The Dark Seal is OP

Since after season 2, I’ve had an abusive relationship with League of Legends. A lot of things about the game annoyed me – I was infuriated that such a popular game would have so many problems with it – but I still had to play and keep up with it because it was the world’s biggest game, and I was a content pro­ducer and advisor.

Around seasons 4 and 5, I waned down my LoL gameplay to almost none, and mostly just kept up with it from an eSports perspective. I figured that there was no reason to play a “game” when all it does is frus­trate me, and I can gather all my research by watching others, without actually playing myself.

With preseason 6 rolling around, something I noticed a lot of people saying was how short the games were becoming. Most professional players said that their solo queue games used to be around 35 minutes on average, but now they were about 20.

If a game ends in 20 minutes, it obviously means that it’s saturated with action (or else one team wouldn’t be able to reach the Nexus in that time). I’m all about high-action gameplay, so I decided to give League of Legends another chance in preseason 6.

After going into a game, I noticed that there was a new Doran’s Ring alternative that was added to the shop – The Dark Seal. It gives +100 mana, +15 AP, and +25% healing from potions. It also had a passive effect – Dread / Do or Die – which grants +6 AP per kill, +3 AP per assist, and -12 AP per death (flooring at +0 AP and maxing at +30 AP).

If you watched my stream back in 2012-13 when I regularly streamed, you know that I am an extremely aggressive player who loves beating down my laning opponent and making them feel weak and vul­nerable. Even though I outwardly say that last-hitting minions is almost always the most important thing to do in lane, I will still forego farming in order to harass my laning opponent in order to assert my dom­i­nance in lane.

After I saw the Dark Seal, I realized that this ring was pretty much custom-designed for me.

It gives me a larger mana pool so I can use more abilities. It gives a decent chunk of ability power. It gives me a little bit more sustain in exchange for not having the +60 HP from Doran’s Ring. But most im­por­tantly, it rewards my hyperaggressive playstyle. If I manage to get a kill in lane, which happens very of­ten, I start stacking up ability power.

One important thing I tell people I coach is to not stay in lane for too long, even if you have full health and mana, because your laning opponent might have already bought items, and now has a power spike over you.

If you manage to send your laning opponent back to base through a kill, you’re going to start scaling up in power without having to return to base. Not only did you gain +6 AP from the kill, but you also got experience from the kill, and you’re soaking experience from the minion wave while your opponent is not. This almost lets you completely keep up with their item buys, without having to go back to base yourself.

During mid-game, I’m known to make majestically large errors that throw the game and bring my team into a downward spiral (and when I used to play ranked 5v5s, our jungler almost always stayed very close to me and acted as my pseudo-support to make sure I wouldn’t do this). This generally happens as a result of overconfidence – I smash my lane so hard that I forget that I’m still not strong enough to win in 1v3 fights.

The fact that this is a stacking item, and I lose stacks on death, is always in the back of my mind. I have a constant reminder in my inventory to carefully calculate my movements and decisions before making them. Although this isn’t going to make me any less confident in my play, it’s there to make sure that, if there’s a fuzzy line as to whether or not I will win an engage, I will choose not to engage at all (and not risk throwing my lead).

And finally, this item scales well into the mid-game, and is worth keeping in an inventory slot during the earlier late game. Without its passive, the Dark Seal provides 466.25 gold’s worth of stats for 400 gold. However, if you manage to hold on to max stacks, its gold worth skyrockets to 1,118.75 gold – that’s 280% gold efficiency.

So, the results of my Dark Seal games so far? They’ve mostly gone pretty well.

You may already know that I used to be a diamond-level player in season 2, so yes, this isn’t exactly too impressive (and if anything, it’s expected), seeing as my account is currently in low gold rank.

But, the point here is, a champion like Zyra, who is extremely vulnerable to death (especially when every champion and their mom has a gap closer nowadays), can still work extremely well with the Dark Seal, simply because of how good of an item it is for an aggressive playstyle.

I’m an extremely calculated player, and I’ll constantly be running a ton of numbers through my head dur­ing the entire game. There have been times when the Dark Seal has given me so much of a damage bo­nus that I miscalculate my damage, throw out my abilities to apply Rylai’s and Flash away, only to realize that I could’ve just held my ground and gotten a 1v4 quadra kill.

Now, as we can see by my defeat, what the Dark Seal doesn’t do is make you invulnerable to Warwick’s Infinite Duress, comboed with Jarvan IV’s Demacian Standard, Dragon Strike, and Cataclysm.

