnormal. "Shit, damn glitches. Guess I'll have to see the doc tomorrow." Getting back to his book, he only got another thirty minutes of reading in before he heard banging at his door. "Oh for F~" Moving to the door, he keyed the cam to find out who was on the other side. To his surprise, six men in military uniforms were standing respectfully on his steps. "Oh, crap." Trying to remember if he did anything inappropriate on his last mission as the men waited patiently, he came up blank. "What the hell do they want with me?" More banging on the door brought him back to the present. Looking back at the door cam he noticed one of them had pulled out an odd-looking tool and started waving it in front of his door, he watched in horror, as his door unlocked itself and Finley came face to face with six very large drop marines. "Uhh, hello guys." He tried with a smile. "What can I do for you today?" Five marines stepped into his house while the remaining one began to speak in a very authoritative tone. "Finley Macdonald, as previously notified via com, you have been selected to lead an important aid mission whereas your expertise in frozen climates are required. A specialised fleet and crew are currently being prepared as we speak. Everything you will need is being taken care of, however, if you require anything else, please use this device to make your request." Once the marine handed the device over and finished his speech, Finley turned around and looked at the marines roaming through his house, picking up objects and clothes. "I don't suppose I get a choice in all this, do I?" He asked. The marine smiled. "Even if you did, I guarantee you would take it." Finley turned around and began helping the marines pick through his useless gadgets. Pointing out the more important tools he would need for his new task. After about 20 minutes his custom tools were packed and he was ready to go. "That everything sir? You may not be back for a very long time." The talkative marine stated. "That should be everything. I'll be able to make most of the tools I'll need while in route after I'm briefed on the mission." Finley replied, stepping into an armoured shuttle. Without so much of a word, the marines sorted his tools in the cargo hold and directed him to an area where he could sit down. Finley stumbled to his seat as the shuttle started climbing into space at an astonishing speed. "I'm used to rushing guys, but isn't this a bit much? there must be other frozen climate SAR experts that are active in space right now." He protested. The talkative marine looked at him. "Two of them actually. Both are currently in sol on route to Eris." Finley shut his mouth once the marine mentioned Eris. "You don't mean to say I'm going to Eris, do you?" The marines only smiled as the ship went to warp for a few seconds and exited. That's when Finley got real worried. "That was a warp skip in SOL space right beside the bloody Earth, wasn't it?" He asked quietly. The marines stood up and made way to the cargo bay, the talkative one staying behind to guide Finley. "This way please sir." Finley decided asking questions wasn't in his best interest of yet and decided to follow the marine to the cargo bay. It only seemed to take a few minutes before he felt the shuttle dock and the cargo hatch begin to open. Finley nervously followed the nameless marine down the ramp and into the hangar where he was finally able to look around, mouth hanging open in surprise. Hundreds of ships. Coming and going in every direction, with thousands upon thousands of soldiers, workers, and civilians, tens of thousands of people moving around, gathering and storing things. Moving them into what looked to be the interior of. "This is a fucking moon base!" Finley shouted. "Oh look he can use his eyes." One of the untalkative marines replied with laughter. Finley closely followed the marines into a personnel lift and watched as the leader key in a command. The ride only lasted a few minutes, but it was unnerving and felt like he was being tossed around in a can as the lift moved in almost every direction. "This way please." The nicer of the marines requested, finally directing him into a room with a bunch of other confused-looking people, some still in their pyjamas. Finley looked around the room and laughed, gathering a bit of attention. "Anyone know why the hell we're here?" The chorus of negatives was all he needed to hear, deciding to take a seat and wait. After a few more people were slowly piled into the large room, he decided to ask a few questions. "Hi, my name is Finley, I'm a frozen climate SAR commander," he said with a smile. "Been here long?" He asked the very augmented man closest to him. The man looked back at him and shrugged. "Just got here, I work in orbital mechanics. Not sure why I'm here either." Another man joining in on the conversation piped up. "Sorry to interject, but I'm a biologist. Not sure why I'm here, and I've asked around already. Unfortunately I don't see a pattern in careers either." Finley thought to himself how weird this whole situation was, watching as more people were hurriedly ushered in. After a few more minutes passed by, an important-looking woman entered followed by two marines. The three quickly moved to the holo-display in the middle of the room, and the woman stepped in front of the gathering. " I am base commander Kendra Brown. Yes, you are on a moon base. No, you may not go yet." She stated with a straight face, only able to hold it for a few moments before breaking into a grin. "You and you families will be my guests while we embark on possibly the most important mission humanity has ever had the pleasure to be apart of." Finley wasn't buying it. What kind of important mission would need a frozen climate SAR specialist to be hurried onto a bloody moon base? But, he decided to humour the lady. "I see a few of you aren't convinced. I'm sure some of you have noticed that the gathered personal here are the foremost experts in frozen world-ecology or similar fields." Pulling out a data pad, she tapped on it a few times and brought up a frozen world. "This is the Planet Aaster." Finley watched with mild amusement, he could tell just from looking at the planet that by the time a moon base got to that ice ball, even it if was next to sol, everyone on it would be dead. "What a waste of time." He whispered to his augmented new friend. "Is that so? Mr.Macdonald? Care to tell me why?" The base commander asked with a wicked smile. Finley wasn't stupid but decided to play her game and point out why. "The entire ocean is frozen solid from what I can see. To much dust and cloud cover, hardly any sun. That's an ice planet with no source of solar power to rely on, with a hazardous atmosphere. I see blizzards and ice storm being a constant threat to any outboard electrical while at the same time slowly freezing onboard systems. It's not some cold climate, where you can survive a few weeks inside a crashed colony ship with some fire and rations. By the time this slow ass moon base gets there, whatever crashed on that planet will be dead." Finley heard a few murmurs of agreements and smiled. "Very astute observation Mr.Macdonald. You are correct. The inhabitants of this planet die within a minute when they leave their envirodomes." Silence permeated the room while people digested what was just said. Kendra tapped her data pad, and a new picture came up of a biped snake lizard thing, rotating for all to see. "These are the people you will be responsible for saving." The room burst into a flurry of yells and excitement. The commander letting people get it out of their system before continuing. After a few minutes, she clapped her hands to gather attention, and Kendra continued. " The people gathered here are experts in orbital mechanics, climate control, rescue, and terraforming. We have also gathered biologists, botanists, and virology experts and a lot of doctors. You will be given fully stocked labs with the best equipment and fabricators, as well as any assistance you request. Now then, with that out of the way, if you wish to decline this mission, you may leave out that door, a shuttle will take you back to wherever you need. I'll give you 10 minutes to decide." Finley decided he liked moon bases after all and leaned back into his uncomfortable chair. