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I am not a top-100 player, as given the inevitable RNG of effects, matchups and draws in card games, and the lack of rewards for ranking up in LoR, I simply don't see the point in painstakingly grinding up to such a level. The highest I've climbed is low Diamond, but considering the above knowledge, I believe that at a certain skill level (perhaps at around Platinum), it's more about how much time one can put in than how skilled they are. HOWEVER, considering all this, I have the absolute conviction that this deck is a top-100 worthy deck.
This is the only deck that I've played since Day 1 of Call of the Mountain, with various modifications, and I believe that it is a completely undiscovered meta unicorn. I've never faced a similar deck on ladder, and my deckbuilding experiments with any other archtypes have left me completely unsatisfied with the lack of interaction and agency, as well as the sheer counterability of the vast majority of tools currently out there. A lot of people are frustrated with the current meta - a lot of points of which are covered by BruisedByGod in his recent video critique. To summarize his main points:
Most answers are completely outclassed by threats
Sheer lack of healing options locks out deckbuilding choices
Most top-tier strategies prey on lack of interactivity (Pirate Burn, Lee Sin OTK, Star Spring)
This is a Control deck which, while originally devised to prey on the inevitably popular Aurelion Sol and Troll Chant and abuse the broken, flexible toolbox of Invoke on Day 1, also manages to both answer all 3 of these problems efficiently.
Lunari Duskbringer x 3
Spacey Sketcher x 3
Lunari Shadestalker x1
Pale Cascade x 3
Unspeakable Horror x 2
Vile Feast x 3
Simply the best available early-game that an Invoke Targon deck could hope to muster - Diana functioning as both early game and late-game removal (we have just enough Nightfall Synergy) for practically no investment, Pale Cascade being legitimately one of the most broken cards currently in the game, and the ping cards also serving a modicum of uses at all stages of a match. Spacey Sketcher has been severely underrated so far - providing critical tools for certain matchups and/or providing early game minions without needing to actually run them (a fundamental weakness of faster decks top-decking late). Its 'discard-replace' synergy with our late-game, as well as Duskpetal Dust and meta-call flex cards is just icing on the cake. Finally, note how every early game card I've chosen scales well and still plays a role as the game goes later; as removal, Elusive blocking, tool-building, Burst-speed Nightfall, pings and cantrip Combat Tricks. This is an often overlooked but fundamental difference between Control early-drops, and aggro early-drops (such as Precious Pet). ~
Sunburst x 3
Vengeance x 3
These two cards, combined with any generated Obliterates, form the only proper removal this deck has - and were the catalyst for me creating this deck in the first place. All three of these removal types leave almost NO room for the opponent to interact with them, and I believe that is the sole condition for a high-cost removal spell to be playable in the current game state. NOTE: Ruination is easily and always played around at a high-level of play - and leaves the opponent with ALL of the agency/choice to play around it/bait it exactly how they wish, instead of you (whose only options are to play the card too early and get out-tempo'd afterward, use more than 3 mana elsewhere to catch-up at which point it becomes unplayable, or lose the game to a sudden-attack completely at your opponent's discretion) - the ultimate NO-NO for this deck: I never even considered putting it in. ~
Meta Call Flex Spots
Divergent Paths x 2
At times I feel as if this card could be cut to 1 copy, but right now 2 feels great against the current meta, and drawing into at least one is almost necessary in order to compete with Star Spring (Obliterate is conditional and too great a tempo loss early on). In other metas previously, I've experimented with 1 copy of Passage Unearned, as well as 2 extra copies of Lunari Shadestalker. ~
Literally Everything Else One Could Ever Hope to Need
Lunari Priestess x 2
Solari Priestess x 3
Mountain Scryer x 3
Moondreamer x 3
Starshaping x 3
I still believe that Invoke is one of the most broken mechanics currently in the game. This is one of the heaviest late-game decks I can possibly imaginable, yet the only cards above 5-mana we run are removal, and our mid-game minions and healing straight up provide whatever early OR late-game tools we might possibly need in any matchup - it's simply overly flexible (flexilibity in card games being a MUCH bigger deal than most people give it credit for) and not enough of a tempo/stat sacrifice IMO. I think that Invoke as a mechanic is even stronger when ran in bulk, and especially in a Control deck - as the game goes on slowly you generate a toolbox that can handle just about any dynamic situation that meta decks can throw your way. The spell-mana nerf to Living Legends has balanced it out quite a bit, however the same-nerf to Cosmic Inspiration still hasn't convinced me that it isn't in the top 5 least healthy effects that a game based on carefully stat-balanced of minion trading could ever have (hit me up with your Cosmic Inspiration hate!) - a large proportion our games are won by this disgusting effect. Solari Priestess and Starshaping need no introduction as some of the most popular, utilitarian Invoke cards, however Mountain Scryer and Moondreamer (not so much Lunari Priestess) really put in the work, and I've never seen anyone else play these cards. The former provides crazy mana-advantage as the game goes on given our huge focus on Celestials (it's a shame we can't afford to push its Invoke chances even higher), and the latter has juuussst the right stat distribution at 3/5 to blockade most midgame tempo plays out opponent might go for. NOTE: Aurelion Sol is straight up unnecessary to compete late-game, is always burdensome and clunky draw, ruins our surprise factor (though that doesn't exist anymore with this post being made), and we often outvalue decks running him anyway (don't forget that the original premise of this deck was 'How can I best remove Aurelion?'). ~
Matchups/Strategy (Order Based on Mobalytics Tier List)
Lee Sin (60/40)
A somewhat favored matchup - although more recent lists that have cut Bastion in favor of Nopify may be a bit more in their favor (a proper Ping Counter). Hard mulligan for Spacey Sketcher, Sunburst and our pings. Generating Silence (Equinox) for Mentor of the Stones/Zenith Blade is our main early game goal. Our Mid-to-Late game goal is removing all 3 Lee Sin's at the expense of practically everything else (the rest of their deck is pretty much completely irrelevant, but rushing them down is also pretty much impossible) - after which our win is basically guaranteed.
This matchup is sadly the most binary thing: Sunburst/Vengeance/Ping's VS Lee Sin/Spell Denial/Zenith Blade
The rest of both decks are basically irrelevant other than to slow down the level up/speed up the level up/Draw into above cards
Draw Draw Draw + Always save enough mana to Removal Spell + Ping if the opponent has 4 mana up late game
I believe that we are very, very heavily favored if played properly (although it's a VERY nuanced matchup to play right), and most of our losses come from bricking our early-game draws and/or not drawing/generating a single Starshaping/Golden Sister as their burn damage inevitably builds up. Hard mulligan for all 1/2 cost cards (only keep 1 Pale Cascade with a 1/2 cost minion).
NEVER, EVER play early minions proactively (e.g. NO turn 1 Lunari Duskbringer unless they play something) - only ever match however many minions the opponent has AND trade right away to minimise Make it Rain/TF value (For instance, if you proactively play a minion with nothing to trade it into, and then find yourself needing to play, say, Diana/Solari Priestess later - the opponent is basically guaranteed free additional AOE value: make EVERY chump blocker count)
ALWAYS open attack into Powder Keg's (usually with our single developed minion)
Take ANY trade you can get (even if somewhat unfavorable) to clear both sides of the board going into turn 8 - one of the ways we can lose is if Riptide Rex clears our heavy board and we only have time to develop one chump blocker before the onslaught - especially because Riptide is MUCH stronger against minions than the nexus > Late game, try to keep both sides of the board as empty as possible
If you find yourself with priority against their activated Plunder past turn 8, play small minions to bait out Rex without having to pass the turn OR play larger minions, especially with uneven health like Moondreamer to protect the rest of your board from potential cannons
ALWAYS try to find a NON-Rex'able position late game to develop Golden Sister, and save Pale Cascade if possible to protect her from Noxian Fervor and recover 6 previous health
ALWAYS have enough mana to remove Leviathan if the opponent has more than 8 mana on any given turn (prioritise Leviathan over Swain himself)
Sacrifice minions to TF attacks and remove Zap Sprayfin ASAP to minimise chip damage (which really builds up)
Be careful and make sure you always have a way to prevent Swain connecting with the Nexus (even if they develop him this turn and open attack the next); Pale Cascade is a good tool here
Pirate Aggro (55/45)
We are much more prone to bricking on draws here than Swain/TF, as we need quite a specific hand to deal with their onslaught - This is probably our most draw-dependent, low-agency matchup by far - as face-deck matchups tend to be. In addition - Captain Farron is much more effective against our removal strategy than the likes of Leviathan. Nonetheless, from my experience I think that we're still every-slightly-so favored in this matchup - often winning by the skin of our teeth. Starshaping/Golden Sister are mandatory late-game, and not bricking by not drawing/generating either is also basically a loss. Hard mulligan for all 1/2 drops, and keep a single Sunburst for Gangplank if your hand is already looking great.
There's nothing much to say here given the nature of their deck - pray your draws are good and take the obvious trades
A very unfavored and binary matchup (see below as to why) that has luckily become rarer recently. Mulligan for Removal/Invoke cards.
Save Starshaping for when you can actually make use of the heal (don't just play it on turn 3 because they're 'starting off slowly' - it's very important to maximise your leeway to survive Atrocity later on)
Try to remove Trundle on curve with Sunburst/Vengeance
Generate/Stockpile removal throughout the midgame
Sadly, none of these choices really matter in the end and the match comes down to luck - if Warmother's pulls a Level 1 Tryndamere on their attacking turn, the obvious open attack followed by a loss is all but guaranteed (Vengeance doesn't stop Atrocity in this case - leading to too great a health/tempo loss, and my previous Passage Unearned tech to deal with specifically this scenario simply wasn't worth the dead card in other matchups). We can also lose to a big levelled Trundle, or simply not generating/drawing into enough removal. Sadly these cases happen more often than not. Warmother's generated too much tempo if left unchecked by hard removal for even a single turn so there is little leeway for bad luck.
If Warmothers' timing and Invoke/draws are on our side, the matchup becomes pretty simple - Smartly use about a removal spell on their big guys for about 8 turns, play around Ruination and Atrocity, then cruise to victory.
This deck was basically created on Day 1 specifically to destroy Trundle/Asol. Sadly though, even at 75/25 the matchup is worse than it should be due to the nature of Invoke RNG - if one player draws into Cosmic Inspiration and the other didn't the match is over, full stop + the occasional shenanigans involving The Great Beyond uninteractibly going face and non-stop Living Legends value. Mulligan for Sunburst, Vengeance and pings.
Remove Trundle ASAP with Sunburst (Vengeance/Obliterates are best saved for Asol so getting Sunburst value while Trundle is still unleveled and 6 health is a big deal in terms of removal distribution)
Always try to remove Asol on the first turn he's played with Vengeance chaining into a ping to minimise the opponent's chance of getting game-winning Invoke RNG/matching your late-game value with free Celestials
If you still haven't drawn a ping late game, try to fish for Crescent Strike with Spacey Sketcher
Play around 7-mana Asol (Augur of the Old Ones) as much as possible
Pray you draw Cosmic Inspiration and the opponent doesn't
Discard Aggro (80/20)
I don't know why this deck is considered competitive - maybe because our matchup here is basically as favored as TF/Swain except without any gameplay nuance required on our part. Mulligan for 1-2 drops. Keep Solari Priestess/Sunburst if hand is good. Only necessary statistical losses to bad early draws against an aggro archtype.
Make obvious trades. Play around Mystic Shot on Diana. Chump block Draven/Jinx. Remove Draven/Jinx. Profit.
Another draw dependent, but quite favored matchup. Quite difficult to play though - you need to balance maintaining some modicum of tempo whilst also being able to deal with their crucial threats. Mulligan for 1-2 drops ESPECIALLY Pale Cascade/Pings, and Removal.
DON'T play ANY minion with less than 3 attack from turns 1-4 UNLESS you're getting tempo'd into the ground OR you have Pale Cascade (otherwise Fiora gets a free trade and the opponent gets to use their buffs reactively rather than proactively - giving you less leeway to remove her)
Save ping's for Fiora Barrier's, NOT Fleetfeather Tracker UNLESS you're getting tempo'd into the ground
Save a removal spell and mana for turn 3 Fiora, turn 4 Shen, turn 6 Genevieve and turn 9 Brightsteel UNLESS you're getting tempo'd into the ground
Basically the Pirate Aggro matchup but a tad bit slower and with no burn - giving you more leeway to make up for bad draws both early and late.