… That was a rough game.


“Why the lack of K/D/A was healthy … and why it was added anyway”

I have a new Heroes of the Storm article up on Tempo Storm, titled “Why the lack of K/D/A was healthy for HotS, and why it was added anyway.”

There’s been a lot of controversy about Blizzard taking out takedowns, and splitting them up into kills and assists. Most people agree that it only creates an outlet for toxic behavior, and a lot of people are against it. Most people on social media are giving the (obvious) reasons why takedowns should stay and kills should go.

In this article, I go over why the lack of kills and assists was healthy for HotS by linking it to a psycho­log­i­cal concept known as social roles and social expectations. Here is an excerpt from that section:

Before Heroes of the Storm (HotS) came out, I played a lot of League of Legends (LoL). In LoL, the general consensus (at least among lower-leveled players) is that you are too good to belong at your current rank, and everyone else is terrible and only got that high out of luck. Thus, the expectation of every player was to carry the game.

This expectation caused people to make selfish plays in order to get ahead – if everyone else is worse than you, who is there to carry the game better than you? You secure every kill, you farm every minion, and you deal the most damage to single-handedly win every fight, and ultimately, the game.

This expectation was thrown out the window in HotS, where everything relied on your team. Leveling was done as a team, earning takedowns was done as a team, and winning the game was done as a team. Thus, people came into the game with the expectation that, without cooperation, they were not going to single-handedly carry the game.

The disparity between the two expectations of the players of LoL and HotS is what made the games so different. If someone took your kill in LoL, they were actively trying to anti-carry you, preventing you from winning the game. As you can imagine, this made it very easy for people to lash out – why be nice to someone who is clearly trying to make you lose?

On the other hand, if someone took your kill in HotS, it didn’t matter, because everyone plays as a single unit, and all rewards are shared by the whole team. This environment that HotS created was conducive to teamwork. HotS was framed as such a team game, that there was very little left to argue about in terms of individual performance.

Blizzard clearly already knows this, and they’ve already seen all the community outrage revolving around this topic. So, why would they ignore all this feedback and decide to add it in anyway? It’s because they have a different vision.

Another excerpt from the article addressing this:

It’s all about the eSports.

The best way to get people passionate about a game is to support it as an eSport. Nothing charges up fans more than watching a game being played at the highest level on a grand stage by the ones they idolize. After watching the world champions receiving their hefty lump of prize money, there’s nothing more fans want to do than to jump on HotS and rank up to be the next big thing.

Unfortunately, in the state of the game prior to the most recent patch, that was a little bit difficult to do for two primary reasons.

First, HotS is too much about the team. In LoL, if you see SKT T1 win a game, you can go into ranked solo queue, call mid, and be just like Faker by solo-killing your laning opponent at level 2. In HotS, if you see Tempo Storm win a game, you can go into … team league with four of your friends.

The thrill of LoL is in the epic plays individual players make; the thrill of HotS is pulling off the perfect team-synergy move. Imitating a successful LoL player is very accessible; imitating a successful HotS team is much more difficult.

Second, even if HotS fans were to want to idolize a player, they don’t know who to idolize. Again, this branches off HotS being too much about the team, in the sense that individual players have very little unique identity. When you hear “pentakill” in LoL, you think, “WOW FAKER IS A GOD!” When you hear “enemy team dominated” in HotS, you think, “nice, Tempo Storm won a fight.”

A huge part about marketing is how you frame the product. Blizzard realized that the way they were framing HotS was not optimal when trying to turn it into a viral eSport. Everything is a balancing act, and they decided that downgrading the commoners’ experience was worth improving the hype around eSports.

The full articles goes into more detail about this whole issue, and also provides a funny story to help you better understand the realistic application of social expectations.

If you have any feedback on the article, or just want to discuss what I said in it, feel free to leave a com­ment on this blog post (or in the Comments section of that article). The way Tempo Storm’s Com­ments section is set up doesn’t easily allow replying to messages, so it’s hard to have a discussion on there, but I will definitely respond to all (non-troll) comments on this blog post.

Also, I’m always looking for good content ideas, so if there is something that you’d like to see, please let me know.


Temple of Orsis and Uldaman in League of Explorers

The League of Explorers expansion for Hearthstone is out! The first wing was released last week, and the second wing went live earlier today.