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Captain Andriet was currently on com with First Tail Chrarada discussing the ongoing efforts of Terran ground forces. "We're stretched pretty thin as is Chrarada. The ten thousand helped a bit. But that's two billion people down there." Chrarada sighed in resignation. "I'm sorry Andriet, this kind of malfunction has happened before and they've survived without death. I'm just worried." "We can still send engineers to help, but the supplies will take time. Once 'Speaks With Fists' is finished with its refit things will get better." Andriet said softly trying to console Chrarada. Chrarada chuckled, "Do all Terran ships have such silly names?" Andriet burst into laughter, "You have no idea, we tend to have a habit of bestowing things with silly names." "Must be all ethanol you Terrans drink. I have come to find it can lead to interesting effects amongst the males of my kind." Chrarada teased. Andriet leaned into her monitor and wordlessly begged Chrarada to spill. "You can't just tease me like that." Chrarada eyed Andriet back and relented. "I find it makes them more forthcoming and bold. I quickly became the... target? Of my own plan. I would say, victim, however, there was no victim that night." Andriet had a massive smile. "Would you like another bottle?" "Maybe another time Andriet," Chrarada said teasingly. "We still have business to attend to." "Right my apologies. Speaking on business, I need you to look at this data. I know your people were barely setting up their first orbital station when Accaro was destroyed. But are you sure your people didn't see anything? I know you can tell from the data, but it looks like someone was testing weapons in your system." "If they did, the logs were destroyed. You have to understand it happened over two hundred years ago. The remnants of my people were more focused on survival when the destruction ended, and the planet started its rapid cooling." Andriet sighed as another report came in from the surface requesting more food aid. "We can hardly feed the places we're currently set up." She said quietly, forwarding the report to Chrarada. Chrarada just looked at the report with sadness in her eyes feeling a bit of guilt tug at her heart. "If... I let the remainder of your fleet into our syst~" "Don't, your people aren't ready yet, and it won't matter much. Sure we could feed a few more mouths. But not as much as you think. Our current fleet is running their fabs hot for things they shouldn't need to due to our fleet support ships aiding your people. If we park our fleet in your system, your people might think you lack control or have been conquered. Give it a few more weeks." Andriet said with regret. Chrarada was angry at the situation but knew Andriet was right. People might get the wrong idea and start to attack the Terrans if their fleet enters the system. "You're right I'm just frustrated, My people are resilient and we can survive until your aid fleet arrives." Andriet was happy with the change in Chrarada. "Your people survived without our help, now together we can rebuild what you've lost." Andriet said with a gentle smile. "Thank you for your support Andriet, let me know if there is anything else you need. I should get going back to the bridge." "No, nothing right now. Just more things neither of us can handle at the moment." Andriet said, pausing for a time then sighing and sending more reports to Chrarada. "Always some new problem." Chrarada replied, keying in some new orders. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Srettia stood in the hangar, looking at her ship in awe. " It looks like I can take on the galaxy." She said happily. "I made sure all angles of fire are covered with either a lance battery or rail gun." Srettia moved towards her ship in glee. It was covered in thick armour and sleek looking turrets that pointed in every direction now. Waving at the tired-looking mechanics, she boarded her ship to check out the changes. "This ship is definitely not anywhere close to being legal for a civilian Jack. What's going to happen when she completes her commission?" Michael asked, following behind his excited partner. "The admiral says it's not his problem as she's in a grey area. Not belonging to Terran navy nor do her people have rules on the types of weapons her ship has." "Well, I guess that solves that problem." Boarding the ship Michael walked to the cockpit looking for Srettia. "I have new controls! Teach me what they do." Srettia asked as Michael came into her view. "Well most are weapon controls, so you won't need to worry about them as either Jack or myself will be in control. You added some Ion boosters?" "Tanda suggested that since there was space, they would increase mobility by 8.3%. With his reactor modifications and my armour plan, there will be no drain on the main system when activated." "Damn Jack that's amazing. no wonder Tanda wanted to keep you." Srettia pinched Michael and gave him an annoyed look as her tail tried grabbing onto him. "Right sorry, so when we're at impulse if you need an extra bit of manoeuvrability just key that button. It won't increase speed too much since the impulse engines work by pushing on space not thrusting the ship, but should give you better movement." Watching as Srettia looked over her controls, Michael sat in his couch and waited. "Can we go now?" Srettia asked, looking over at Michael. "You're the captain. Request away." Michael replied, keying in some commands. "I could always order you to do it." She replied, thinking about her newfound power. "In fact, I get to order you around from now on, don't I?" "You could order him to do the things he's not doing that should be obvious. Hangar control is transmitting clearance." Srettia burst out laughing. "I was told that it was an uphill battle on wheels." she replied, manipulating the controls and piloting the ship out of the hangar. "I don't feel any difference in the controls." "I'm just finishing up on compensating for the armour now." Michael replied, still poking away at his console. "I don't think he heard us." "Isn't that just normal for him though?" Srettia laughed, finally exiting the hangar. "Keep at it he'll crumble eventually." "Alright all done. Now, do you still want to head out to that system with the nebula you picked out yesterday?" Michael interrupted. "I definitely want to head to that system. It should only take about a week, right?" Srettia replied, watching as Michael got out of his couch and walk over to her. "Alright, Lesson one. The warp system is built so stupid people don't run into other stupid people trying not to run into other stupid people." Michael stated with a chuckle keying in an odd sequence that brought up a new window. Srettia fought back the urge to taste the air as Michael leaned over her and started showing her the more advanced controls. "So with this new console, I notice that nothing is automatic like the other one I was just looking at. What happens if I key something wrong." She asked unconsciously wrapping her tail around Michael's leg. "Well, you run your ship into a planet or bounce off a star or smash into an asteroid." Michael said with a chuckle remembering his recent crash. "So wait, this is super dangerous then. Why are you showing it to me?" Srettia asked, mildly horrified. "Because you're going to learn how to pilot this ship properly and not rely on idiot-proof systems. So when the boogeyman shows up, you'll fly circles around him while jack and I blow his pants off." "I'm sure the removing of pants will happen a few times during our travels." "What makes you think that?" Michael asked. "Just a feeling partner." "So If I plot a course like this, it works to get us to the system safely, and from what I've noticed, I've already cut down a day and a half of travel?" Srettia asked, changing the subject back to teaching. "I think you're being a bit too conservative around this area." Michael replied and pointed out an area that seemed out of place on her course. "I didn't want to get to close to that dust cloud." She replied and tightening up her route, shaving six hours off the travel time to her surprise. "Why did it do that?" "It's just the way warp mechanics work you'll get the hang of it." Michael replied, uncurling Srettias tail and sitting back down. "I was never taught, warp mechanics." She said quietly. "Nope, you weren't. That's why I'm here to teach you, although we can skip that boring book stuff and do it the fun way." Looking over her course, Michael smiled. "Wanna see how I would do my course?" Srettia thought for a moment. "Go easy on me?" "I'm not sure you should be asking him that." "Why not?" Srettia asked, looking into the camera. "You should be asking him to go hard on you... I mean, how else will you learn. "Alright, this how my course would look." Michael said, trying to sound approachable. Srettia looked down at her nav map and was astonished. "That's almost a full two days you took off of my route." Michael brought up her route and put it beside his on the main viewer. "See where the differences are? After studying it for a moment, she noticed where she had messed up and smiled sarcastically at him. "Alright, I get it. Stellar objects are meant to be flown through." "No, you dummy rotate the map." Michael retorted. Srettia realised where she fumbled before she even looked at the map. "I'm an idiot. she said with a laugh. What kind of pilot am I who can't remember space is three dimensional?" "One that didn't bother rotating the map." Michael laughed. "It's a damn good lesson though. You ready?" "You bet." Srettia keyed the control, and the ship began its short journey to a new system.