Make the obvious trades, pray to draw well and don't to let Genevieve get 2 attacks off
Basically the Trundle/Asol matchup except with no 'must remove ASAP' threats giving you more leeway to make up for bad draws. Celestial RNG and especially Cosmic Inspiration still give them a chance to win as usual. ~
Shyvana Dragons (50/50?)
I surprisingly, haven't faced too much of this deck yet personally, but looking at it's cards compared to ours, I think the matchup would be about 50/50 (an otherwise favourable looking matchup affected a bit by their high tempo removal and guaranteed Cosmic Inspiration in the form of Kadregrin). ~
This matchup is dependent on whether we draw removal for Ashe somewhat on curve, how much tempo they manage to build early on and whether we draw good enough to afford to play around Reckoning. Mulligan for Sunburst, Solari Priestess, Pings and Diana (only if you've already drawn support) as our other standard early drops are all pretty ineffective against theirs.
Remove Ashe ASAP
Try to Vengeance Sejuani on the attack if she directly attacks your Frostbitten minion in order to prevent the free value trade and maintain tempo on board.
Play around Reckoning as much as possible, especially if it wouldn't affect their own board too much compared to yours - maximise your 5+ attack minions to theirs if Reckoning begins to look more likely
Try to bait out an invested attack/Frostbite support for Trifarian Gloryseeker before pinging her - especially because Elixir of Iron is a bit rarer nowadays
Probably our most favored meta-deck matchup, and unfortunately rarer recently. Their win conditions - Kalista, Blighted Caretaker tempo, Neverglade Collector and They Who Endure simply don't stand a chance against our toolbox. Most losses come from unanswered Blighted Caretaker tempo. Mulligan for Spacey Sketcher, Sunburst and Pale Cascade.
ALWAYS pick Silence (For They Who Endure) or Stun (For Blighted Caretaker) off Spacey Sketcher
Try to hold a minion to play on turn 3/4 to kill an attacking Kalista with Pale Cascade AND get the Nightfall card draw
Play as reactively as possible with your pings - playing them proactively will almost always be answered by Glimpse Beyond, and when they run out of gas later on they will be forced to play their Glipmse proactively - your chance to strike!
Silence/Sunburst Blighted Caretaker as it comes down
SAVE Vengeance for They Who Endure - going into the late game, stockpile Silence/Sunburst and Vengeance and maintain enough mana (usually open-attacking) if necessary (IF can still afford to play They Who Endure that turn) to use one of the former followed by Vengeance to counter into their Atrocity: with this line of play, it's basically impossible to lose the combo
The biggest downside and sheer impossible matchup of this archtype. Maokai manages to pack even less interactivity/inevitability than we do, and the nature of our deck gives us no chance of out-tempoing Deep early OR late. Auto-concede. ~
A simpler aggro matchup than the others. Mulligan for 1-2 drops - especially Spacey Sketcher and Diana, as well as Sunburst.
ALWAYS pick the Stun spell off Spacey Sketcher, and save it for Diana, or of lesser priority, Nocturne/Ephemerals off Stalking Shadows
Removing Nocturne ASAP with either Sunburst or Vengeance is a HUGE priority
ALWAYS play around Pale Cascade
Play around Atrocity and Doombeast damage later on in the match
Another matchup that I haven't faced too much of just yet. Mulligan hard for Divergent Paths and Solari Priestess - Once we remove their uninteractive element trump-card in the Landmark win-condition, if we can survive their early tempo, the rest of the match should be a cinch given our heal/health-ignoring conditionless removal for their Champions. ~
Thanks for reading up to this point, and pardon my formatting, the ridiculous length and the sheer pomposity of it all. I still think Invoke is flexible to the point of being broken and the only reason the matchup spread is so good. I also think that with the release of this guide - more people will come to recognise this archtype and the element of surprise affecting enemy mulligans against an assumed more aggro, Nightfall-focused Diana archtype will be lost. People will also know to play around less common cards such as Sunburst, and I expect winrates to fall somewhat across the board. To conclude this guide, I'd like to say that this is this is not a healthy deck. At the deepest level, this deck is fundamentally about removing agency from your opponent and giving it to yourself, as well as securing the critical boon of having inevitability over your opponent in a game with the nature of LoR. If all decks were like this, LoR would completely cease to be fun. What else do I think is unhealthy right now? - Simple: anything removing interactivity from your opponent - ESPECIALLY as a win condition; Maokai, Star Spring, Cosmic Inspiration, Lee Sin. The avenues through which these cards can be interacted with are way too limited right now. A lot of the metagame nowadays is about having an uninteractable win condition, or focusing damage to face so fast the opponent has no chance to react - another form of non-interactivity. Here's hoping that the meta in the near future heads back in the direction of the close but fair midrange board battles we all came to love back in vanilla LoR. ~ (slinx4)
Gentlemen, Ladies and those otherwise addressed - we know you've been waiting for a good thing, and the survey results are finally ready! The answers were collected from you all during August 2020 with 1428 unique replies. That's a participation of 0.5% of all subscribers! That's really not too bad, when you keep in mind how popular these kind of surveys are. But we here at /peloton want to show you that this is all about presenting the information in the subreddit to cater better to our audience! Updated after a few hours to include some more historical data the final edit that for some reason wasn't copied properly
Without further ado, let's get cracking on the response
You and Cycling
1. Where do you live?
Largely the same picture as ever, with the US leading the way, the UK in second and then a sliding scale of Europeans countries. Slovenia continues to pick its way up the pile for obvious reasons! World Map to demonstrate
2. What's your age?
Pretty much the same as last year, with the usual reddit demographics of majority 20 somethings dominating.
3. What's your gender?
More normality here for reddit.
4. How much of the men's season do you watch/follow?
March '18 (%)
August '18 (%)
WT Stage races
WT One day races
Non WT Stage races
Non WT One day races
Literally everything I can consume
Whilst GT following may be down (somehow), all the lower level stuff is up, which makes sense considering how desperate we have been for any racing during the season shutdown.
5. Do you maintain an interest in women's professional road racing?
Do you maintain an interest in women's professional road racing?
Still very much a half/half interest in women's cycling on the subreddit.
6. How much of the women's season do you follow?
The following is true for the half of you that follows womens cycling.
Just the biggest televised events
Most of the live televised/delayed coverage stuff
All televised racing
Down to .Pro & beyond
7. How long have you been watching cycling?
Under a year
25 years +
Simplified the years a little this time, but whilst we have a fair number of newbies, most people have picked the sport up since around 2013/14.
8. Do you have like/dislike feelings about WT teams?
Once more, 14.4% of people really don't have feelings on the subject. Of those that do:
So, the most popular team this year is Jumbo-Visma, followed by Quick-Step & Bora-hansgrohe. Least popular are Ineos & UAE. As per usual, no one cares about NTT & CCC, with nearly 81% of users rating NTT as meh. Pretty damning stuff. Lastly, we have the usual historical comparison of how teams have fared over time, normalised to respondents to that question on the survey. Things to note then, firstly that the Astana redemption arc is over, seeing them back in the negative, maybe Fulgsangs spring issues helped aid that? The petrodollar teams of UAE & Bahrain are stubbornly negative too, with Israel keeping up the Katusha negative streak. Meanwhile, at the top end, EF & Jumbo go from strength to strength, whilst some others like Sunweb are sliding over time - their transfer policies no doubt helping that.
10. Do you ride a bike regularly?
No, I don't
Still a fairly small group of racers out of all of us
11. Out of the sports you practice, is cycling your favourite?
A new addition to the survey prompted by a good point last time, just over half of us rate cycling as the favourite sport we actually do.
12. What other sports do you follow?
Association Football / Soccer
Track & Field
Esports (yes, this includes DotA)
Motorsports (Not including F1)
Football always tops the charts, and Formula 1 continues to rank extremely highly among our userbase. Those who have a little following below 5% include Sailing, Fencing, Surfing, Boxing & Ultra-Running. Other cycling disciplines
13. Out of the sports you follow, is cycling your favourite sport?
Good. Makes sense if you hang out here.
14. How often do you participate in a /Peloton Race Thread whilst watching a race?
I always participate in Race Threads during races
I follow Race Threads during races
I often participate in Race Threads during races
I rarely/never participate in Race Threads during races
Slightly less invested than before, reverting back to an older trade.
15. How do you watch Races?
Free Local TV
Desperately scrabbling for Youtube highlights
Paid Streaming services
Year on year, paid streaming services go up - the increasing availability of live content legally continues to improve, and so do the numbers on the survey.
16. Where else do you follow races live (in addition to watching them)?
We can safely say that most of us were wrong about this one. That's not a lot of confidence in Richie Porte either, the man who was to finish on the third spot of the podium. Alexander Foliforov (0,23%) had just a tiny number of votes less, and that man wasn't even in the race.
24. What for you was the defining cycling moment of the previous decade?
We had a lot of brilliant suggestions, but these were the clear five favourites when we tabulated the results.
2018 Giro - Chris Froome Solo Attack
2016 TDF - Chris Froome Running up Ventoux
2019 TDF - Landslides, First Columbian Winner, Pinot's bitter abandon - This was one race for the ages
2016 Paris-Roubaix - Mostly known for Tom Boonen losing. Also, some guy called Mat won.
2019 AGR - MvdP with his incredible catch-up for the win.
Honorable mentions go to the Giro 2018, which had Tom Dumoulin winning, and of almost identical fascination to many of you - Tom Dumoulin going on someones porta-potty in the middle of the stage. Little bit of recency bias perhaps, but that's better than ignoring that this was for the last decade and firmly insisting Tom Boonens 2005 WC win was the biggest thing. Special shoutout to almost all the Danes present in /peloton who voted for Mads Pedersens WC win last year. It's an understandable reaction.
25. Any suggestions for the Survey?
Could you add a section on rider popularity, same as for the teams?
Ask how people became interested in cycling
Ask how people watch cycling (e.g. TV Channels/Streaming etc.)
If you could be an animal for one day, which one would it be?
Would you wear a facemask while watching a cycling race live?
Which race do you look forward to see the most every year?
Favourite riders of your own country?
How many bikes do you own?
We promise to feature one of these suggestions in the next survey Suggestions
Always have a “no” or “not interested” option
We will try to implement this. But it will also skew results. About the Survey
More questions about womens cycling would be nice.
Less questions about womens cycling
The subscribers are torn on Women's cycling, nearly a 50/50 split there as the survey showed - The moderators at /peloton are firmly in the "more cycling is better" basket, and we will continue to get as good coverage of womens cycling as possible.
Are you trying to give the moderators PTSD? Because this is how you give the moderators PTSD.
26. Any suggestions for the sub?
More stationary fitness bike related content
ALSJFLKAJSLDKJAØLSJKD:M:CSAM)=#/()=#=/")¤=/)! - Your moderator seems to be out of function. Please stand by while we find you a new moderator
The Weekly threads are great for these types of questions, where several people can contribute and build up once it is understood which information is relevant.
Allow limited doping talk in result threads.
Our experience is that "limited" will never be so, if we're going to moderate it fairly. Moderating is not a popularity contest, but believe it or not, we're actually trying to be as fair as possible. and for that, we need rules that are not subjective. Unless you have a stationary exercise bike.
Written original content is always great - recaps, old race reviews or interesting rider bios, etc.
More non-race threads
Try and do some AMAs with pro cyclists, coaches, trainers, etc
All of these are good suggestions, but remember that all of you can also contribute - The mods are sometimes stretched thin, specially in the middle of hectic race schedules. It's easier if one of you has a way to contact a rider or a person of interest and can facilitate the initial communication.
Standardize major event thread titles for better search.
We've worked on this! The Official Standard is now as follows: [Race Thread] 202x Race Name – Stage X (Class)
A wiki that explains how races work. Roles of diff riders/support staff. History of racing.
This sounds as a nice community project for the after-season, and hopefully many of you subscribers can contribute.
Tidy up the sidebar!
Come with suggestions on how to tidy it up!
Don't assume everyone reading is a man, "thanks, bro". But that goes for all of Reddit. I know you can't fix that.
We have chastised all the mods. They are now perfectly trained in gender-neutral pronouns. Be well, fellow being.
Have a buy you a beer link for the mods for all the work you do.
If we can implement this for hard liquor, you know we will.