Although I personally don’t really like Hearthstone because of the excess of randomness and the numerous dumb ways you can unexpectedly lose the game, I still like to keep up with it.

I got myself the League of Explorers adventure and finished both available wings.

Sources: &

One thing I noticed is how many more cards are being given out this time as rewards.

Now, of course, just because I noticed it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true – I might just be imagining things.

It might also be because there are only four wings in this expansion, while there were more in previous ex­pan­sions, so the rewards that would’ve been distributed during the later wings of those expansions were in­stead just redistributed as double rewards for the wings that the League of Explorers does have.

Another particular thing I liked is the time/turn-based style of gameplay in two of the bosses, Temple Es­cape in Tem­ple of Orsis and Mine Cart in Uldaman.

Blizzard recently made a special Tavern Brawl where the two play­ers work together to defeat a single boss-style minion. I like the fact that they are being creative with their game styles, even though the frame­work of the gameplay is somewhat limited (in that the two sides are facing each other in a 1v1).


Patch 6.2.3 released today in World of Warcraft

The timing of my return to World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor was pretty lucky, because a new patch with new content just got released.

I have a stream VOD of gameplay from today of completing instances for Valor Points and new bat­tle­ground gear, as well as a VOD from yesterday, when I played for a few hours before going to sleep.

Sources: &

A few thoughts on some of the items from the World of Warcraft 6.2.3 Patch Notes:

  • New Timewalking Dungeons

    I like that World of Warcraft is cycling through older content to encourage newer players to ex­pe­ri­ence it. Especially with Level 100 character boosts coming out, some people won’t be able to go through the classic leveling process, and will instead just choose to jump to the level cap.

    Even for the people who do level up regularly, they will most likely be using heirloom gear, so the amount of experience gain from dungeons will be massively increased, and they’ll only do a few dungeons from each expansion before moving on to the next one.

    Back when I was an undergraduate in university, I played quite a bit of TERA, and one thing I hated was the lack of replayability during the end game. You couldn’t go back to redo old dungeons, so you were stuck just grinding the same three to five end-game dungeons to farm up your gear.

    I like that World of Warcraft isn’t falling into this same trap, and they are taking the initiative to increase the diversity of available playable content.

  • Item Upgrades and Valor

    Something I really dislike about some MMOs is how your gear becomes useless after a new patch or expansion is released. I like keeping my old gear and adding onto it with upgrades and features, rather than just getting an entirely new piece of gear.

    Although Valor upgrades aren’t going to keep my gear completely relevant forever, it at least makes me feel like I’m working towards unlocking better gear through improving my current gear, rather than just grinding for new pieces.

    The way that Valor is awarded also encourages players to diversify their played content. Valor Points are generally only available for the first completion of the day on various different tasks, which makes sure that players are mixing things up, instead of just getting bored repeating one thing over and over.

  • Warlords Season 3

    This sort of branches off Valor upgrades, in that, I don’t like how PvP gear becomes completely in­ferior when a new season begins.

    I would rather prefer to see a way to upgrade Season 2 gear into Season 3 gear at a slightly reduced cost than just buying Season 3 gear from scratch. The way that it is now, it’s as if all the time spent getting the best Season 2 gear was wasted from a long-term perspective.

    Either way, lucky for me, I barely had any Season 2 PvP gear anyway (seeing as I just started play­ing WoW again about a week ago), so I’ll be playing some battlegrounds and working towards getting a full set of PvP gear on top of PvE gear.


Black Belt Promotion Testing for Keumgang Martial Arts Academy

For a majority of the day yesterday, I was attending a black belt promotion test as a spectator to take photos, film video, and support the students.

Generally, for color belt promotion testing, I’m one of the judges because I provide a third-party opinion on the students’ performance (seeing as I’m an independent coach and guest instructor, and I’m not officially an employee of Keumgang Martial Arts).

Although I’m sure I would’ve been able to do that for black belt promotion testing as well, I chose not to for two primary reasons.

The first is because the black belt testing was being held at a different academy, other than ours. This a­cad­emy has a huge staff base, and presumably is proportionally wealthy. There really isn’t any reason for me to volunteer for this other academy, especially because I have very limited relationships with the staff there anyway.

The second is because it was far more important to me to be there supporting the students, rather than making sure they were doing their taekwondo correctly. I wanted to capture this moment for them and their parents, and this was meaningful enough to me that, even if the other academy were to pay me, I would most likely decline so I can be there as a supporter.