My Extensive Thoughts on the First Half of FC (through Chapter 2)
Unmarked spoilers for everything before Chapter 3 incoming. Chapter 3 spoilers and onwards should be marked. Hello, again, everyone! About 3 weeks ago, I played through the Prologue and was really eager to get back into the series after having played the first two chapters of Cold Steel. Now I'm back after the halfway mark to give my thoughts so far, like I said I would. Link to thoughts on the Prologue One thing I never mentioned was the music, and I like it a lot. To me, music is the second most important thing in a game behind gameplay. If the soundtrack is mediocre, or even just plain bad, that causes a rippling effect throughout the game. Battles aren't as exciting, bosses aren't as thrilling, emotional moments don't hit the highs they should, etc. Fortunately, Falcom delivers. Sophisticated Fight is a great song that doesn't wear down over time (at least not yet), the mini-boss theme is great as well, and that one boss fight theme that plays during the climax of Chapter 2 when you're fighting those beasts was excellent! Ruan's theme is my favorite town theme so far by far, though they're all great. The composer for this game definitely does it justice. Chapter 1: Disappearance of the Linde Bose is a really cool town. It reminds me of Celdic from Cold Steel, but the feel is definitely different. I really like Maybelle, she really seems to be someone who likes to get involved in the community. I can't get over how good the NPC interactions in this game are. One of the tellers at the shops is a guy named Nigel, and he will mention on multiple occasions how he really doesn't hope they check the tills or he'll be in trouble. After the investigation the army does in Bose, there's a new person in his place and he says that Nigel was arrested and taken to the Haken Gate, and he was involved in some lady business. That's absolutely brilliant and I honestly laughed at that. When you think about it, it really shouldn't be that hard to do this type of thing for all the NPC's, it's just A LOT of work. It's these types of things that separate the 9/10's from the 10's. The book we received on the Hundred Day War was very interesting and really goes to show how Ruthless Erebonia can be. They literally timed it so they could blow through the Haken Gate immediately after the Queen read the letter about the declaration of war so they would have no time to react. And the poor people of Ravennue, too. Such good and humble people devastated by a power-hungry country. It's really interesting because from what little I played of Cold Steel, you can tell they don't see their actions as bad at all, they're a very "history is written by the victors" type of country. How convenient that Cassius was able to get off the Linde just before takeoff, but what was he doing? Was it really just a coincidence or did he know something? All the information we get involving him makes him even more suspicious, but we'll see. I did really like being able to talk to the captors we saved and their families when we got back to Bose. Some of them were from Ruan as well, and we can talk to them there too. I love it because we can really see the impact we're making on the world. The boss of the Sky Bandits was apparently brainwashed. I had figured since everyone was saying how he started acting different recently, but the question is who, and why? I'm wondering how this is all going to end up coming around. Will the Capua family get a redemption arc? What does Cassius have to do with this, if anything? What is that suspicious device that was sent to Cassius from an unidentified person? Gotta say, the intrigue has me hooked and I'm excited to see the payoff. Chapter 2: Madrigal of the White Magnolia Wow, what an opener this chapter had. Olivier was an operative for Erebonia this whole time and his goal was to get to Cassius for some reason. Honestly would have never suspected him in a million years. It reminds me of how I was shocked that Josette was a two-timer when that was revealed in the Prologue. I couldn't imagine what he wants with Cassius, though. He's either plotting something nefarious, or he's like Van Hohenheimwhere he comes off as suspicious but is actually the true hero, and the reason why he's gone is so he can do what needs to be done to be that hero. I went to Varenne Lighthouse before travelling to Ruan and met the crotchety old man Vogt. When I came back in response to a job he posted on the job board, there was a neat line of dialogue where they acknowledged they already met. I really loved that detail since they could have easily started it with "Oh hey, Bracers! I have a job!" but instead they got reacquainted. Matron Therese seems like such a genuine woman, though to be honest I'm not crazy on the kids. That being said, when the Orphanage was set on fire and they became trapped, I was actually worried they might not make it out, but fortunately they did and we were going to bring them justice, but Clem had to stick his nose into it and went to fight the Ravens himself. He's just a kid, I know, but still man, think before you act! But the little backstory on Agate being a big wig in the Ravens was cool. He comes off like a jerk, but I'm guessing when we get stronger he'll respect us more...maybe. I wasn't as invested in the whole Jenis arc as I thought I would be. I think it's because the pacing is so weird. I mean, we went from investigating an arson case that almost resulted in multiple deaths, to getting the case ripped right from us and we go off to participate in a school festival. It would have been better if the Jenis stuff happened first, then the investigation stuff. Also most of the NPC's names just say "Visitor" instead of being their actual name. What kind of blasphemy is this!? The play was pretty interesting. I'm betting that there's some foreshadowing in there for what's to come. I honestly had to watch it a second time on Youtube to fully understand it, because to be honest the gender-swap gimmick tripped me up a bit. But I still enjoyed it well enough. The unique portraits looked great, too. Joshua's "I'm so done with this world" look while in costume is a mood and I love it. BOY when it was who Gilbert was talking to those black-geared men my jaw dropped. I did have to think for a good minute who he was even the butler of, but then I remembered it was Dalmore. He came off as such a cool dude but he ended up being a snake, too. My heart can only take so much betrayal, Falcom! Though, there's been this clear theme of these big players not having autonomy over their actions. Both in this case and the guy we fought at the thieves' hideout, they had no recollection of what they did after we kicked their butt. I'm guessing the Earth King invited them to Lake Laogai? Apparently there are super strong orbments out there that the Church doesn't know about, like the Chronos one that Dalmore had. "Had" being past tense, because the device Estelle had deus-ex-machina'd the relic into oblivion. How convenient it did that just before Joshua was about to be killed and no sooner lol. I'm guessing that Cassius might have predicted this situation happening, so set up circumstances for Estelle to have that device while he was away. Of course, the question still remains on what he's actually doing. At this point I'm expecting him to be gone until the finale where it'll be a whole twist what he was up to. General Thoughts: The worldbuilding is very intriguing, and I really like the places we've visited so far. I really like it when game worlds have a sense of place. All open worlds have a field there, a lake there, a mountain way out there, etc., but what does wonders for me when it comes to immersion is having a large amount of named locations and landmarks. It makes the world feel more populated and meaningful. The Xenoblade series and Breath of the Wild do this very well. I was initially trying to do all hidden sidequests, but then I realized I missed out on BP because I made wrong dialogue choices, so getting a perfect rating was impossible at that point. So I'm saving the hidden stuff for a second playthrough unless I actually stumble upon them, but I will be doing all the quests posted on the guild's board. Characters are still great, and I can't wait to see what twists are in store for them. It's obvious something big is going on with Joshua, and I'm sure there's something with Estelle, too. The Duke is an entitled piece of crap, but I love Phillip and how done he is with having to put up with all his shenanigans. Mayor Dalmore seemed like such a great guy, but the plot had other plans (that's not a complaint). I love that contemplative NPC that always sits on the bridge near the entrance of Ruan. Kloe was pretty nice, though to be honest I don't have too much to say about her other than that. Maybe I'm just sleeping on her, but she didn't stand out an incredible amount to me. I am aware of the existence of Ouroboros and what they generally are. I'm going to say I'm reasonably sure the guys in black that Gilbert met with are part of that organization. This was an incredibly long post, but hopefully you found it interesting and are anticipating my thoughts on the back half. Sorry my thoughts on Chapter 1 weren't as in depth. Naturally I remember more of Chapter 2 since it just happened; I just wrote down various thoughts I had while looking back on the Bracer Notebook for reference. When I started, I wanted to finish this game before the 17th so I could start Paper Mario: The Origami King on time, but whatever, this game is worth it. See you again after the ending!