Remove the spoiler rule during grand tours. It kills the hype.
The spoiler rule is one that is discussed frequently - in general - some users absolutely hate it, but a majority love it. Perhaps we'll include a question in the next survey to see how this divide is exactly.
Lose the spoiler tag when it is for serious things; Lambrecht death, Jakobsen fall.
We actually do - whenever there is a matter of life or death, we think public information is more important than a spoiler rule. But at the same time, we try to collect all the different posts into one main thread, so to keep things focused and letting very speculative posts meet with hard evidence from other sources.
Less downvoting of opinions that differ from the fashionable consensus.
This is a tough ask of the internet. While we can agree that voting should be done accordingly to what insights they bring, not subjective opinions, it is very hard to turn that type of thinking around. We can ask of you, our subscribers, that you please think twice about hitting that downvote button, and only do so because of you think a post is factually incorrect, not because it differs with your own subjective opinion. That's the primary analysis of the survey! Feel free to contribute with how you experience things here!
Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a Solo modern day occult RPG, written by Alex T. for Blackoath Entertainment. I first stumbled upon it on Kickstarter in October of 2019, and immediately backed it. There are few deliberately designed Solo RPG's, and its promise of solo rules, robust system, and setting was irresistible. I received my print copy this summer, but haven't had a chance until recently to play it. Now that I have, I wanted to do a quick review of the game, based on both my reading of it as well as the couple of sessions I've been able to play. While most of the review will be discussing the book itself, I'll include some notes on my play experience in spoilers. Layout and Design The book itself is solid. The cover image is cool and evocative--and the art in general is very well done. I only backed at the softcover level, but it's a solid and well designed layout. Actually, better than some of the recent games I've bought from more established companies. Setting It's modern day London. Your character has gone through some traumatic and horrifying experience that awakened them to the greater supernatural world. After much searching, you have come to the Omphalos, a secret town populated by mystics, monsters, and other...things. There, you begin your journey of both personal enlightenment and personal power. Character Creation Seekers uses the 6 classic attributes--Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma, with Will replacing Wisdom. The scale is from 1-20, with all starting at 10. You then get an additional 20 points to further customize your character. I ended up putting my points into Dexterity, Will, Intelligence, and Charisma. I figured Will and Intelligence are key to any aspiring wizard, and--desiring to do something different than a rogue bad ass--I was hoping that Dexterity and Charisma would give me options to solve issues with something other than direct violence. This would become an issue later on. Next, you have "Secondary Attributes"--Hit Points (Con x10) or Sanity (Int x10) and the like. Then, you have Skills. They're pretty much what you would expect, a mix of combat and non-combat. You have 250 points to spend on the skills, but are limited to no more than 50 in any skill at creation. Some skills have a base value derived from your attributes (for example, One-Handed Melee starts with a value equal to your Str+Dex, while Persuade starts with a value equal to your Charisma X2), while other skills--the mystical ones--begin at 0 and can only be increased through gameplay. If you use a skill 5 times, you can make a Skill-Up roll. If you roll above the current value (i.e.: fail), you add 1 point to the skill. Given that I had a decent Dex, my combat skills were decent to begin with. I wanted to play an "ordinary joe" kind of character, so I spend my points on skills like Technology, Linguistics, and Persuade. I finally caved to my min/maxing tendencies though, and ended up boosting Parry and Sneak as high as I could, with a smattering of points in other combat skills. I had quite a few in the mid-40's, so my "mild mannered accountant" was surprisingly dangerous. Or so I thought. Backgrounds After the basics are done, you roll a d10 for your Background. Each provides and in-depth backstory for your character, and details the traumatic and often horrific moment that set you on the path of magic. Each also provides various penalties and bonuses that further modify your character. I rolled the "Near Death Experience"--my PC was a workaholic who almost dies of a heart attack. While "dead," he encounter a horrific spirit that he just barely managed to evade. Upon waking, he through aside his career and sought out some explanation for what he had seen. He has a bonus to Psychic Combat--which is used in the Astral Plane--but a penalty to his Constitution and Charisma. I had left my Con at 10, so it dropped to 9, and my Hit Points also dropped from 100 to 90. I wasn't worried though, as I had intended to be more sneaky and charming than tough. He said foreshadowingly. Combat Combat is relatively simple. As you approach a foe, you make an Initiative roll on a d20. Each foe has a static Initiative value; if you beat it, you go first and if not, then they do. If you beat them on the first turn, you have a chance to surprise or avoid them entirely. All combat rolls are done by the player. If an enemy attacks, you need to make a defensive roll (Parry, Dodge, or Find Cover) to avoid their attack, and you make your offensive roll (like One Handed Melee) to hit them. Certain foes are Veterans, and apply penalties to these rolls. Different types of weapons do different amounts of damage--like 2d10+10 for a pistol. In the intro adventure, the PC gains a "talent" that grants them a flat +25 to their damage from then on. Most foes have roughly 100-130 Hit Points, so even with the player bonus, it can take quite a few rounds to get through even minor enemies. The Mystical World The next few sections are some of the most interesting, describing the Astral World, Magic, Summoning and Binding Spirits, and the like. I haven't had a chance to really dig into this aspect of the game, however. The Omphalos and Scenarios The core of the game is the Omphalos, a hub of trade, commerce, knowledge and intrigue. Here the PC can buy and sell gear, learn new knowledge, encounter the strange denizens of this world, and get missions for various factions. There are four listed in the book, each with their own agendas and philosophy. Each has constant need for "foot soldiers" to do various unsavory tasks for them, and as you gain Favor with each, they provide various bonuses and spells and other benefits. >! So, I finished the intro scenario, had some knowledge of the greater world, and had been introduced to the Omphalos. Time for the first "real" adventure! First, I roll on the Emphalos Daily Event table and got "quiet day"--things are calm today, and prices are low. I have only a few obols (the currency of the magical realm), so any discount is nice. Then I roll for Encounters, and get "pickpocket." There's no roll to avoid this, so my PC loses 100 obols. This is more than I have, so I am no broke. Desperate for work, I see who is hiring. There are 4 factions, and each might have a represented in town that day, based on a roll of 7+ on a D10. I roll for each, and only one is present, the Causa Scientiae a particularly rational and Order focused faction. I then roll for the Scenario--I get "recover." One of their artifacts has fallen into mortal hands and is in a museum. They want me to recover it for them. Given the setup, there will only be mortal guards--which is nice--and they don't want me to kill anyone. In fact, each guard I kill will cost me the possible Favor reward with the faction. Works for me--I don't want to kill anyone either.!< I could refuse job, but risk losing Favor with them. Given that they are the only ones hiring today, I'm loathe to refuse. Plus the job seems up my alley--no magics needed (and I have none), and I should avoid all combat. Since other types of mission are "kill everything on site" or "kill everything and cast a really tough ritual" I figure I'm unlikely to get a better mission. Next I go to the scenario design. There are a number of possible locations, and each has a unique setup, Events, and Discoveries. This is probably my favorite part of the game. I roll some dice, get a list of rooms and locations, and then create a simple map for my explorations. I know given the setup that the artifact in question will be discovered in the 16th room. But, a roleplayer is gonna roleplay, so I decide my PC will make a beeline for the Archives, assuming that the object surely must be there. And, if not, it will have the necessary paperwork showing where the object is. Each room has unique odds for three different types of encounters--Enemies, Events, and Discoveries. I begin at the Entrance, and have no enemies but an Event reveals Drug Fueled Goons--apparently the guards here are all high as hell, and have a bonus of 20 to their Hit Points, but a -10 to combat. So, tougher to kill, but easier to hit and avoid. The next room I enter is the Lobby, and there's a guard present. The guard rules state that they will attack on site. I could use an alternate rule that lets you talk past human-type foes but, well, I am breaking in and they are all drugged the hell up, so I stick with the basic rules. Still, I try to avoid them but fail in my starting initiative roll. The battle begins, and the dice are on my side. It's a running gun battle, but I'm able to kill the guard. When he's wounded, he calls for backup, and the dice gods are still smiling at me, and I make it through that battle without any injuries. I'm upset at my failure to avoid combat--and losing Favor with my client--but after some nasty battles in the intro adventure, I start to think I'm getting things sorted out. I continue exploring and even manage to successfully sneak past a guard. As I'm exploring one of the administration offices, I run into another one. This time I can't avoid him, and another fight ensues. This time, the dice don't roll so well. He quickly gets the better of me, and I end up taking a lot damage. And with only 90 Hit Points, it's far more than I'm comfortable with. I decide to run. To run away, you need to roll a D20 and, like initiative, and beat their Dexterity but even still they get a free attack on you. Not that it matters, as I fail to disengage. After two rounds spent trying to run away, my PC is shot dead on some secretaries desk and my game came to a close. Concluding Thoughts Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a very interesting game. Obviously, a ton of thought, love, and work has been poured into this game. And there is a lot I love about it--the world, the discussions on magic and spirits, the mission setup system--all top notch. But, there are some things that didn't quite work for me.
Skill resolution. The binary pass/fail doesn't really interest me, particularly for a Solo game. This is purely a personal preference, however.
Skill improvement. 5 usage of skills or 5 combats (for combat skills) to have the chance to increase a skill by 1%? Character progression seems like it would be glacial. Not that I would know, since...
Combat is brutal, and tedious. Not only does even simple combat take several rounds (each requiring an Initiative Roll, a defense roll, an offense roll, and various damage rolls), but they are fairly generic without a chance to meaningfully do anything different or interesting. Also, while the game embraces an "old school" philosophy that not all fights should be fought, this runs counter to both the Scenario design (where "kill all foes" is a pretty common goal), and the System itself. Combat is assumed, after all, and avoiding it requires two separate rolls, neither of which will have a more than 50% chance, at best, of success. And failing either results in combat which requires sheer luck to disengage from.
The Scenario and the system felt...disjointed. This is another purely subjective point, I'll concede, but I didn't like how I had to "dungeon crawl" my way through the Museum. I like the idea of a museum unknowingly having a mystical artifact and my ex-accountant having to figure out how to steal it, without killing anyone. I'd love to do a solo game where I need to assemble a crew to try and help me (can I trust them?), try to locate where the artifact is, do some recon, plan the heist, try to get and get out without drawing attention. Sounds like a fun heist game that could at any moment fall apart. Walking around room by room killing guards didn't seem to do the setup justice.
Failure. Failure needs to be part of any game system, because otherwise it's not really a "game." And death is the ultimate failure, which gives combat meaning. But there has to be a middle ground between "you can't fail" and "oh, you didn't roll significantly better than average for the past 8 dice rolls, so your character is dead and the game is over." I don't know how to square this particular circle.
I'll probably give the game another shot. But, instead of playing an average guy awakening to a wider world, I'll probably go with a more "badass" character and hope he can survive the first few missions. In Seekers, knowing ancient languages is nice, but real mages know how to use a Glock. TLDR Seekers Beyond the Shroud is an interesting Solo RPG of modern occult shenanigans. it has a lot of very interesting and fun mechanics to bring the game to life, but suffers from some bad editing (make sure you play through the intro scenario or you WILL miss a key "PC Bonus") and an unforgiving system. Still, worth checking out for any Solo gamer interested in more contemporary game.