Unfortunately, saying that the lighting there was less-than-ideal is an understatement, and a lot of the pho­tos ended up being not-that-fantastic. But, through the power of Photoshop magic, I was able to en­hance them enough that, through white balance and contrasting, they look decent.

Shortly after I got back home from having dinner with the students and their families after the exa­min­a­tion, I posted 63 cropped and enhanced photos to Keumgang Martial Arts Academy’s Facebook page.

For the video footage, I clipped out the interesting parts and put them together in a compilation (and threw in some photos for short slideshow segments as well).

Yes, I am very much against Facebook video because they are essentially thieves, don’t compensate their content creators, and don’t react appropriately to copyright takedown requests.

But, I decided to upload this video to Facebook anyway because I used a copyrighted song in the back­ground (to which I synchronized the transitions), and I wouldn’t have been able to monetize it any­way.


I am returning to Draenor for a month

I started playing World of Warcraft during the Mists of Pandaria expansion back in March of 2014. I con­tinued playing until May, at which point I felt as if I got the fundamentals of World of Warcraft down, and took a break. The main reason I played back then was to understand the basics of what World of Warcraft was about.

Over a year later, during June of 2015, I redeemed a free seven-day subscription voucher that I received from Blizzard. My main motivator for redeeming the voucher and playing again was to get to Level 100, the new level cap, so I could earn a mount in Heroes of the Storm in a cross-game promotion.

Unfortunately, during that seven-day period, I fell short and ended up running out of time at Level 94.

About a month and a half later, Blizzard offered me another voucher, which I redeemed for a second week of free game time. That time, I was determined to reach my goal of Level 100, and I succeeded – I leveled my Shadow Priest to 100, and earned my mount in Heroes of the Storm.

Since then, I barely even thought much about World of Warcraft until four months later, in November, when I randomly pre-ordered the new upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Legion. I made a blog post on the sixth of this month sharing my pre-order and wondering how Blizzard’s marketing managed to get me to get a game that I barely play.

Now that I am the somewhat proud owner of Legion, I decided that I might as well play World of Warcraft again for a month to get back into it for a little bit and prepare myself for the expansion. So, I picked up a one-month subscription and signed back in.

To get used to the controls again, I made a new character – a Blood Elf Warlock on the Hyjal server. I set up my system and interface settings, organized my action bars, and started getting into the rhythm of World of Warcraft again. I also got a glimpse at what a Horde character is like.

This screenshot is of a few achievements I earned after hitting Level 20; I ended up continuing to level until I reached 24.

Afterwards, I went back on my Shadow Priest and transferred to a PvE server.

I was originally on a PvP server because the person with whom I originally played misadvised me and failed to tell me how dumb open-world PvP was. I decided that now was the time to move on to a normal server, and switched over to Lightbringer.

I still had all my heirloom leveling gear on my Shadow Priest, but that didn’t stop me from jumping straight into end-game content. With an item level just barely high enough to queue up for heroic dun­geons and basic raids, I started completing content.

Sources: &

It took a long time to reach Level 100 because I felt pressured at the time, as if it was a grind and a race to Level 100 just to get the mount.

But, now that I have no goal to be an external motivator, I’m focusing more on enjoying the game, and it’s a lot more fun than what I had originally thought.

The biggest problem with the map system being poor still exists, but it’s not as salient to me anymore because I’m spending most of my time in instances and questing on Draenor. If I do end up finishing all the Draenor content and wanting to go back to farm achievements, then I’ll probably get frustrated at the map again. But, for now, it’s bearable.

Overall, from the first few days of playing World of Warcraft again, I’m glad that I decided to play for a month, and the experience so far has been enjoyable. I’m hoping that this lasts long-term, through the entire month, so I can get the most out of my subscription time.


Stand United



Infographic: Heroes of the Storm World Championship at BlizzCon 2015

The final piece of content for BlizzCon 2015 is finally here, and it is an infographic on the Heroes of the Storm World Championship.

This was made in coordination with our statistician and our graphic designer.

Here’s a preview of the first segment:


The Heroes of the Storm infographics made so far by other companies weren’t that great. The information provided felt underwhelming and incomplete, and the quality of the design seemed amateur. So, I wanted to make a huge impression with Tempo Storm’s very first HotS infographic.

I have a decent foundation in graphic design, so I was originally planning on making it myself to try and get it released as quickly as possible after the grand finals were over. I figured that if we release it while everyone was hyped about the results and still discussing it as a hot topic, the infographic would gather more attention.