[first] [prev] [next] T'Nok was born a warrior caste male. As large as a Terran warborg at just over three meters, his blade arms were thick and highly honed, his gripping hands were strong, and his legs were thick and powerful. Before the P'Thok Liberation he would have undoubtedly been eaten during his first mating, his coloration and physique and intellect making him highly desirable. His cranium was well developed and his school scores put him at the top of his classes. The tattoo on his abdomen from the Bongistan University of Lumbering Meat Beast Ford was a source of pride for him and his sash proclaimed to every female and male who saw him that he was not only a prime physical specimen but his intellect made him highly desirable. The fact that he was a reknown crysteel architect made him wealthy and highly sought after to grow the elaborate living crystal domiciles the higher caste females so preferred. More than a females would see him and clean their bladearms while they stared at him. Which was why he was glad that birth control and ice cream was a thing. He liked his head. He had been designing a particularly challenging birthing chamber for a shipping company matron and decided to go out and enjoy a bowl of ice cream, perhaps even a banana split, to relax and sweep load bearing computations from his mind. On the trip in his comfortable travel-disc he loaded his favorite game and spent time arranging coins just right for a virtual Terran monkey to grab as it bounced off of walls and objects. It helped discharge the formula from his datalink implant and reset his nervous system. The ice cream parlor that he preferred was high end and upscale. The bench seats were made of red dyed animal skins in an arcane process that produced soft but firm red leather. All of the edges of surfaces were made of chrome. Each table had a delightful radio that ensured that those sitting at the booths could listen to old style Treana'ad music as the waitresses, wearing large wigs and elaborate white costumes, would roll around on the skates on all four of their legs. He liked the coloration of the ice cream artist working that day, her skill with carving ice cream floats with her sterilized bladearms made him hum in satisfaction. The sight of the backdrop, showing a Treana'ad on a long board, balancing with an ice cream cone in one hand and a cigarette on the other, as he used the board to skim along the inside of an ocean wave, reminded him that he was going to go foot-disc or foot-board surfing with some friends next week. He double-checked his implant to make sure the appointment was locked in. His friends had all certified their RSVP's and while he waited for the waitress he made sure to order high quality bonfire wood, special order ice cream, and actual Terran Dark Continent Wonderbeast steaks to cook over the open flame. The waitress took his order, a rainbow tower of sherbet, left him a complimentary cigarette and book of matches, and skated away, tapping her bladearms together in tune with the jaunty song that was playing. "Hey, T'Nok," came a voice. Crap, it's J'Vik, T'Nok thought to himself. He found the other Treana'ad somewhat boorish, with poor taste in ice-cream and worse taste in poetry that he tried to inflict upon everyone around him. The problem was, like T'Nok, J'Vik was warrior-caste born, which meant that T'Nok had to be at least polite to him in public. Only J'Vik fancied himself a 'warrior poet' and suffered a fundamental misunderstanding of what that actually meant. T'Nok looked up and saw that J'Vik was wearing a beatnik on his head. One of those flattened hats the humans called berets. Which T'Nok thought was funny, since the phonetic sounds of 'beret' meant 'delicious looking' in his native language. Only J'Vik would walk around proclaiming that his head looked delicious with his hat, T'Nok mused, managing to keep from laughing by lighting a cigarette. The other male sat down and T'Nok made a mental bet with himself that the other male would try to stick T'Nok with the tab. "Did you hear the news? Everyone is talking about it," J'Vik said, completely unaware of the three barely mature females in the next booth over snickering about his hat and wondering if his head was as delicious as J'Vik was claiming. All three of them had the shiny carapaces of someone who had molted within the last week. Two of them were wondering if they should lure the 'warrior poet' back to their nests, share him, and then discuss on the satisfaction they got from the taste, consistency, and volume of J'Vik's head. T'Nok calmed his anxiety over the three females, who would undoubtedly eat a male's head, birth control or no birth control, just because their just matured primal instinct told them too, and enjoy a nice bowl of chocolate fudge cheesecake ripple afterwards. Barely mature females were dangerous, everyone knew that, but there was always 'That Guy' who thought that his head was armor plated. All of his life T'Nok had been careful not to be 'That Guy'. He'd known a few. J'Vik definitely fell in the "That Guy" category. "I have been busy with my work. My client is most eager for me to complete my work," T'Nok said, exhaling smoke through his forward legs. "Got a smoke?" J'Vik asked. "Alas, I did not bring a pack along. Perhaps when you order?" T'Nok said. "Here, I have one," one of the females said, leaning over the back of the bench and offering a menthol cigarette. "You can have it," she said, staring at J'Vik's beatnik. The other two slowly cleaned their bladearms with their mandibles, their compound eyes sparkling as they watched their friend offer the cigarette. "Thank you, pretty," J'Vik said, fluttering his antenna at the female. She turned around with a titter and rubbing her wings together, looking smugly at her two companions, as J'Vik lit the menthol. Don't be That Guy, T'Nok thought to himself. "I'm surprised you didn't hear. It's pretty big news, especially for your caste," J'Vik said somewhat smugly. "You are too concerned with castes," T'Nok said, shaking his head. "We are free of castes." "Mm-hmm,' J'Vik said, making T'Nok want to roll his eyes but his eyes weren't designed in such a way. "Easy for you to say." J'Vik preened for a moment. Oh, warrior, who has everything he pleases Cannot I have a bowl that you have not cleaned For I am but a worker In this society of ours J'Vik said. He preened for a moment, ignorant of the giggling of the three females and the flat out laughter from two matrons watching over a clutch of a dozen little hatchlings. "I wrote that," J'Vik said. "You're not worker caste," T'Nok reminded him. "Poetry transcends caste," J'Vik said, smugly cleaning his antenna with his bladearms. T'Nok tapped his bladearms in a shrug. "I am not one for poetry," T'Nok said. Not quite true, he quite enjoyed Hard Core Rigellian Saurian Gangster Rap. He particularly enjoyed the recent poetry-song 'I got yer eggs right here, suckah' by the Big Tail Ganstas. "You caste often is not," J'Vik said. "Still, I would have thought that you would be excited by the news." T'Nok gave a sigh. "What news?" "The Confederacy voted to go to war this morning," J'Vik said, excitement in his voice. T'Nok froze. He had to close his opaque eye-shields for moment as the horror rolled through his mind. History requirements in school had ensured he'd been exposed to plenty of media he would have preferred to avoid. Only someone like J'Vik would be happy that uncounted sentient beings will kill each other, he thought to himself. "You're excited, I can tell," J'Vik said. "I knew that news would speak to you and excite you." "Have you ever been to TerraSol?" T'Nok asked carefully. He signalled one of the waitresses to bring him a pack of smokes, changed his mind, and asked for a powersmoker, a 'vape' as the humans called it along with a swamp-apple flavored cartridge. J'Vik gripped his hands together in a frown. "Why? Oh, because the Terrans will undoubtedly