A proposal to eliminate the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland
This is a long one. There is no TL;DR, but Google tells me it should take about 10 minutes to read. Or, you can skip to The Plan - Summary if you want the bullet points. But why should you give this any time at all? My background is in data analysis. Making sense of numbers is what I do for a living. I have been studying COVID-19 since I was locked down in March and the experience has been frustrating in equal measure. The difference between what was happening on the ground, and the story that the media told was genuinely alarming. The government / NPHET never even tried to stop the virus getting into the country, and no one held them to account for their (non)decisions. The disastrous consequences are all around us, and much of it was preventable. Six months later, and the country has barely moved on. The ‘experts’ have no goals and little control over the virus. The media frame every issue as a crass binary choice between more or less restrictions and are otherwise happy just to have people to point their fingers at. The government / NPHET has nothing to offer the people, other than admonishments to do better and repeated cycle of restrictions. Meanwhile students, artists, the over 70s, small business owners, the entire events and hospitality industries, and regular people who cannot WFH have been left swinging in the wind. Some have been evicted, others are relying on drugs to get by. This situation is not just a problem for one or two parts of our society: this is a widespread degradation of our quality of life. If I can do anything to help, I feel obliged to try. Context As I see it, we have three choices:
Give up = ‘herd immunity’ / Great Barrington Declaration
Take the path of least resistance = ‘Living With The Virus’ (living in fear of the virus)
Solve the problem = elimination / eradication
I won’t argue over technocratic definitions like ‘elimination’, ‘eradication’ or ‘suppression’. These distinctions are semantic in an environment of oppressive civic restrictions, mass unemployment, waves of business closures, and general misery. Whatever gets us to a place where we can live our lives as normal (or close enough), and the public health infrastructure can take care of the virus, that’s what I’m aiming for. This proposal cannot work without public support. No proposal can work without public support. Public adherence is the single most important variable in the equation, yet it is the one that the politicians and the media and the ‘experts’ have ignored. FG burned through a lot of goodwill in the first lockdown (and money, and resources, and lives…). Instead of vilifying people who aren’t adhering to the rules, policymakers need to recognise the sacrifices that the people made (which were subsequently squandered) and they need to earn that trust back. This proposal cannot work without support from the North. That doesn’t mean that we need to convince them to adopt our plan. It means we need to convince them that the goal is worthwhile and achievable. From there we can work together to coordinate our policies. Managing our own affairs with competence, would be a good start. Picking up the phone to talk to them, instead of trying to browbeat them through the media, would also help. Irrespective of your goals or beliefs, some facts are certain: there will be lockdowns, there will be government spending to support the economy, and the virus will demand public health resources. All of that will happen in the coming months and years, whether we have a plan or not. The question is whether those resources are used to solve the problem, or whether they are wasted on a plan that keeps us going around in circles. So yes, there will be lockdowns in this proposal, but they will not be FG lockdowns i.e. lock them down and throw away the key. Through intelligent policies and a greater mobilisation of resources, we can do so much more with our lockdowns to reduce the burden on the people and make their experience more tolerable. Indeed, that trade-off always exists in public policy: better policymaking = happier people. Which is why the politicians usually get the blame, and rightly so. We need to move to a more ‘war time’ mindset. Not because we need a shared enemy to unite us, but because we need to mobilise every possible resource at our disposal and focus it on the single most important issue affecting us all. We need more tests, we need vehicles for mobile testing units, we need facilities for quarantines. Wherever there is spare capacity, we need to find a way to put it to good use. We need to take most of the power away from the narrow-minded medics, and get the rest of our society and our civic infrastructure involved in planning e.g. community representatives, legal experts, business leaders, An Garda, the army etc. People want to invest in their communities, they want to help their friends and neighbours. There are people all over the country who would rather be volunteering as part of a national plan to get rid of COVID-19, than to be sitting at home on the PUP, going crazy listening to the ‘experts’ – who failed to prevent this – talk about more lockdowns. We need to harness that latent energy and build it into the plan. One of the most important factors that is within our control, is the degree to which policymakers communicate with the people. And I mean real communication, not press releases or attention-seeking speeches from the other side of the world. We need to talk to the people, listen to them, answer their questions, take their feedback on board. The people aren’t stupid. They know a good plan when they see it – which is why few are paying attention to the ‘Living With The Virus’ stuff – and they have valuable information that can help make that plan work. Underlying these points is a need to create intelligent rules, and to enforce them strictly. Strict does not mean harsh. Strict enforcement is not authoritarianism, and it is not an invitation to a fight; it is simply administrative competence. In the context of a contagious outbreak, administrative competence is the difference between life and death. I’ll finish this section with the caveat that all parameters are suggestions or placeholders. The exact numbers will depend on resources, on more data and further analysis, and on input from communities and other stakeholders – all of which is within our control. The Plan – Summary Like any problem in life, if you can’t solve it directly, you break it down into smaller, less complex parts. Instead of putting the whole country into lockdown and trying to eradicate the virus from the whole island at the same time – a miserable experience for all – we should go county by county until the job is done. We seal off a county, flood it with resources, clear it of COVID-19, and then let it reopen as normal. We repeat the process for neighbouring counties and then combine them when they are cleared, to create a larger ‘Cleared Zone’. The process continues and the Cleared Zone keeps growing until it covers the whole island. This approach allows us to focus our resources on one area at a time (nurses, doctors, tests, volunteers etc) instead of spreading them over the whole country. We can be more comprehensive in our testing and quarantining measures, and more confident in our plans. Short, sharp, strict lockdowns work best. By maximising the ratio of resources to population, we also lower the burden on the people. In particular, we minimise the amount of time that people spend in lockdown, and the less time they spend in lockdown, the more likely the plan is to work. This structured approach also makes it easier for us to measure our progress and make reliable forecasts. We can allocate our resources more efficiently and plan our responses more effectively. Observers can watch our progress and judge for themselves whether it is a good idea (i.e. politicians in the North and / or protestors in Dublin). Perhaps most important of all, the structure makes it easier to explain the idea to the people and get buy-in before anything happens. We can outline the plan, explain how it works, explain how it compares to the alternatives, and then give them realistic estimates of what would be required and how long it would take. Then we can hear their feedback and take the conversation and planning from there. I have heard any people talking about elimination and ZeroCovid, but do any of them have a plan for getting to zero? Or a plan to get the people on board? Step 1: More structure and responsibility from leaders Step 2: Less uncertainty, easier decisions, better outcomes, less stress for everyone Step 3: Profit. Elimination. The Plan – Implementation We isolate a county and lock it down for an initial 3 weeks. An Garda man the county borders. They are supported by the army, who provide boots on the ground so that An Garda aren’t stretched. Most routes are closed off so that all essential travel goes through a few well-manned checkpoints. If we do a good job with planning and communication, there won’t be much work to do. We test systemically high-risk households and high-risk individuals early and often i.e. large households and essential workers. With help from local volunteers, medics screen as many people as possible every day. We use multiple measures and repeated applications to improve the quality of our results. We want to identify and remove cases at the earliest possible point, both to reduce the chance of further infection, and to protect the individual’s health. Low risk confirmed cases (young / healthy) go to a safe and comfortable quarantine. Local hotels and guest houses could be used, ideally before we invest in building quarantine facilities. Local taxis, kitted out with extra protective equipment, could take them there. High risk confirmed cases (older / comorbidities) go by ambulance to local medical facilities as required. During this period, we work with local politicians, community leaders, residence associations etc to ensure that everyone is looked after (in reality, these conversations will have started weeks before). We get our neighbourhoods communicating, looking out for each other, making sure they’ve got enough food or heating or whatever else they need. Local volunteers and taxi drivers can do odd jobs like sending packages, collecting prescriptions, lifting heavy stuff, or just checking in on people. If it is feasible, we can even invite local artists to play gigs for people in their streets or apartments. Towards the end of the second week, we begin a mass testing program with the ultimate goal of testing every person in the county (scale depends on resources). Once we have completed the tests and cleared the confirmed cases into quarantine, we can begin a slow, staggered opening process. We must be especially conservative at this point to ensure no slippage. When one county is clear, we move to the next one, and repeat the process. When we have cleared two bordering counties, we can join them together in a bigger Cleared Zone and the process continues from there. Eventually the Cleared Zone covers the whole country, except Dublin (or more realistically, the Pale). What would the other counties do while they wait for their turn? I’m assuming that, they would be doing whatever the ‘Living With The Virus’ plan dictates. This proposal succeeds in line with what happens in the sealed off zones, so I am more concerned with them. However, it would speed up the process if the bordering counties could be encouraged to get a head start. If the plan is going successfully, I’m confident they would. With its population density and its complexity, Dublin / the Pale will be the last county to be cleared. However, given that every other county would be cleared by that point, and with so much effort having been put in, it might make more sense just to burn Dublin down. We could go with a concrete mausoleum as per Chernobyl, but it might be easier and quicker if we just raised the city and started from scratch. The country needs to rebalance, so it’d be two birds with one stone. Or maybe we call that plan B. Dublin’s plan A would follow the same principles as for the rest of the country. Break it into smaller parts, focus resources on one area at a time, use layers of risk measures where precision isn’t an option, and get cases as early as possible, using whatever resources available. By that stage the rest of the country would be clear and the demand for medical resources low. We would have learned a lot along the way, and we would have plenty of ammo to throw at the problem. In general, the more resources we have, the faster we can move. The county by county approach that I have outlined above is too slow. With greater resources, we can increase the number of counties that are being cleared at any one time. One option is to work by province. Another would be to define the zones with respect to observed travel routes, in order to reduce the risk of leakage and reduce the inconvenience on local communities. At the end of the day, lines have to be drawn somewhere, and some people will inevitably lose out. The better we communicate with people in advance, the lower the burden on the people and the more of these problems we can avoid. Following on from that, one of the skills we need to take from this crisis is the ability to isolate and quarantine regions. Whether it is a city, a town, a county, a specific building, or even the entire country, we need to be able to seal it off and control movement in and out. This is an essential tool for outbreak management – whatever the outbreak and whatever the disease. The same goes for individuals. We need to be able to create and operate safe, comfortable, and effective quarantines, and to do so at short notice. It should be a matter of national embarrassment that FG and NPHET couldn’t even organise a quarantine in a pandemic. The whole process might take 3 to 4 months. That means we would have cut off all non-essential air travel for that time, but it doesn’t mean the whole country is in lockdown for 3 or 4 months. The lockdown is staggered, and the individual’s experience will depend on their location and their place in the ‘queue’. The first group of counties to go into lockdown will also be the first to come out. Once they have eliminated the spread of the virus, they will return to a normal, although somewhat isolated, society. The experience steadily improves as more and more counties join them in the Cleared Zone (or steadily deteriorates, depending on your county pride). While the first group is in lockdown, the rest of the country continues as normal i.e. living with the virus. Everyone watches as the first group goes through its lockdown (just think of the #banter). Several weeks later, as the first group is opening up, the second group is preparing to go in to lockdown. As the second group comes out, the third group goes in etc etc and the staggered lockdowns roll like a wave across the country. Every county goes from Living With The Virus -> intelligent lockdown (needs a better name) -> Cleared Zone. The earlier you are in the queue, the less time you spend Living With The Virus and the more time you spend in the Cleared Zone. The individual would only be in a strict lockdown for a matter of weeks, maybe 3-6 depending on the complexity of the region and the resources available. For counties with smaller populations that have shown that they can do a good lockdown, it will be quicker. For Dublin, it will be slower. Strengths I think this proposal has a lot of strengths. It’s a plan, for a start. We haven’t had a plan since this thing began (the FG lockdown wasn’t a plan – it was the inevitable consequence of not having a plan). The leaders take more responsibility to lower the burden on the people, it mobilises idle resources, and it fosters communication and community across the country. These are three strengths that I want to emphasise. 1 It provides clarity This might be the most important point. Uncertainty is painful. Uncertainty is a cost. Even if the bad thing is unlikely to happen, just the fact that it is a risk, or that it could happen means that you live with a cloud over your head. Suffering is bad enough on its own, but suffering for an unknown length of time is torture. And if that period is determined at the whim of a politician or an ‘expert’, that is a recipe for society-wide anger and even civil disorder. With this proposal, we can forecast the length of the period of lockdown with greater accuracy. The people will be able to understand what is being asked of them. We can make plans around resources required versus those available. The economists can make forecasts. Businesses can plan their finances. The people can plan their weddings, book their holidays, get back to training, sign up for courses, and have things to look forward to. At the end of the day, any successful proposal must remove the uncertainty and provide meaningful clarity to households and businesses. 2 Never let a crisis go to waste This plan will require tools and capabilities like rapid local testing, safe quarantines, rapid isolation of towns and regions, emergency decision-making frameworks etc. If we don’t have a capability, then we need to build it. When people say ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ this is what they mean: you build the tools in the crisis that will help you protect yourself from the next one. Nature works the same way. You lift weights until the muscle fibres tear, then they grow back stronger. We build aerobic endurance by pushing ourselves to a limit, then our body naturally reacts to increase the limit. A vaccine works similarly by stimulating antibodies for the disease. Well, we need a civic emergency vaccine for Ireland. These tools are the antibodies that will protect us next time. The sooner we build them, the better. Now is the time, not later. 3 It's the only way we can protect the economy The risk to the economy isn’t the next few months of revenue. We can borrow to cover lost income in the short run. The real risk is a wave of defaults that precipitates a financial crisis. As more individuals and businesses are put under financial pressure, more borrowers will default on their debts. But one man’s debt is another man’s asset, so as the borrowers default, the lender’s financial situation also deteriorates. Defaults are contagious, and if a wave of defaults threatens a major lender, the entire financial system will be at risk. Only an elimination plan can protect the economy. Along with the virus and the uncertainty it creates, we need to eliminate the risk of financial contagion. Weaknesses Could ya be arsed The End Goal Think about what’s on the other side of this… This is a massive challenge – the kind that defines a nation. However you think of your community, this would give you something to be proud of for generations. It would be like Italia ’90, except 10 times bigger, because we would be the players, we would be the ones making it happen. We’d become the first country in Europe to eliminate the virus. And of all the countries in the world, we’d be doing it from the largest deficit too. Those Taiwanese and Kiwis made it easy for themselves with their preparation and their travel restrictions and their competent leaders. Our challenge is much greater than theirs, but they show us what is possible. Have you ever wanted to scoff at the Germans for being disorganised? Wouldn’t you love to have a reason to mock the Danes? Aren’t you sick of hearing about New Zealand? Let’s make the Kiwis sick of hearing about the Irish! If we take this challenge on, the world’s media will be on us. The FT, the Economist, the NYT, the Guardian, Monacle, Wired, the New Scientist, China Daily, RT, Good Housekeeping, Horse and Hound, PornHub… all of these international media empires would be tracking our progress, interviewing key people, reporting daily, willing us on. The world is desperate for good news, and we can be the ones to give it to them. We would become a model for other nations to follow. They would take the Irish model and adapt it to their own situation. Instead of us copying other nations, they would be copying us. Instead of a pat on the head for the diddy little Irish fellas, we would be literally LEADING THE WORLD. Back at home, we get our lives back, and society can breathe again, free of restrictions. The over 70s come out of hibernation. The students go back to university. The protests stop because people go back to work and we announce an inquiry into what exactly happened in February and March. The pubs go back to being pubs. Our hospitality industry is taken off life support. The tidal wave of bankruptcies is avoided. We can play sport and celebrate the wins. We stop talking about things we can or can't do. Just imagine that first session... And imagine how good it would feel knowing that you had worked for it, and knowing that you had set the nation on a better path for generations to come... I think it’s worth a lash! Don’t you?