I quickly changed my mind when I opened up a Photoshop document and got to work. Although I was con­fident in making a decently-looking product, it was going to take an extremely long time, not only be­cause I was completely inexperienced with infographics, but my Photoshop also decided it would only move at about a third of a frame per second while trying to manage the huge document.

Instead, I decided that quality was better than speed, and passed it along to Tempo Storm’s graphic de­sign­er, who needed a bit more time to get it done, but was obviously far better than me.

After I saw his final product, I was very glad that I asked him to do it, rather than doing it myself.

Out of all the Heroes of the Storm infographics available, I think I succeeded in making ours the most com­prehensive and interesting, in terms of useful information and fun trivia facts.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve our infographics the next time we produce one, feel free to leave your feedback as a comment to this blog post, or as a comment to the corresponding Tempo Storm article containing the infographic.


(Almost) closing out BlizzCon 2015 coverage content

The last two articles for BlizzCon 2015 panel coverage were posted yesterday, but we’re not done yet!

I was planning on making a lot of videos as well – one for every single article, to be exact. That obviously didn’t go too well, because I ended up not making any. Not only did I feel like it would be redundant, but it would also take too long to get them made at a quality that would make me happy.

Because the articles were all overviews, there also wouldn’t really be anything valuable that I would dis­cuss if I were to just convert the articles into videos.

At this point, I’m thinking about doing just one BlizzCon 2015 recap video to summarize everything, if I end up having a chance to do that. Otherwise, I might just put my efforts into writing more complete an­a­lytical pieces on specific theoretical topics revealed at BlizzCon.

Meanwhile, I do already have two videos released for BlizzCon, both of them being highlight reels from the group stage for the world championship that I cut together.

Sources: &, via /TempoStormHeroes

I have one more piece of content coming up, which will finally finish closing out BlizzCon 2015 coverage. There is an infographic in the works, which will be released within the next few days.

We worked with a statistician to collect all the data and compile it into interesting categories, and we cur­rently have a graphic designer working to put it together into charts and graphs.


Full coverage of HotS panels at BlizzCon 2015, Day 2

The second day of BlizzCon is over, and my last two articles overviewing the last two panels are live.

Today’s first article was on the “State of the Game,” which went over the progress made so far in de­veloping Heroes of the Storm, the biggest problems being addressed, and plans for future improve­ments. Here’s an excerpt from the article; check out the original to view the embedded images as well.

The old matchmaking system was derived from the StarCraft matchmaking system. It worked on a basis of swaps, where it would attempt to create groups as quickly as possible, then make hundreds of thousands of player swaps until it could come up with a good set of groups.

Sometimes, this system would not work out very well, and that’s when players would see six-minute queues (which has recently been increased to ten-minute queues). Often referred to as “360YOLO,” if the matchmaking system made all the possible swaps during 360 seconds and still couldn’t come up with a good game, it would give up and just start the games without ideal grouping.

This system is being changed into a new matchmaking strategy where groups are built to be good in the first place (rather than just as quickly as possible), and is now based on a queue instead of swapping. Players who are in the queue for a long time will eventually start having a team built solely around them to ensure they get into a well-balanced game soon.

This new system has been tested with real data, and the results have apparently been great. Although the game director is unable to make any promises, he expects it to be released soon in an upcoming patch.


Here’s an excerpt from the second article on “Battlegrounds,” a discussion of the basics behind map design and an overview of the two new upcoming maps (Towers of Doom and Arena).

Arena was designed to be a quick, best-of-three map with fast-paced action around a single objective. It encourages even shorter game times and creative strategies.

Arena comes with controlled randomness during hero selection, where players can pick one hero out of three available options. An entirely random selection was not selected, because players like having some level of control, and want room to make meaningful choices.

These options provide you with three heroes from a single class archetype (e.g., assassin, warrior, etc.). To keep games fair, both teams will mirror the same archetype composition (i.e., if there are two supports on one team, there will be two supports on the other).

There is also a chance to roll a 10x hero mode, where all ten players play their own version of the same hero. Heroes who don’t heal much damage were removed from this clause, as they just drag the game on; during playtesting, a 10x Johanna game lasted over half an hour, and it was still nowhere near ending.

Arena is all about the action. All heroes are locked at level 10, and there are no talents – you just pick your heroic, and you’re good to go. This allows for a low learning curve, and applies heavy emphasis on moment-to-moment action. Teams can also never fall behind.