be fighting in the war?" T'Nok had to resist the urge to hold the smaller male down and allow the three females to eat his head. "I take it you'll be signing up right away?" J'Vik asked. T'Nok managed not to sigh, turning and thanking the waitress for the power-smoker and tipping her a handful of credits for her ability not to snicker at J'Vik's beatnik. "Why would I do that? I don't know one end of a power-rifle from the other," T'Nok said, shrugging again. "I'm sure the Confederate Military can get along just find without me dropping my rifle and accidentally shooting off my own genitals." That made the three girls snicker as they slowly cleaned/sharpened their bladearms, still staring at J'Vik's hat. "But the Confederacy is going to war," J'Vik actually sounded confused that T'Nok hadn't jumped up, ran out into the parking lot, and immediately fired off a power-rifle into the air. "Which is a profession and activity best left to skilled professionals," T'Nok shrugged. "The closest I've been to warfare is I watched the episode of The Nitrogen Seven when they robbed the Terran Army base only to discover that they'd just stolen a bunch of Terran pornographic magazines instead of the Commander's secret ice cream recipe, and that series is a Tri-Vid comedy." "Well," J'Vik preened with smugness for a moment. "I heard they're going to start a draft. I'm sure such a prime specimen of the warrior caste such as yourself will be right at the top of the list." T'Nok shook his head. "A draft is as likely as," he stopped himself from saying 'You writing decent poetry' and instead got out "the Digital Omnimessiah appearing in the bathroom to bless the faucets." The females giggled to each other. "It's all the talk on the Net Boards," J'Vik said. "I would suggest not spending so much time on the Boards," T'Nok scoffed. "Just last week you were telling me that there was going to be a chocolate shortage by now, but here we are and the prices are the same." "Peak chocolate is real," J'Vik said, straightening up, his wings rubbing in anxiety. "Pfft, you sound like a Precursor," T'Nok said. "There is only enough chocolate for me." The girls snickered again. "Well, of course, you wouldn't notice any shortages. Your caste never does," J'Vik said. T'Nok took a long pull off of the power-smoker and exhaled through his legs, feeling irritation rise up. If we were still having castes, I'd tear your bladearms off by now, he thought to himself. No, not my education, not my years of study and hard work even sacrificing social gatherings, but no, it's all my caste, all my coloration and size. It doesn't even matter we're the same caste to you. "Hmmph, you're feeling annoyed because you know I'm right," J'Vik said, his antenna flicking with smug assurance. "You realize you're warrior caste too," T'Nok pointed out. He didn't point out that J'Vik would have been eaten as a hatchling if the caste system was still in place. J'Vik might have been warrior caste but his coloration was poor, he was small for a male, and his vestigial wings were off pitch when he rubbed them. Worse than that, his poetry was execrable and he had put off education to create poetry and live off of his parent's wealth. That made J'Vik sit quietly for a moment. The waitress came by and J'Vik ordered a triple chocolate destructor bomb with double-fudge. She didn't leave a complimentary cigarette and T'Nok almost busted out laughing. "When are you signing up for the war?" J'Vik said once both of their ice cream had been delivered. The three barely mature females had ordered half-bowls and were giggled to each other, still eyeing J'Vik's head. J'Vik, of course, started eating his ice cream like it was going to vanish while T'Nok savored his, letting it partially melt and mix properly. "Never. Me joining the military would be suspected of an enemy plot," T'Nok answered. "I would be so incompetent as a warrior they would suspect me to be an enemy agent." "I figured you'd be braver," J'Vik said, pushing his empty bowl away. "Where's your caste pride?" That made T'Nok sit up straight, reaching for the power-smoker to mask his pheromones of anger. "Don't go there, J'Vik. You and I are the same birth-caste, but that does not give you the right to insult me." "Insult is never given only taken," J'Vik quoted, sounding smug. "I thought a prime example of the warrior caste such as yourself would be more inured against perceived insults." Really? Quoting Terran stoicism at me? Well, let's see about that. I've about had it with your subtle insults, T'Nok thought, not bothering to pick up the power-smoker in order to let the other male realize how angry T'Nok was. "J'Vik, if you feel your ability to attract mates is so threatened by my very existence to the point of attempting to goad me into joining a profession I would be incompetent at, in hopes I would be killed in some far off struggle, then perhaps you should attempt to reconcile that with the obvious issue that you are too cowardly to sign up to go to war despite being warrior caste yourself," T'Nok said, tapping the edge of his spoon on the bowl. Every female in the ice cream parlor, even the waitresses, burst out laughing. The high pitched squeals, the humming of wings, even the chirping of matrons rubbing their back legs together filled the parlor. J'Vik went completely still. Finish him! T'Nok heard in his mind and he tapped his ice cream bowl with a bladearm tip making it ring as he continued speaking, delivering the final bladearm thrust. "I'm sure if the enemy attacks you can drive them off with that detestable whining you insist is poetry that you instead inflict upon us all every time you see another male that appears to be content with his own life due to the glorious fact that he is not you," T'Nok finished. Even the other males joined in with the laughter. "Ice pack for table nine to treat that burn!" A male called out. "Confederate statutes don't allow you to own someone like that!" a female laughed. "Quick, molt your shell and run off before he realizes your husk isn't you!" another female giggled. Someone threw the image of J'Vik up on the ice cream parlor's display with the caption "LOCAL MALE MURDERED BY WORDS" underneath. The image of J'Vik looked up as a shadow covered him just in time to be crushed by the words "U R PO-EHT!" J'Vik didn't move the entire time, pheromones of anger rolling off of him. The three barely mature females sniffed the air and perked up, clicking their mandibles and rubbing their bladearms together in excitement. One dipped the tip of her bladearm in the ice cream in front of her and carefully cleaned it as she stared at J'Vik's head. When the laughter died J'Vik slowly looked around, then back at T'Nok. "You're caste..." he started loudly. "We're the same birth-caste, J'Vik," T'Nok answered slightly louder. T'Nok held up his gripping hands and flexed his fingers. "Insult is only taken never given," T'Nok quoted back. "How dare you insult me in such a manner," J'Vik said. "That quote is not meant for someone intentionally insulting someone the way you have." "Put up," T'Nok said, raising his gripping hands and flexed his fingers. He flexed his wrists. "Or shut up," T'Nok finished. J'Vik clattered out of the booth. "A Gripping Hand Challenge it is, then, T'Nok. In the parking lot. Right now." "Traditionally I would choose the location," T'Nok said, moving out of the bench seat. "But that's fine with me." J'Vik was opening and closing his gripping hands, obviously trying to impress everyone with his grip. The matrons, mature females, and the three just mature females all hurried out of the ice-cream parlor with almost unseemly haste. The mixing of anger pheromones of two males making the veins in their wings flush with blood. Even the waitresses and ice cream sculptors came out. The males of course, hung back. Not wanting to get involved. A matron, a half-dozen small hatchlings hanging on her abdomen, moved forward with