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Reason for Hindutva (Request the Mods to pin this if they wish to)
Big long post coming up. Okay. This is a reply to one person's comment about Hindutva in this sub, and I felt that anybody who is looking for the reason for Hindutva should read this, hence I'm posting this as a separate post here. Any changes to my post are welcomed and I apologize beforehand for the looong post and any mistake/error that may have crept in. Please suggest changes if any needed. There is a direct comparison between Indian conservatives and (usually) American/Western RW. Thus, Western definitions and interpretations of social & political issues (binaries like Left Wing vs Right Wing, secular vs communal, etc.) are mapped directly onto India with little to no understanding of either the dynamics of Indian society, or its history. Let's talk about one: Islamophobia. In countries like America, Islam is a micro-minority that is growing slowly, and because of the appearance of being harassed by Right Wing Americans for over two decades (and the general perception of Muslims, their unnecessary harassment at the hands of law enforcement & general public), there exists sympathy for their community from the "inclusive Left", just like there's sympathy for the Black community ( bec. of higher levels of poverty, ghettoisation, etc.). This exists for Brown skinned Hindus too. There's an appearance of their community being 'otherised' in society over the last 20 years, and because of diversity, inclusion, & identity politics, Muslim community has found a new supporter in the Left Wing (SJW, Democrats, etc.). Other than 9/11 and a few other isolated terror incidents, Islamic terrorism has not impacted America to the level White supremacist & police shootings/killings have, and the vast majority of deaths have not happened at the hands of Muslims. There are jihādi nutjobs in the Muslim community, and I'm sure the FBI is tracking every single one of them down to keep America safe. Then there's the case of RW White supremacists who are literally "phobic" about Muslims and Islam, thinking that all Muslims (in America) are terrorists by default, and want to halt immigration to Muslim countries, and want to send Muslims back to their home countries. The majoritarian Christian community has the (relatively) large American conservative population in a tight grip, so the question of Islamic proselytism, and the establishment of a Shari'a state simply doesn't exist as a major threat to America right now. Let's just say that there's currently no major threat from their community to America as a whole (I don't think the govt and intel agencies would allow that to happen). Islam is a slightly different flavour in America than in India. Let's walk (fly?) over to India. The Muslim community is the second largest majority. Their population in India is nearly 3/4th the population of America. ~200 million Muslims live in India. India is surrounded by 2-3 Muslim countries (Pak, Afg, Bang). The history of the relationship between Hindus and Muslims is NOT peaceful. Muslims ruled tyrannically over the Hindus for over 500 years, oppressed them, destroyed thousands (>30000) of holy sites & temples and then just as a Hindu empire was being re-established, the British swooped in to lord over India for ~150 years. India is probably the only major failure of Islam, since they were unable to convert majority Hindus to Islam. Countries like Syria, Jordan and Israel/Palestine, which were Christian & Jewish lands were fully occupied by Islamic forces. Powerful empires in ancient & medieval Iraq - Iran fell to Islamic forces, who gave the locals two options: convert or die. To save their lives, the entire stretch from Turkey and Israel/Palestine to Iran converted to Islam. Millions of non Muslim pagans have died at the hands of Muslims. Buddhist majority countries like Afghanistan fell to Islamic invaders and Central Asia was also taken over by them. Over the centuries there was a forceful adoption and integration of Islam in these societies and historic native pagan and non Muslim religious sites were systematically destroyed and mosques established atop them. Simply put, Central, West and South West Asia converted to Islam under the sword. Not due to choice. Islam is an extremely regressive faith that refuses to evolve. Coming back to India. In 1947, an entire country was ripped apart from the motherland India and was formed on religious lines (Pakistan and later, Bangladesh). Now, every nation from Turkey in the West to Afghanistan & Pakistan in the east was one large Muslim bloc. East of India, countries like Malaysia and Indonesia became Muslim, China was atheist and Myanmar and Sri Lanka were/are far too weak to stand up with India to counter these foreign invading Islamic (& Christian) forces. After Independence, the government tried to establish a secular state (again, trying to copy paste from the West), with no real understanding of the real India, or what it meant for the average Indian to be part of the Dharmic faiths (Hinduism and it's daughtesister religions). Separation of Church and State is a very Western concept, and shouldn't have been implemented in India. The British had divided Hindus to such an extent that there was no real identity for Hindus to mould or shape their community, and start fresh. On the other hand, Muslims did have a model to look up to: Saudi Arabia version of Sunni Islam, the medieval Indian Islam, and Iran's Shia Islam. Now, successive governments slowly began to appease Muslims for their vote, because the Muslim community was less fragmented than the Hindu community, and tended to vote as a bloc for certain political parties. The Hindu community on the other hand, was broken up into several small caste based fragments, and regional political parties rose to represent may of these individual communities. Hindus tended to vote as a caste instead of as a religion. Politicians being politicians, and with ample amounts of interference from foreign actors, Hindu community has never been united as a single bloc in the last 70 years. Add to this the shift of the Hindu populace towards the left (socialist, non religious) post-independence, and the majority Hindu community slowly lost touch with its faith, religion and Hindu social & religious issues. Coming back to the topic of Muslim invaders: as I stated earlier, Islamic invaders brought in their own tribalistic culture, and negatively influenced India's own historically superior society. For many Indian Muslims today, they see this Islamic rule as a kind of "Golden past" and the means to establish Islamic rule over India. However, for us Hindus, it is a matter of life and death and most importantly, self-preservation of the native culture and ideologies. Check out the Kashmir issue, and the cultural genocide and exodus of Kashmiri Pandit community from Kashmir at the hands of Islamists. There has been a slow but constant deracination in Kashmir, to establish it as a Muslim country following Shari'a law. 5000 villages and town names in Kashmir were changed to Islamic names from their historic Hindu/Buddhist names in the last 50 years. Hindu nationalism arose because of an anger of the Hindu population verily against this. "Hindutva is Hinduism that resists": Hindutva merely resists such attempts to erase Hindu and associated Dharmic faith history, it is a movement for Hindus to stand up for themselves and establish a Hindu state along Hindu Dharmic principles. It is a movement that resists the Muslim & Christian conversion activities in Indian states like Kerala, Kashmir, Assam and West Bengal (and their goal to establish a Islamic state very much like Kashmir, to drive out non Muslim 'kafirs'). This is a concerted campaign, bankrolled by foreign state actors like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan towards Islam, and Western countries like UK, France, and US for Christianity. Thus, Islamophobia cannot exist in India, because the term has no meaning here. Hindus are not irrationally scared of Muslims. The fear is justified in more ways than one. There is a brutal bloody history of Hindu oppression at the hands of Muslims (and even to this date it continues in Muslim countries), and there is a visual live evidence of what goes if India becomes a Muslim country. In countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, religious minorities do not have any rights, and women are traded and sold like slaves. Hindu and Sikh women are kidnapped, forcefully converted to Islam and married off to men much older than them. In India, a similar practice is going on: i. Love Jihad - Muslim men take on Hindu names and prey on gullible girls from the Hindu faith and forcefully convert them to Islam after marriage. ii. Little girls as young as 7-8 years old are kidnapped and sold in Arab countries to rich sheikhs. Both of these have an overwhelming amount of evidence and reportage. Hindutva is a self respect political movement for the Hindus. The whole of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is Islamic, so many South American and European countries are state Christian, and some South East Asian countries are Buddhist too. There doesn't exist one single Hindu country for the self preservation and development of Hindus. Heck, a global minority religion like Judaism has a home state in Israel. And just to clarify, no, the establishment of a Hindu state does not mean Muslims or other minorities cannot live in India, or cannot practice their religion. A Hindu state would allow Muslims and Christians to practice their faiths without impinging and infringing on local faiths, without exploiting the natives, especially the poor and sub altern communities. A Hindu state would truly be a model for multi religious, multi cultural, diverse society because the nature of Hinduism itself is to accept and tolerate a multitude of diverse opinions and thoughts. Islam and Christianity have a history of killing alternative opinions and heterodox schools, while Hinduism accepts them, or at the least, tolerated their presence. If religions like Sikhism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism (Parsi), native tribal faiths, Buddhism, Jainism and even atheism can live in peace with Hindusz for over 1000 years of history, why cannot Muslims? Why can't Christians? End.