grace and elegance. She sniffed at the air, tasting the anger pheromones in the air. "Can this only be settled by challenge and not a cigarette and conversation?" She asked. "Perhaps a cigarette or two will mask the scent of your anger and allow you to discuss your emotions with more cultural maturity than you are feeling now?" "If J'Vik wishes to submit I will accept," T'Nok said, looming over the smaller warrior-caste male. Several of the females breathed deep. "Insulted I have been "Words cutting most cruel "I will not remain "Insulted without response," J'Vik quoted poetry that made several of the females snicker. He looked around almost smugly. "I created that." More giggles and J'Vik went rigid. "Gripping hand challenge it is," the matron said. The little ones one her back raised up their bladearms in joy, their immature minds reacting to the angry pheromones in the air. One had ice-cream on his head, between his eyes. T'Nok held still as J'Vik moved into position. They locked hands, interlacing fingers. Their bladearms clashed, held away from each other's bodies and pointed away from one another. The matron lifted up a handkerchief and waved it between the two males. Several cars had stopped to watch. Challenges were exciting to witness. They were less common over the last few centuries, but still occured with enough frequency that they could not be outlawed. The handkerchief fell from her hand and danced away on the breeze. The larger of the three just-mature females hurried over and picked it up, bringing it to her face and inhaling deeply as she moved back over to her friends and passed it to the next biggest one. T'Nok didn't notice. He just locked his wrists and tensed his fingers as he pushed out and down with his bladearms. You're grip is nothing. I used to play this with my drunk frat-brothers in Bongistan, T'Nok thought to himself as the other male squeezed tightly, attempted to twist T'Nok's wrists backward, and pushed ineffectively with his bladearms. Getting a Doctorate in Architectural Engineering with a minor in Materials Science had required over a decade of study, and during that time T'Nok had tempered his natural aggressiveness by socializing with his Terran Descent Human school mates. A matron tittered as J'Vik had to open his wings slightly to breathe as he kept struggling to move T'Nok's wrists or bladearms. "Yield," T'Nok ordered. The sun was shimmering down, warming him, and the sweetness of the day's nitrogen level gave him strength. "No," J'Vik's feet ground against the tarmac as he attempted to lean into the gripping contest. The way his back feet scrabbled on the pavement made several females giggle and the smell of his anger increased. T'Nok began to bring his hands forward, squeezing tightly. He knew that J'Vik had figured that T'Nok's grip would be weak, that T'Nok spent his days working with architecture and computer programs. T'Nok also shaped the crystal of his creations with his own hands rather than robots. The tiny imperfections is what gave his works their beauty. J'Vik's hands began to bend back and his bladearms were forced down and outward to the point of pain and still T'Nok just stared at the other male as he increased the pressure. J'Vik's legs gave out and he crashed to the ground, giving a high keen of pain. T'Nok released his hands and stepped back as J'Vik moaned and lifted his hands and arms protectively against his thorax. The thick sour smell of defeat emanated from defeated male. The matron stepped forward, an ornate and bejeweled power-smoker held up to her mandibles with one beringed hand as she inhaled deeply and expelled smoke from her legs and abdomen. The smoke covered the two males, wiping away the smell of anger, contention, and defeat. "Thank you, your grace," T'Nok told the wealthy matron. "Of course," she replied. The little ones on her abdomen raised their bladearms and gave small shrieks of victory to him. "And thank you, little ones," T'Nok said. The three just matured females, their just-molted carapaces shining and glittering in the sun, rushed forward to comfort J'Vik. The gathered Treana'ad moved back into the ice cream parlor, gossiping about what they'd just seen, many of them showing one another the recordings they'd made of the contest, admiring one another's angles or artistic filters. T'Nok was thinking. He had been struggling with nitrogen release in the garden of the birthing chamber. Enough to encourage the eggs to hatch and the grubs to mature, but not exposing it to the air or depend too much on computerized systems. Tantervellian ferns. They uptake, fix, and release nitrogen on a steady pattern, he mused as he returned to his table. The ice cream parlor's central air system had cleared away the heavy pheromones of anger and T'Nok sat down, moving the holo-emitter from next to the radio to the center of the table. He transferred his planning file to the holo-emitter and idly moved things around with one bladearm as he slowly ate and savored his ice cream. J'Vik left with the three females, who were comforting and praising him. One of them had a fancy hover-disc, painted bright attention getting hyper-blue with ultra-violet accents. All four of them sat on the comfortable seats and the bigger female activated the privacy screen as the hover-disc floated away. Paying attention to his work, T'Nok didn't notice J'Vik leaving or the interested looks from the females. He went through another bowl before he was finished, leaning back and looking at the chamber. The ferns provided just the right edging. The grubs, which would burrow under the ground and eat roots, would avoid the ferns due to dirt, sticking to the sand of the middle of the chamber. It would give the chamber the right nitrogen cycle in the right levels without requiring HVAC systems that the matron was concerned might harm her grubs. On the way home, relaxing in his hover-disc, one of the public warning billboards caught his eye. J'Vik was featured prominently. Below him a scrolling banner read: "UNCONTROLLED EMOTIONS KILL! DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD LIKE HE DID! 836 LOST IN THIS CITY THIS WEEK ALONE! SMOKING SAVES LIVES!" Right as he passed the huge sign a stamp appeared across J'Vik. "DON'T BE THAT GUY!" T'Nok laughed all the way home. [first] [prev] [next]
[Long, Effort Post] Elixir Golem & Battle Healer: An in-depth analysis of why they synergize so well, why they are so hard to balance, and what in the heck we can possibly do to create balance.
Ayo, it's yojojo, and today I wish to offer my assistance regarding the EG+BH situation. I've been trying to restrict myself from making balance posts about just one or two cards alone (other than the Mirror one), but considering how complicated this problem actually is for just being two cards, I believe it meets the requirements I've set for myself to make a post about it. Let's get into it, shall we?
Table of Contents (😏)
Table of Contents (😏)
Linking Together The Synergies
Why Isn't There a Simple Fix?
Possible Complex Fixes
Linking Together The Synergies
Before I can even begin to describe the problems we face when balancing these cards, we need to go over some very important points so that we can be on the same page, and those points of interest are the monstrous synergies these two cards have with each other. Some may think it is as simple as "EG becomes a swarm," which does make her healing more powerful, but it goes much deeper than that. First off, let's consider their performance when they aren't paired together and dissect who they are individually. Let's just look at the Battle Healer just for a moment. Pretend Elixir Golem doesn't exist for the sake of analysis. What is she? She is a healer. What do healers do? Healers supply nearby troops with a surplus of HP, and will continue to do so until she dies, meaning she can technically heal troops for an indefinite amount of time. How is this ability balanced out in CR?
For simplicity's sake, she will only activate her heal when she attacks an enemy. Because she relies on hitting targets to deliver healing, she can't be too efficient of a killer, or else she won't get enough healing done.
Since she can heal herself with the same attack, her heal cannot be too strong, either. In specific, she shouldn't be too immortal for her cost when she locks on to your tower.
Because she needs low damage to do what she is supposed to do and low healing to not be overpowered, the rest of her stats must focus on giving her the right amount of hit points.
All of these are a problem.
Because she needs low damage to do considerable healing, she cannot defend herself very well and relies heavily on support cards to protect her, which in return does not allow her to do much healing.
Because her healing is limited due to the fact that she can heal herself, the healing she gives out is negligible. She needs to dedicate a lot of time to Healing before she makes a considerable impact on the match.
All of these downsides can be resolved if you give her enough Hit Points to allow her the time she needs to do her job, but there is a problem with this that won't allow her having more HP. I will explain it later in the post as it will tie with something else. Point is, as of now, she dies too quickly if unprotected.
Because of all these problems, she is a completely dead card. Outside of Elixir Golem decks, that is. She is at best an inferior 4 elixir Knight with the DPS of a Royal Recruit. Garbage. Now, let's look at Elixir Golem. Elixir Golem is a high risk, high reward card that lets you place a very hefty tank for cheap, but becomes expensive when it dies. The goal when using a card like this is to recover enough of an advantage to make up for the disadvantage you will soon face when your tank dies. Due to this design, it can be very punishing if you already have a lead, essentially being a deal-sealer. How is this ability balanced out in CR?
The way the cheap-becomes-expensive system is implemented into CR is by having the tank break down into 4 individual Blobs that each give the opponent 1 elixir, giving your opponent 4 elixir in total. Considering it gives your opponent an extremely versatile advantage, there needs to be a feature that can make giving your opponent elixir worth it if you work for it, preferably something else versatile.
Considering it goes straight for buildings (so basically the Crown Tower), the redeeming feature it has is offensive aggression. In specific, it offers a large amount of HP with moderate DPS, and moves faster the more damaged it becomes. Seems fitting for a card that punishes by design as it isn't too picky about the situation.
Now, there is some conflict between these two things, and the conflicts can conflict each other as well.
The biggest conflict is how it turns into a swarmy unit. It's not that being more swarmy is a strength (though they do move a lot faster), but rather it is a huge weakness. A single 2 elixir Log being able to dish out 1440 maximum damage on the entire tank (killing the Golemites then hitting all the Blobs that come out at the same time) makes killing the Elixir Golem way too easy, not to mention that most tank killers will still do a ton of work to him on top of that. Right now there is a certain something that prevents him from getting a buff, and it leaves him a weak card.
Due to its aggression, you can run the risk of making it too aggressive (or in other words, making it a 7 elixir tank that you place for 3 elixir), making it difficult to buff.
So now you have a 3 elixir Giant that has twice as many hard counters to it and gives the opponent 4 free elixir. No thanks, I'd rather have the Giant with fewer hard counters and no elixir being given out like a madman. Tada, Elixir Golem is dead. Without the Battle Healer, that is. Both cards by themselves are quite dead. Battle Healer in her current state needs a good tank in front of her in order to survive long enough to do anything meaningful, and because she is 4 elixir, she takes away from what could have been a push that could have brute-forced its way to the tower utilizing a different 4 elixir support card. Doesn't work. Elixir Golem, cheap as it is, suffers from having twice as many counters as a normal tank, limiting how much of an advantage you can get from him greatly and causing huge counterpushes to come your way. Forget it. Are you seeing everything fall together now? Elixir Golem allows for more support behind the push. Two Battle Healer flaws now removed: she no longer takes too much away from a push, and now she has a beefy tank in front of her to keep her alive. Battle Healer heals groups of troops. Two Elixir Golem flaw now reduced: the effects of all damage are slightly less powerful on him, and now his support troops can make up for his elixir dump much more effectively due to the Battle Healer constantly healing them up. Tada, all flaws are effectively made up for when these two cards are together, and now you have a very, very strong pair. And this is a bit of a problem when it comes to balancing these two cards.
Why Isn't There a Simple Fix?
Well, first off, I do want to mention something that I didn't mention in the previous section for reasons that can only be described as "I couldn't put it in and make the paragraphs flow at the same time": they both have excessive power in numbers, both together and individually. 2 or 3 Elixir Golems can easily brute force their way to take towers just by having too many Hit Points to bleed through, and getting 2 or 3 Elixir Golems down is not hard to do, even without a Mirror. Same goes for Battle Healer, being easy to get 2 or more of them down without a Mirror. Battle Healers can heal each other up to the point of immortality, which can make them unstoppable. Together, the effects of stacking them together can become oppressively strong, being almost guaranteed to take at least one tower if not all three of them. With that out of the way, back on topic: Why isn't there a simple fix? Let's look at how things are now: For Battle Healer, this vile synergy with the Elixir Golem prevents her from getting a very important HP buff that would make her viable in other decks. If you buff her HP now, Elixir Golem would benefit too much from it and make them become a completely unstoppable duo as the support troops will just never die. So, the simple HP buff she needs cannot be done. For Elixir Golem, this synergy does not allow for any sort of direct buff to make up for his extreme weaknesses, for the same reasons as mentioned in the previous paragraph. So no simple buffs. Now what about just a little more complex fixes that can still be considered simple by keeping the design of the card? Considering how Battle Healer simply needs a tank that can make up for her elixir cost, almost any Elixir Golem change you can think of can just be thrown out the window. More swarms, less swarms, different distribution of HP, different distribution of Elixir, faster movement speed, slower movement speed, doesn't matter since all she needs to do is keep support troops alive for a certain amount of time and boom, tower down. Making him more expensive + buffs won't work until you do it to a point where you just can't support your Elixir Golem enough with or without Battle Healer to make up for his massive elixir dump, effectively killing his use rates. Tank killers and splash units will still delete him regardless of his stats, and higher elixir cost means a more massive positive elixir trade for the opponent. The only ones that could work are ones that completely remove Elixir Golem's tanky side and replace it with something else incredibly powerful and ridiculous, such as making him a Mini Pekka that goes for buildings. At that point you might as well make Royal Giant have 1000 HP and make him Very Fast. What about Battle Healer changes? Making Battle Healer do less healing for more of anything is a big no-no. It would simply make her even more of an inferior Knight and basically make her anything but a healer. It would definitely make Elixir Golem synergies less powerful, but if anything, it would simply kill her use rates. Removing passive healing in exchange for a buff is again a big no-no. She needs HP really badly and this would once again make her more of an inferior Knight, and this wouldn't even address the disgusting Elixir Golem synergy at all. You can't nerf her healing, period. It sucks already since she's so reliant on having something tank for her, leaving her unable to heal much of anything other than the tank and one support troop. The healing is only a problem with Elixir Golem since he provides so much cheap tankage for her, still allowing for a lot of support units to be dumped with her. Her healing shouldn't get nerfed any further because of him, as it would only serve to kill the card afterwards. Any other change made to her that would try to keep her design would be pointless, considering that her Healing is the only thing that matters in an Elixir Golem push. You understand why there is no simple fix for them now, right? So what can we do now? We can't just kill the cards, even if they are oppressive as hell when they are together.