A list of suggested improvements and updates for ACNH
So this is an adaptation of a recent post I made elsewhere, but the gaming community on that site is basically dead so I figured it might get more interaction here. I've played ACNH every day since release, and I think we can all agree that parts of it feel frustratingly unfinished. Several features are inexplicably a step down from New Leaf, or lack obvious improvements that someone surely could have thought of in the past 7-8 years. Many mechanics are totally arbitrary and add unnecessary tedium. The UI has been kept mostly traditional to the series, without taking into account that the new crafting elements are a massive departure and create new problems to solve. All this stuff creates a friction between the player and game that's almost certainly going to make people get bored and stop playing prematurely, and in a multiplayer game, active players are themselves game content. You need the extra polish in this genre. I've gotten tired of whining about these things individually on various platforms so I decided to just smash them all into a big list and chuck it out into the void. Disclaimers: I am not a professional game designer, just an enthusiast. I recognize that this is unlikely to end up on a CEO's desk or whatever so… consider this just me venting, if that's what blows your skirt up. There is of course also a nonzero chance that all of this has been in the works for months and will suddenly drop into the game next update, who knows. Also, while I kept wanting to derail and spend six hours talking about theoretical shiny new features, I tried to edit it down to either basic quality-of-life stuff, things that have precedence somewhere in the series, or things that are so standard in other games that they really should have been obvious to include at launch. Feel free to discuss, dispute, or add on. Inventory management: - To get the obvious one out of the way: craft multiple items at once, using a counter or number input. Crafting beyond inventory limits should send the extras to your storage. I'm still astounded that this wasn't in the base game on release. - Wood, bamboo, stone, etc. should be picked up automatically when in range of the player. Only if it has been previously dropped by the player should it require manual pickup. Enable or disable with a toggle in the settings menu. Nearly all crafting games have this. - MUCH higher stack limits for fruit, turnips, tickets, and crafting materials. All duplicate items should stack, including critters, furniture, clothing, and recipe cards. I wouldn't complain if tools stacked as well. Add a "place 1", "drop 1", and "split" option on stacks. - ADD A QUICK SORT BUTTON IN THE INVENTORY. Lines up your tools in the last remembered configuration, stacks and sorts items, and puts away bells. - Boom, Nookphone now has a handy payment app and we can pay from and get paid to our bank account instead of having to carry cash around (obviously still with the option to carry cash for planting money trees, etc.) Dear God, what year is it? Is Daisy Mae allergic to technology? You wanna tell me Flick doesn't have cashapp? They're gen Z! - Ability to pay bells to increase home storage. Make the price scale with each purchase if you like. - In storage, add a “special” category for limited edition furniture, Saharah items, etc.. Give us the ability to tag items as special, in case we decide that random shirt is a keepsake or whatever. - All items should be compatible with storage. Why can I fit an entire T-rex skeleton in my closet, but not a single solitary little turnip? Or a 3x5 index card with a recipe scribbled on it? - The wardrobe functionality is cool, but every container shouldn't be a wardrobe. Give us usable, separate containers to stash and sort our stuff. Players could put a crate full of fish bait by the shore, make a drop-off for fossils until they're ready to get them appraised, make a tool shed, keep their seeds by garden areas… - Select multiple items from inventory in any context, not just during sales. Drop up to 9 items simultaneously, release multiple fish/bugs, store multiple items at once. - The wetsuit shouldn't have to sit in the inventory when it's off. There are unused buttons, which is a shame--just let it sit in the apparel window and let us toggle it on and off with a button press. If we want it in our inventory we can remove it from the apparel window. - Give us a separate bar for tools that doesn't eat into regular inventory space. Sell it for nook miles as a toolbelt, if you like. - CRAFT DIRECTLY FROM STORAGE. If you have 758 wood stashed away, the game shouldn’t act like you have zero just because none of them are in your pockets. Nearly all crafting games have some support for this, because having to move items around may be logical, but it's also boring busywork and should be abbreviated. (Disabling this on other islands and NMT islands is fine.) - ASSUMING THE ABOVE IS IMPLEMENTED: Auto-sort items at the moment they are obtained. If all your stone is in your storage at home, then picking up a stone should send it to your storage at home--where, again, it should still be accessible for crafting. (Disabling this on other islands or NMT islands is fine.) - Let us just buy a nook ticket for immediate use at the airport counter. ("Oh, you don't have a NMT? Would you like to purchase one for 2000 nook miles?" Boom.) Shopping UI: - Again, getting the obvious one out of the way: fitting room allows purchase of more items at once, including duplicates if desired. It's already integrated with home storage--why shouldn't I be allowed to buy ten of everything in one go? - Similarly, Kicks, Leif and Nooklings should allow multiple purchases at once. Highlight this, that and the other, then buy--done. Give Sahara a real shop window instead of an annoying dialogue branch too. No vendor should have her weird text-based interface, it's soooo clunky. - Names of items not yet in your catalogue should be displayed in different font color, and they should be marked on the shelf via a visual indicator, like a small placard. - Bring back carpet/wallpaper previews in the shop. - When entering the fitting room, the wetsuit comes off automatically. - Bulk purchase items (e.g. plants, wrapping paper) should have a counter or number input, not just a binary choice between one and five. Allow more items to be bought in bulk, such as nook tickets. - The Gamecube release included a player shop feature--using your house gyroid, you could set out items for sale to other players for any price you wanted. The feature never appeared again, even as multiplayer and vastly increased networking capabilities made it more and more of a useful feature to have. Bring this back! Maybe an item-trade function too! Decorating and Landscaping: - Ability to move a building only a short distance, overlapping with the old location. It shouldn't freak out over collision with itself. - Bigger and more house rooms. Why on earth have houses gotten smaller since New Leaf? Layout control would be awesome too (so I could link up the ground floor rooms in a different way instead of being stuck with four doors in my main room, etc.) and is pretty typical of games where you can build and customize a house or homestead. - Faster animations during construction, and while scooting and rotating furniture. Quicker movement of furniture is especially a must outside, where we don't have the advantage of decorating mode. - Ability to put more items on tables. I want to put my wands on display! There's no reason they should have to sit on the floor. Same for instruments. - Let me put fences inside, and put wall-mounted items on my cliff faces. - "There's no room to put anything here"--well there WOULD be if you would interpret what I'm trying to do and push me back two pixels. Work with me here. Other: - SAVE. FILE. BACKUP. Let me copy to SD card, let me keep six months of backups, let me roll my town back as I please. There's already been one game-breaking bug that forced people to delete their five-hundred-hour towns; there's no telling when there'll be another. "But people will hack and sell save files and"--bad news, Buttercup, they already do. They probably also do naughty things with their joy-cons. Whose business is it? - Multiple towns per switch. As many as I can stuff into the memory. There is absolutely no reason not to do this. - More color options for hair and eyes. Many games have had RGB sliders for this for years, but at minimum the addition of a decent purple and another shade of green wouldn't go amiss. And where are my wacky colored contacts?? - Built in island-hopping. Finish up on one island, talk to the dodo, say "New island please", spend a nook ticket and go directly to your next destination. - I know people adore Isabelle but if she doesn't have anything to say, I don't really wanna hear about her exciting life every single morning. Maybe if it was about her fun weekend slaying demons with Doomguy, but not so much her extended thoughts on the sad decline of the Discovery channel. Sorry. - Optional “silent” bug-catching, fossil collection, etc., controlled with a toggle in the settings. You know how when you pull a weed or dig up a flower, it just goes into your inventory with no fanfare? Do it like that--after your first ever unidentified fossil, or first critter of a given species, your character just nabs 'em and pockets 'em. - Likewise, "silent" tool breakage. Give the full heads-up the first time it happens, but from then on just show the break animation and move on. Yeah someone might miss it when a tool breaks, but presumably they'll intuit what happened when they later realize it's gone--it's not rocket surgery. - How many times is Sahara going to introduce herself to me? How long does Gulliver really need to realize his phone is broken again? Edit visitor dialogue WAY down after first encounter. "EEK A GHOST! Oh no I explosively shat my immortal soul in all directions again, you know the drill" - And on the flipside, edit and expand normal villager dialogue. I'm not sure if I'm imagining it, but Lazies and Normals in particular seem to say the same things to me constantly. Normals' dialogue is also so bland that it feels like it was churned out last-minute for a Nick Jr. show to teach your toddler vocabulary words. "Today is fun" OK Savannah. Grow a personality. - Individual control over sfx and music volume in the settings menu. Actually, the settings menu in general is so bare I'm not sure why it's there at all honestly. How about giving us some settings? Y'know, in the settings menu, where you're supposed to be able to set the settings... those things you can set? - More pattern space, with separate space for separate player characters. A new tab specifically for shared patterns would be fine. - Let me order more items, and receive them with faster turnover via two daily mail deliveries instead of just one, as in ALL previous games. - If my pockets are full, I don't need a sloowwwww text box about it. Just jump straight to the inventory so I can drop-or-swap. - Nix the phone call every time I use the drop-off box. A quick ka-ching noise and a ticker showing my bank balance for a second is fine. - Balloon presents shouldn't just disappear when they fall into a flower bed. Finding the nearest empty square and bouncing it there is really easy. - Build in island-hopping. Go to a NMT island, talk to the dodo when finished, say "New island please", and go directly to your next destination. Either pull the ticket from inventory or storage, or pay for a new one on the spot. - And finally: TOUCH/STYLUS SUPPORT, especially for item menus! Let me touch and drag items, let me select menu options with a stylus! This is one of the reasons that NL feels so much better to play, it's a very basic accessibility feature, and besides, you're paying extra manufacturing costs to have a touch screen. Why wouldn't you use it?? I feel like this is one of the things they skimped on to get the game out in March, because some contexts allow touch and others don't, seemingly at random. Woooooof I think that's it for my megathread of kvetching. If you're still here, thanks for reading and have a cookie!
Peri-areolar top surgery with Dr. Fischer - the pre-op report
Hi everyone – this is a follow-up to a post I made about a month ago, asking if anyone would be interested in the details of my then-upcoming top surgery. I’m officially post-op now (five days!) and working on a ridiculously detailed writeup. This is the first part, which goes right up until the surgery itself. I’m going to wait a few more days to do the post-op one so that I can go up to the process of getting the drains out. Feel free to skip to the end to get to the salient info, and to comment with any questions about stuff I might have left out! So, without further ado, how I got here: First the basics. I'm 31 years old. I live in Maryland. I'm five feet tall and weigh around ninety pounds, give or take a couple in either direction. My chest measurement before surgery was about 28 inches, and about 26 "underbust." I've never been on testosterone or puberty blockers. I've never really had to wear a binder, and avoided it because I knew that I had to be gentle with that tissue if I wanted the results that I'd really hoped were possible. Keep this in mind - I'm hardly an average representation of anything, so my experience is most likely atypical in a lot of ways. But I'm hoping the overall information could be helpful. I came out when I was 25, though I'd known since high school. Top surgery was on my radar, but trans stuff was on the fringe then - I read a lot of "butch lesbian who got top surgery" blogs, which was the only thing that made it seem possible for me, though the thought of paying for it (I was overestimating the cost by almost double, and too scared to actually look it up) seemed unthinkable. I didn't know about anything but double incision surgery, which was pretty horrifying to me. So I put the thought out of my mind for almost ten years. When I aged out of my parents' insurance and got my own, most plans had a line specifying that they did not cover anything meant to "alter the patient's physical sex," or something to that effect. This changed a few years ago, but at the time I didn't qualify for sick leave at work, and I was still paying off my student loans. Along the way things progressed - I started using a new name, then changed it legally, and then my state started allowing "unspecified" gender markers on driver's licenses. I paid off my loans and saved some money, without acknowledging to myself what I was saving it for. And then I got a letter at work, informing me that they were now required to provide medical leave for anyone working over 15 hours weekly. And suddenly a lot of things came together, fast. My mom has always been supportive of me, but she was not very happy to hear about this. After talking it over a lot, we ended up going together to a therapist who worked with both trans people and families - incidentally, our therapist was also nonbinary, and we had to take a break in our visits while they recovered from their own top surgery. We visited them a few times over a few months, and they suggested that I at least look into getting my surgery covered by insurance, and directed me toward the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health. I had done research on several of the big names in top surgery, particularly those who do a lot of peri-areolar surgeries - I was very not into the idea of double incision, and knew that, while I was not the seventeen-year-old kid on T who's a sure thing for peri, I had a chance. But getting it covered would make the financial hit more bearable. I did some research on insurance coverage. When it came time to renew my Medicaid coverage, I switched to an MCO that had a history of working with Johns Hopkins. I contacted them about finding a therapist to write a letter for me, and about getting a consultation - I expected to have a long wait to meet with Dr. Devin O'Brien-Coon, but they suggested that I come in much earlier and meet with Dr. Benny Tan, who had only recently come to work at the Hopkins center, so I got my letter and scheduled my appointment with him. Dr. Tan had just started at the JH center when I had my consultation with him, and while he had a lot of previous experience doing breast cancer mastectomies, he was clearly a lot less familiar with top surgery. He was adamant that I was ineligible for peri-areolar surgery, and would have to have double incision. He seemed to have some weird misconceptions about the details - at one point he said that no one ever regains any nipple sensation after surgery (???), and when I mentioned the concept of the eventual shape of my chest being somewhat dependent on how much muscle I can develop through exercise he sort of laughed and said, "Well, maybe if you decide to become a bodybuilder." When I asked if I could see post-op pictures of some of the previous procedures the center had done, I was told no, that Dr. O'Brien-Coon didn't want to suggest that there was any guarantee of a specific kind of results. He seemed like a nice guy. He answered the questions I had, and my mom's. But I did not feel good about this. At the same time, I was trying fruitlessly to get any information at all about whether I would, in fact, be able to get this covered by insurance. I won't go into the boring details of one million phone transfers, but after several days the question was resolved: because the insurance required a previous twelve-month period of hormone replacement therapy, I was out of luck. At this point I wasn't even upset - it just made it clearer that my original plan was what I was going to go with. Finally, I paid $100 to have a consultation with Dr. Beverly Fischer in Lutherville. Dr. Fischer was one of the surgeons I'd been researching from the beginning - she's been performing surgeries since the 90s, including a lot of peri-areolar surgeries, and she also is the most local of the surgeons I'd looked into. I'd seen pictures online that people had posted of her work on people with body types very much like mine, and I was impressed. Dr. Fischer doesn't take any insurance (you can try to go through a process on your own afterward, and perhaps get at least a partial reimbursement from your insurance, but that's up to them), but I had the money saved, and I felt it was a fair trade to have a greater level of control over the experience. Since Dr. Fischer has her own small facility, the consultation was very smooth and low-key. Again, my mom went with me (this was right before covid started, but even now she allows one visitor to come with a patient). She looked me over and assured me that I was definitely a candidate for peri (they all say "keyhole" there, which confused me, but I'm going to keep saying peri, by which I mean full circular incisions around the areola). We were given a breakdown of the cost ($9,700) and shown into a little room where they gave us a binder of pre- and post-op photos to look at. Again, her work is very impressive - my mom, who was not familiar with the different styles of surgery, was reassured that they did not look as scarred up as she was probably expecting. This was a much better experience than I had at Hopkins, enough to convince me. Then the pandemic hit! Needless to say, things were on hold for a while. The library I work at was closed for over two months. In June, we started working again, but with a very minimal schedule. I'd been doing almost double my baseline hours by filling in for vacant positions, but now I was working fifteen hours per week maximum, meaning I didn't lose any substitute pay for taking sick leave. So I called Dr. Fischer's office and made the soonest appointment I could, for September 16th. I made a 10% payment over the phone ($970) and scheduled my appointments for three weeks prior to surgery. Three weeks before surgery: I went to Dr. Fischer's office for my pre-op appointment. Because I'd already been measured during my consultation, this was mostly a lot of information and question-and-answer sessions with their surgical coordinator Shannon. My mom came with me (all of us wore masks, and we had temperature checks when we came in, as well as standard "have you had any covid symptoms or been out of state" worksheets to fill out). Shannon brought out a set of the drains and showed us how they'd work (they are still stuck in me at the time of this writing, so I'm trying not to think about it too much!), and gave me a folder of pre- and post-op information, plus the sheet to give to my primary care doctor when I went to get my bloodwork done. The instructions were pretty standard - try to eat a lot of protein in the weeks before and after surgery (raises your red blood cell count so you recover faster), get up and walk around on the first day (helps the anesthesia junk work its way out of your body), don't lie on your back eating applesauce the whole time (you're not going to hurt yourself, live your life, just be gentle). Mentioned, but for some reason not included on the printed sheet: there's a one-day-post-op appointment the morning after, just to check everything out - this means that AFTER your surgery you shouldn't eat or drink after midnight, and through the morning, just in case there's an unexpected need to put you under to correct anything. I brought them a check for the remainder of my payment - $8,730. As weird as it seems, seeing the money actually come out of my bank account didn't bother me at all. I'd saved that money with this in mind, so it seemed natural to finally use it. They also gave me a stack of four prescriptions, which I filled on the way home: One pre-op anti-nausea pill, one pre-op Xanax, several post-op pain pills (hydrocodone and acetaminophen) and several post-op anti-nausea pills. Fortunately this was covered by my insurance, because I sure did NOT need all of these. I went within the week to get the required physical and bloodwork at my regular doctor's office, and just handed them the sheet that said what results needed to be sent to Dr. Fischer. Apparently there was some kind of faxing error and I didn't find out for a couple weeks that they hadn't gotten the results, but that was fixed by some relatively simple phone calls. I'd recommend calling a week after the blood test to confirm that they've received everything. I put in a request for six days off work - starting and ending on a Wednesday, with a normal weekend between. They usually recommend ten days, but I have a very low-activity job and only work short shifts, so they agreed that eight days would be fine. This is another factor that might have been different if I had been getting double-incision surgery, which I've heard can take a few more days of recovery. Some days later, I got a call saying that the anesthesiologist wouldn't be able to be in on the Wednesday I was scheduled for. I was all set to move everything forward by a chunk of time when they clarified that no, they wanted me to come in one day earlier. Well, okay then. I added a Tuesday to my leave. I am told that I will need to get an "excuse note" to take back when I return to work, which I haven't asked for yet, but will probably get at my one-week-after appointment. A few days before surgery: This is the time to get things in order wherever you'll be staying. Of course you can't prepare for everything, but I did as much laundry as I could, made sure I had plenty of prepared food in the house, checked out a ton of books and DVDs from the library. Trimmed my hair and nails. Note that you are required to shave your armpits so the tape doesn't stick to them when they bandage you up - if you're not used to this, I recommend doing it a couple days in advance, because it's a Bad Time. Night before surgery: I got the usual confirmation call from them the Monday before my surgery date. I got everything together (medication. Sweatpants, button-up shirt, socks, slip-on shoes, COTTON underwear, which is the only kind you may wear in surgery. The folder of information. My old ipod and headphones). I went to bed relatively early as I knew I was going to be up early, though it might have been better to stay up and have a late snack before the midnight deadline. Day of surgery: September 15th - my surgery was scheduled for 9:30, and my arrival at 8:30. I was told to shower and wash my hair, to only use antibacterial soap (we had the Dial orange bar) for my body. I used baby shampoo on my hair, because I wanted something that wouldn't leave any weird residue, since I knew I wouldn't be able to wash it again for some days. Deodorant is allowed, but no lotion. Brushed my teeth. No food, no drink, no chewing gum. I went to the surgery center with both my parents, but right now they're specifying only one guest per patient, so only my mom came in. There's a little retirement community and some stores around, so they had somewhere to hang out while they waited. I left my mom's phone number with them on a post-it so they could call her when they needed to come back for me. I took my bag and went into one of the patient rooms, where I was given this hilariously large toga-looking thing to change into. I gave them my bag of meds, and they came back with a tiny bit of water for me to swallow the Xanax. The anti-nausea one dissolves in your mouth and tastes like strawberry mentos. In a little tiny room with a ring light, they took a series of pictures of me from ribs to neck, at straight-on, side, and three-quarter views. Later I looked back at a computer screen and saw these pictures and briefly thought "who the hell's that?" Not that I'd had any doubts before that I was making the right decision, but that made it pretty clear. Dr. Fischer came in after that, and drew about three dashed lines on my chest. My assumption is that these were so that when my skin shifted while I was lying down, she would be able to see what parts corresponded to where when I was upright. I asked briefly about what kind of resizing she would do around my nipples, which are very slightly asymmetrical, and she said that she uses a kind of template that would make them turn out a bit smaller, and, yes, the same size. The anesthesiologist came in to give me the rundown on what would happen when I was taken into the operating room. I would put on a hairnet, I would get an IV that would put me out, then a mask of gas to keep me unconscious. A small tube would be put in the back of my throat to keep my airway open, and might give me a sore throat for a couple days after (spoiler: it did, but it wasn't too bad). Some kind of contraption of sleeves would periodically squeeze my legs to promote blood flow. All fairly standard, probably. So they let my mom come in and hug me, and I said, "see you soon!" and they walked me back. Sorry for the huge cliffhanger, but this thing is way longer than I thought! I'll be back with the post-op section in a few days, ok? And definitely comment any questions you might have. Recovery is boring. TLDR:
Total cost was $9,700, which was not covered by insurance, but depending on your provider it's possible to get reimbursed afterward for at least part of the cost.
Check with your insurance about getting coverage. Be persistent. They might have weird requirements that knock you out of the running, but it's worth seeing what options are available to you.
I had a copy of my therapist's letter sent to the surgeon before the procedure
Three weeks before surgery, there's a physical and bloodwork that has to be done by your primary care doctor, and the results faxed to the surgeon. I'd recommend calling both parties to confirm that the documents were both sent and received.
You'll need to be off work for at least a week, and more likely ten days, so plan for that.
Make sure everything you need is really accessible before you get back. If the cabinets are higher than your shoulders, put the dishes on the counter. It's like anti-baby-safing your house.
You definitely need someone to drive you to and from surgery, and I really, really recommend having someone you trust to stay home with you. Somebody asked about this in my previous post, and here's my updated answer: while you could technically be by yourself most days after the first, I really would not recommend it.
The night before, you must stop eating and drinking before midnight, but you might want to have a late snack if your surgery is later in the morning like mine was. I did not take this advice and I probably should have.
The day of surgery, no food or drink in the morning. Shower, wash your hair, and use antibacterial soap on your body. You can wear deodorant but no lotion. Shave your armpits if you haven't already. Brush your teeth. They will call you the day before and let you know exactly when you need to get there.
Stuff to have with you: Clothes that somebody else can put on you, including a shirt that opens in the front. Sweatpants are great. A skirt would probably be even better. The bag of pills they prescribed to you, plus any other meds you take normally (I brought my inhaler, but didn't need to use it). Just give them the meds and they handle giving you anything you need while you're there. A snack in case you have to take the pain meds on the way home.
Don't panic! People do this all the time, and the doctors know what they are doing. It's a lot of faith to put in someone you don't really know, but they want to do the best job they can.
Good luck to everybody reading this! I am feeling good. My recovery's been great so far and I'll go into more detail when I come back for the next part of this.