Possible Complex Fixes
At this point, the only way you are going to fix these cards is by changing their design a bit, but just a bit. Design changes are things like adding/removing abilities, changing their elixir costs drastically, or really any enormous stat change (like +50% HP on Bowler) that changes how you play the card a bit. All things considered, I think both of these cards have met the requirements needed to call for a design change, having very little use rates in every mode (yet still oppressive) and being completely dead cards when separated. A reoccuring problem when it comes to balancing is the Battle Healer's need for a tank to get things done and Elixir Golem's extreme dependency on Battle Healer's healing to get his value back using multiple healed support units. With this in mind, I've cracked one solution that could for-sure work to make these cards independent of each other. What could make Battle Healer less in need of a tank and what could make Elixir Golem less dependent on the Battle Healer? This:
Battle Healer -- Elixir Cost 4 -> 6, Hit Points +45.5% (1425 -> 2073), Damage +39.8% (123 -> 172), Added Death Heal (same as Heal Spirit Heal, 2.5sec delay before delivering the heal)
That's right. I increased her elixir cost greatly. And it's a glorious way to make Elixir Golem less dependent on Battle Healer. The more expensive a card is, the less total cards you can place into your push, and for Battle Healer and Elixir Golem, that's a huge disadvantage. Elixir Golem needs as many reliable support troops as he can get to make up for the 4 elixir he will inevitably give to the opponent (and Battle Healer ain't one of those reliable support troops, just a support for other support troops), and Battle Healer needs plenty of support troops around her to keep herself alive. With Battle Healer being 6 elixir, you now have 9 elixir worth of defenseless crap to support when putting the two cards in the same push instead of the previous 7 elixir worth of defenseless crap. Try placing that at the bridge! That's more expensive than a Golem, and it is a Golem with double the hard counters! The fact that she is 6 elixir alone is enough to make the combo questionable, which would mean that the synergies between the two cards might become reduced enough to the point of allowing for a proper and safe buff to the Elixir Golem. What if it's not enough and the combo is still too strong? Make Elixir Golem 4 elixir, or even make Battle Healer 7 elixir. Making the combo more expensive is the key to nerfing the synergy, and I can bet a lot of money that just one more elixir on top of this change would nuke the synergy. How do you make 6 elixir Battle Healer good? Simple. Since her synergies are reduced significantly/nuked with Elixir Golem now, you can do almost anything to buff her. And you know what I buffed? I gave her the HP she has needed since her introduction to the game to allow her to manage without requiring a tank in front of her. Now she is the tank. I originally planned to give her more health than what the change lists above, but considering her new cost, I decided to swap some of that HP out to make her more like a Giant Skeleton for the sake of comparison, since her stats were already fairly close to that of a Giant Skeleton. Gave her more damage to match the GS's attack pattern, and gave back the lost healing (from the damage buff and less HP than originally planned) as a guaranteed sizable Death Heal. So she is basically an inverted Giant Skeleton. Exact stats are up to debate, and getting the stats even a little bit wrong can have catastrophic results, but I want you to focus on the potential of the direction this change is going moreso than the exact stats, as those can be figured out later. This also limits how much you can stack Battle Healers, which is also a big plus. Also makes Clone a good and somewhat healthy pair with the death heal considering using Clone with Elixir Golem is a fat mistake. That is my favorite change so far. The reason why I love it so much is because despite its complexity, little changes in terms of how you use her, yet it can fix so much. She would still feel the same as she always did, but now instead of being a mini-tank, she is a regular tank and doesn't necessarily need a tank in front of her to function. For 2 more elixir that is, but for what you get in return, that's okay. This isn't my only change. I got another one in case you didn't like the first one. Death Heal gave me another idea, but I'm on the fence about this one for its controversy:
Battle Healer -- Hit Points -29.8% (1425 -> 1000), Added Death Heal (same as Heal Spirit Heal, 0.5sec delay before delivering the heal), + any one specific buff you can think of
A much simpler yet much more drastic redesign than the previous one, this would make Battle Healer much easier to kill even when behind an Elixir Golem, which is a killer nerf that many people want right now. We're talking completely nuking Elixir Golem decks. In return, she is given a completely new role: a sacrificial tank, sorta like Lumberjack or Ice Golem. Her death heal can make her a great tank for win conditions like Royal Hogs, Hog Riders, Balloons, Minion Hordes, etc. The main problems I'd like to point out with this change is how drastically it changes the card and how it makes certain aspects about her null. It makes her passive and active healing pretty much useless, and if you were to buff her damage for balancing reasons, it would become even more useless. Point is, it would kind of ruin a lot of what makes the healer, well, a healer. She'd become a Heal Spirit delivery. I'm not saying that it wouldn't work, but it definitely makes her a lot less unique and takes away a lot from what she can do. On top of that, she can still be cancer in an Elixir Golem deck if you can't kill her. So far those are the only two changes I've come up with. Question from a few of you: Why not change Elixir Golem instead? Answer: Like I said in the previous section, all the Battle Healer needs is a hefty tank and a lot of support troops with her to be an oppressive monster. Making a design change to Elixir Golem that would get around that issue is flat-out ridiculous, considering you'd have to make him ridiculously less tanky (and factor in all 3 stages/forms of the Elixir Golem on top of that) and then make up for it. If you can come up with a proper Elixir Golem design change that nerfs the synergies with Battle Healer and buffs his use rates overall while still being within the realm of reason, then go for it, but I haven't quite found a change that can do so. I'll stick with the Battle Healer change for now.
I created this post as an effort to chip in and do my part as the unpaid theorist of Clash Royale. I do this for fun and then sulk as it gets buried, and then "I'll fuckin' do it again. [a-hyuck]" I don't know what to tell you other than that I'm mentally insane for doing this over and over again and expecting something different each time. But hey, at least I enjoy being mentally insane when the next day rolls over, so that's all that matters. Anywho, I wish I could be... more. I wish to be more... impactful. Significant. I wanna make a bigger boom than just making supposed "fan" posts on reddit, because I believe I can offer good insight on multiple things about this game (when I'm not in a bad mood), not just card balancing. And I want to do it because this game has a special place in my heart. It's a valuable source for me as it is one of the very, very few things I can completely dedicate my mind to when it comes to coming up with solutions to problems. My "one-trick" ability, so to speak. (As to whether that "one-trick" ability is actually good is up for debate, but I'd like to be given the chance to prove myself.) If anyone is looking for someone like this for whatever project they have concerning Clash Royale, by all means hit me up. I'm looking for the opportunity but I'm having a hard time finding them. Thank you all for your time. If my responses are late, then that's because I went to bed or suddenly became busy. Ask questions, don't be dicks, be calm, be collected, and most importantly, be professional.
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