This is a guide to a battlecast brawler hyper roll build I've been working on in patch 10.13. (Or HyperBeam HyperRoll as i like to call it)
Down below I've shown what the comp should look like at various stages of the game, as well as the general strategy and itemization. Hyper roll builds have disappeared from the meta with the introduction of set 3.5, mostly to to the nerfing of key 1 cost units like Poppy and Xylah, the removal of the Void alliance, and level 4 rolling odds changing from 60% to 55% for 1 cost units. However, I think with the massive buffs to Illaoi and the battlecast synergy and it's units, as well as the massive increase in odds for 3 cost units from 10% to 15% at level 4 make this build viable if you abuse those odds to find an early Cassiopeia, and get 4 battlecast online early after hyper rolling at stage 3-1. You're almost guaranteed to have her on round 3-2, often you will even find 2 copies or a 2 star Cassiopeia on your first hyper roll. I think by shifting the focus of hyper roll builds away from 3 starring a board of 1 and 2 cost units, and focusing more on abusing the 15% odds for 3 cost units, and focusing on 3 starring a few one cost units, and getting super early 2 star 3 costs who unlock important synergies, hyper rolling can be quite good again. Anyways, here's the rundown of the comp: The build focuses on building Illaoi and Cassiopeia as your carries. The compound effect of all the buffs to Illaoi and battlecast have made her tankiness and power increase exponentially, especially at 3 star. Combining the buffed heal from battlecast with the bonus HP she got this patch, 10% more armor and magic resist steal and the massive 50% increase from 4 second to 6 second steal duration, allowing her to stack up much more at a single time makes her a way stronger unit at 3 star than she was in 10.12. Combining this with the right set of items easily rivals Poppy in the golden days of the Candyland build. As for Cassiopeia, despite getting a nerf to DPS, the amount of damage instances she does is very powerful with the battlecast synergy. With Blue Buff and Morellonomicon, you'll be dealing 2 instances of tick damage on your opponents entire team very early into the fight, triggering tons of blasts/heals. When played in this comp, she is a way stronger carry than she is in the Vanguard Mystic build, despite being nerfed. The 4 battlecast synergy has been buffed enough that it can crush early game and carry you through mid, until you find Urgot later, and the 6 battlecast alliance has been buffed enough to make this build viable in the late/top 4 portion of the game. Buffs to Nocturne and Kog'Maw aren't huge, but still relevant. This comp also makes great use of spatula. If you can get battlecast spat, you can run 6 battlecasts at level 6, without needing to to wait all the way to level 8 to find Urgot. The 480 damage blasts/heals at earlier stages of the game will pretty much ensure you steamroll. In summary, the comp wants to have long fights with an unkillable Illaoi and Malphite 3 star in the front, buying time for Cassiopeia's damage over time, and your battlecast procs to do work, while the combination of Ionic Spark and Illaoi's resistance reductions massively increase your damage output as your tanks run endlessly into the opponents units and debuff them to oblivion. Super Early Game (Stage 1-2) In the super early game, you should econ as much as possible. Focus on making interest at all times, and only deviate from this if it means picking up an Illaoi, Cassiopeia, Malphite, or Nocturne. You want to hang onto as few units as possible that don't go into the level 5 comp shown below. Holding onto one Kog'maw is a good idea, but 2 starring him before you roll down your gold at 3-1 isn't worth it. It costs way too much in interest gold and you will always be able to 2 star him very early with your hyper rolls, and having him 2 star isn't the most important thing. What really matters is having him for an early 4 battlecast synergy. If you can sell Cog'Maw to make interest it's generally worth it, as you can always find another copy during your hyper roll. You want to streak for maximum econ without ever breaking your streak, which usually means loss streaking until the crug round. This also ensures you get first/early pick at the carousel. Getting the right items, specifically an early bramble for your Illaoi, is important for this comp, so it's normally the best approach. I wouldn't recommend committing to win streaking unless you're entering the first PVP rounds with 2 star units and some solid completed items, or if you lucked out and got Cassiopeia on stage 1. Ideally you want between 40-50 gold for stage 3-1, at which point you hyper roll to 0 and try to 3 star Illaoi Malphite and Nocturne, while 2 starring Kog'Maw, and finding Cassiopeia 1 or 2 star. Consider holding onto Blitz crank and Vi during your roll, until you find the 4 battlecasts so you can play a 4 brawler start as a backup plan if need be. Sidenote: picking up as many 1 cost and 3 cost units as possible while you're rolling down your gold will slightly increase your chances of 3 starring units and hitting Cassiopeias by removing some units from the pool. This isn't huge but it can be the difference between hitting a 3 star unit a round or two earlier, which does matter. Early Game (Level 4-5) Level 5 You want to get Illaoi to 3 star as your top priority, while looking for Malphite and Nocturne 3 star along the way. Kog'Maw 3 star is nice but it isn't worth the bench space and gold and will ultimately slow you down too much. Getting him to 2 star early is all you need. The other goal is to find Cassiopeia 2 star early during the hyper rolls, but never roll specifically for her, as a 1 star Cassiopeia is all you need early on, and you should get her to 2 star extremely early naturally with your hyper rolls now giving you 15% chance for 3 cost units in the early game anyways. The only 3 star unit that is absolutely crucial to the comp is Illaoi. Malphite makes the comp much stronger if you can 3 star him, but the comp can function without him. 3 star Nocturne is much like Zoe in Candyland; a nice bonus if you find him, and quite useful with his 4 second stun, but you don't need him 3 star. It's always worth the econ and bench to hang onto him though. Since this is a hyper roll build, you never spend money on exp until you are fully ready to go to level 6, where your odds for finding 1 cost units decrease drastically. Once you find Illaoi 3 star, you should go to level 6 if you aren't anywhere near finding Malphite and nocturne 3, but if you have 5 or more copies of either of them, and if the units aren't being heavily contested, it's worth staying at level 5 longer and rolling down again for 3 star on all your 1 costs first. Be patient with your gold, and try to econ up to 30-50 gold before rolling down each time, instead of rolling all your gold as you get it, unless you are dying and have no other option. You usually want to run the 5 units shown above, however if you failed to find 4 battlecast, you can run 4 Brawler instead, although this isn't as good. The other main thing to consider is running Zed instead of Malphite. Zed can be worth it if you ended up with a 3 star Nocturne, or if you somehow didn't find 2 star Malphite on your first hyper roll, which is incredibly unlikely. Otherwise the 2 Brawler front line with 4 battlecast is your best option. Mid Game (Level 6-7) Level 6 level 7 At this point, hopefully Illaoi and as many other 1 costs as possible are 3 starred, or 1-2 copies away from being 3 starred, and you have 2 star Cassiopeia. The best option at level 6 is to add a Mystic to further increase your units durability. Soraka is great, and her healing has great synergy with the innate tankiness of your units. Karma is also great to link to your Cassiopeia. If you can't find a mystic the option of throwing in a 2 star Zed or a Fizz is also okay. Running Infiltrator in the place of Mystic can actually be better up until late game if Nocturne is 3 starred. At this point in the game, you don't want to be rolling any more. Just econ up and pick up more brawlers, and finish 2 starring everything you can, and finishing 3 star units unless it becomes unrealistic to keep looking for them. At level 7, you want to add in two brawlers and take out the mystic, for 4 brawler 4 battlecast. Adding Vi and Gnar provides much more valuable front line to buy time and drag out the fight for your Cassiopeia and battlecast procs to do work, as well as providing you with lots of CC. If the game is going well, i prefer to econ up to 50 on level 6 and slowly pump gold into exp, while remaining at 50 gold, then pump all my gold into levels to jump strait to level 8 right after, but if you are being pressured it's fine to go to 7 sooner if you're taking too much damage. Late Game (Level 8-9) Level 8 Level 8 alt Level 9 At level 8, add your Mystic back in (Soraka being the best). You don't have much to do here as far as your build, aside from trying to find Urgot and Viktor, if you don't already have him, to go to 6 battlecast. Once you find Urgot, either replace Cog'Maw with him (or Nocturne if you never 3 starred him) or take out 2 of your brawlers and go for 6 battlecast, 2 brawler, 2 mystic. If the game goes to Level 9, you can simply play 4 brawler 6 battlecast. If you're facing heavy magic damage lineups that don't require you to strengthen your front line as much (such as Gangplank/Riven and 6 sorcerers) you can consider 4 mystics instead of 4 brawlers. This is especially effective if you have dragon scale on Illaoi, and practically allows her to 1v9 against those kind of comps. Spatula Variation Level 6 Level 9 If you get a spatula, you can make battlecast spat and put it onto your Malphite. Malphite carries Ionic spark in this comp, so giving him the ability to output some magic damage is nice while hes tanking for you, but more importantly he has tons of hp to work with so he will survive on the front line for much longer with battlecast heals and keep that ionic spark aura up for longer. With battlecast spat, you can add Viktor in at level 6 for the 6 battlecast synergy. The DPS increase to 480 for each battlecast proc at this early in the game is brutal, and also makes Illaoi unkillable with the increase heal. You can play 4 brawler 6 battlecast at level 8 now as well, and at level 9 you can play a mystic on top of the normal comp, while dropping one of your less useful battlecasts. Items Carousel Priority is Spatula > Chain Vest > Cloak > TeaRod > Belt/Gloves It's essential that you prioritize getting Bramble first, Blue Buff second, then two additional tank items for Illaoi and Morellonomicon as a third priority, and lastly Ionic Spark or Rapid Firecannon are luxury items (they help you win more if you're ahead, but don't stabilize you if you're behind). Basically, Bramble vest is the most important item in the comp, with Blue Buff being a close second. They are the only irreplaceable items. Bramble plays a crucial role in carrying you through all stages of the game. It's value on tanky units, especially at 3 star, is too great to ever pass up. It will do a ton of AOE damage, and it creates quite a lot of damage instances throughout the fight to fuel battlecast. Ideally, Illaoi wants Bramble, Dragon Scale and Quicksilver. I believe these items best leverage her stolen resistances from her spell and increase her survivability. The armor from vest, plus the negating of crits, coupled with 20% evasion from quicksilver, makes her very durable against physical damage. The magic resist provided by Dragon scale and Quicksilver bring her magic resistance extremely high, and she ends up taking almost no damage when incoming magic damage is reduced by 50% by scale before even considering her resistances. The immunity to crowd control from Quicksilver is very important on her as well, as it allows her to cast without interruption, and she can't be stunned before she has a chance to steal resistances. Stacking up a few casts in the first 10 seconds of the fight is enough to make sure she is always working with added armor and magic resist. Getting these 3 items isn't imperative though, as long as you have bramble you can replace one of the other slots. Warmog's works fine in giving her more raw HP to leverage her mass stolen armor and magic res, and gives her more HP to stay alive and heal back up with battlecast procs. Titan's resolve is also an acceptable replacement as she is one of the units who can actually get it to 50 stacks and then stay alive and heal back up for a long time thereafter to make good use of the item to its full potential. Cassiopeia wants Blue Buff and Morellonomicon. With this combination of items, she can dish out tons of damage over time as long as she has a tanky front line to buy time for the damage to do its work, as we've seen in builds like Vanguard Mystic and Mystic Protectors. Given two sources of tick damage on every unit that she casts on, not only does she melt entire teams, she goes rapid-fire with the battlecast procs, even managing to stay alive through rapid healing if she gets jumped on the back line. The last item is Ionic Spark. This is best on Malphite 3 star, but can be on any Brawler. I don't recommend putting it on Illaoi because it offers less defensively and we just want to make her as tanky as possible with her 3 slots. Combining the magic resistance debuff aura and Illaoi stealing 60% resistances every cast from whoever she hits, your team will be able to easily melt enemies. Almost all item components have good use in this comp, but BF Sword is quite a dead item. The best you can do is make a Zeke's Herald or GA with it. Other notable items if you happen to get them: Rapid Firecannon - Great on Cassiopeia, and allows you to position her as safe and far away as possible. Any Bows you pick up should go towards building this item. It didn't make the cut for the item build, but it would be the next best thing that isn't on the core 6 item list. Don't prioritize bows on the carousel over anything else for this item, but it's nice if you end up with one. Protector Spat - Spatula should be built into battlecast spat, but if that ends up being impossible, or you pick up the full item on a later carousel, it can be great for Cassiopeia to perma-shield once you activate protector synergy with Urgot. Jarvin and Karma can be played until you find Urgot, to get protector and dark star. Thief's Gloves - If you end up with extra Sparring Gloves you can just combine them onto Nocturne or victor to get some value out of them. Frozen Heart - If you have spare chain vest and tear drops, this is a nice item to have on either a brawler, or on Nocturne. ZZ'Rot Portal/Redemption - If you end up with these, they're nice on Nocturne, as he will jump to the back line, cause havoc, then give you benefits for dying. Positioning Depending on what brawlers you're using, there are two general approaches to positioning Cassiopeia. If you have all your brawlers up front, it's best to have her to the second row against one of the edges, with a brawler directly in front of her. If you're running Blitzcrank, you can put him in the corner with Cassiopeia next to him. This will give her a target to attack in between casting her spell. Since she only needs to hit once to gain full mana with blue buff, she should be able to distribute her poison to most of the enemy team from the safety of the back row before the pulled unit dies, forcing her to move up closer. Malphite (or whoever ends up with Ionic Spark) should be towards the center to maximize the aura's effect. Illaoi should also be centered. Her and Malphite are the tankiest units assuming they're three starred, and it's also best to have her near the Ionic spark to ensure she stacks magic resistance reduction from Tentacle Smash and ionic spark onto the same units, helping your team burst down targets better. Nocturne can typically kill off a target during his 4 second stun duration, so having him jump onto a key spell caster such as Lulu/Xeraph or a carry is important. In the top 4 and above, his positioning becomes increasingly more important as you can target specific players more easily. Cow'Maw isn't the most impactful unit, so he should be positioned in such a way that he will tankenemy Blitzcranks. In general, I prefer to play towards one side in the early game, to better help your units focus fire, and cause battlecast to target the same unit. later on, I typically prefer to spread out more. Pros and Cons Pros: - Counters Vanguards and Mystics. Cassiopeia with Morellonomicon melts them, and Illaoi's spell turns their own strength against them, making her ridiculously tanky and stripping them of their alliance bonuses. - Counters Protectors due to Cassiopeia 50% shield reduction. - Not Super contested in general. Not many players are 3 starring these units, and with hyper rolls you can get your hands on the highly contested Cassiopeia before anyone has a chance to empty them out of the pool. - Good in Trade Sector, Neekoverse, Star Cluster, Superdense Galaxies. - Easy Top 4 if you get some 3 stars at a reasonable time, or hit your items on Cassiopeia and Illaoi Cons: - Easy Bottom 4 if you get unlucky with your hyper rolls - Can struggle against Blasters with the 80% true damage from Giant Slayers against your High HP units, and heal reduction from Red Buff. If more than two players are going blaster brawler, you shouldn't go for this comp, as your units will be contested as well and 3 starring the important ones could become impossible. - Can be weak against sorcerers. Burst damage comes in less, more intense damage instances, and doesn't let you proc enough battlecast heals. Their units often don't have much resistance to steal making Illaoi less effective and more vulnerable, as well as losing value on HP% burn from Cassiopeia since their units are fairly low hp. - Bad in Binary Star and Galactic Armory. Risky in Littler Little Legends Galaxy. If you snowball early you can crush the game easily, but if you take a bit too long hitting your power spikes, you'll be in a rough spot. That's it for the guide, thanks for reading! I hope you give this comp a try and have fun! If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to DM me!
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