Blackrock Mountain Progress

With the new expansion for Hearthstone announced, what progress have I made in defeating the Blackrock Mountain Heroic bosses?

I’ve beaten two more since I posted about beating Grim Guzzler, Thaurissan, and Drakkisath.

I didn’t record my victories this time, but I did keep track of my decks.

First up, I defeated the Dark Iron Arena using a Freeze Mage deck. Here’s the deck list:

Dark Iron Arena Deck

If you’ve seen other Freeze Mage decks, the idea is pretty simple. Prevent your opponent from killing you until Antonidas is on the board. Then use Antonidas’ endless supply of Fireballs to destroy your opponent.

The deck works best if the computer drops Millhouse Manastorm the turn before you play Antonidas. That didn’t happen during my game, but the deck was still strong enough to get me a victory in one try. Just destroy threats as they come up and use Antonidas as a finisher.

The deck is expensive to craft, but it gets the job done in constructed and in Heroic mode.

The other Heroic boss I took down was Garr, the guy with all the exploding Firesworn.

Here’s my deck list:

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This deck is also pretty simple.

On Heroic mode, Garr’s Firesworn deal three damage per death and he starts with seven. That means if all seven blow up at the same time you take 49 damage.

Killing them off earlier helps, but you still take some damage.

So what’s the easiest way of preventing the Firesworn from activating? Silencing them!

Mass Dispel is the reason this deck works. And there’s tons of healing to save your butt too.

I won on my first try without even using the Inner Fire combo.

I kept my creatures alive by healing and adding health to them against Garr’s onslaught.

Once he ran out of threats I slowly took him out.

I also included Mind Control Techs and a Cabal Shadow Priest to steal the Firesworn. This turned out to not be that great. I’d replace them with either Circles of Healing or Gurubashi Berserkers if I was playing again.

Good luck against the Heroic bosses! I’ll post more guides as I best the challenges myself.

-GoCorral

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Gazeara

Gazeara

The best thing about Gazeara is that everyone shares everything. The worst thing about Gazeara is that everyone shares everything. Gazeara is the largest communist society in Cimmeria with over 25,000 people. No one in the city need worry about food, shelter, or safety. The government takes care of everyone’s basic needs, but restricts their activities beyond that. This restriction is accomplished through a massive amount of scrying dweomers on the city streets and in people’s homes. If an infraction of the rules is detected the police can find that person later to arrest them.

Originally Gazeara was a monarchy, but over a hundred years ago a tyrant, King Shardamar, took control of the small kingdom from his benevolent father. King Shardamar established the scrying dweomers to stop crime, but later used them to stop treason and dissent. As people realized what he was doing they revolted. King Shardamar put the revolt down with a hired force from Phoenix. When King Shardamar’s incompetent son, Shardamar II, took the throne he was unable to satisfy the people’s demands and unwilling to sacrifice his wealth in order to hire the necessary force to put down a revolt. After his deposition the citizens of Gazeara elected a new leader, Leopold Anigama. Anigama has ruled for three and a half decades, faithfully following the public’s original mandate of making everyone equal.

Gazeara’s communist form of government led to war with its monarchical neighbor, Xoria. The large militia force allowed Gazeara to fend off the Xorian Empire’s forces prior to the formation of the First Alliance. In the war of the First Alliance, Anigama was slain by the leader of the Seven Rages, Grave. Without their leader the people of Gazeara were unable to rally. After the war they were subjugated by the Xorians.

While the Xorians ruled the city, they could not change the cultural conventions of the Gazearans. The ideals of communism persisted, leading to many minor revolts that were put down mercilessly. The trend continued when Jevaninada II took control. Unfortunately for the king, while his army was away fighting in the Battle of Phoenix, Gazearan rebels opened the gates of the city and allowed the Rebel army inside. Jevaninada II sent the Amazons back to siege Gazeara. They have surrounded the city which is now led by Major Dactirian of the Rebels.

Gazeara is a port city built along the shore of the Caspian Sea as well as along the banks of the Great Divide. The city is built in a traditional style with various farms and orchards surrounding the walled interior where commercial shops can be found. Ships launch from the harbor daily to find pearls, and to catch fish and urchins. Bigby’s Forest is nearby and the citizens hold hunts there on festival days with the permission of the Elves. The professions of the town are given respect according to what they deserve, but none are given more to eat than any other.

Before King Shardamar II was forced off his throne he used his wealth to replace the fountain outside the royal palace with a massive, immortal flame. The flame was placed on a three foot pedestal with a ten foot radius. The whole construction is called the Great Fire. The fire was meant to be used to offer sacrifices to the gods during special ceremonies and to always light the way to the palace for those who wished to find it in the city. Shardamar II and his family were executed by being thrown into the Great Fire soon after it was created. Anigama executed other traitors and spies with the Great Fire and now all capital offenses are carried out via the Great Fire.

Logan of Gazeara is a powerful warlock who attained his power via extensive study of the Great Fire. When his research was complete, Logan went to the Fire at midday and performed a secret ritual. He was gifted amazing power, but at unknown cost. Logan went on to join the Adventurers’ Guild of Phoenix and participate in the Battle of Phoenix. After the Battle he went to Jipangu to train new recruits in the army, but upon learning that Gazeara had been freed from Xorian control by the Rebels he quickly traveled to the city to assist in defending his homeland and its culture.

Speaking of Gazeara’s culture, ridiculous is the word most often used by outsiders to describe it. During his life people worshiped Anigama as an immortal even though neither of his parents were immortals and that has continued into the afterlife. Anigama is present in the city’s art even more often than Zeus. A popular image is the communist dictator battling Shardamar II for the crown on top of the royal keep. Art that doesn’t pay homage to Anigama is simply seen as inferior. There was a time when art that did not feature Anigama was burned in the Great Fire, but that practice has thankfully gone extinct.

The church and clergy of Gazeara functions like a tax collection agency. The people pray to Anigama and the Olympians for help in battle, to accomplish a daily task, or to save a sick relative. On holidays during his lifetime Anigama would speak to the people and perform miracles such as lifting the royal castle up from its foundations and putting it back down or causing the sky to pour down rain one minute and sunshine the next. Reenactments of these events continue today on religious holidays. Outsiders who visit Gazeara are stumped as to why Zeus lets these people survive with their daily blasphemies.

A number of strange customs have been created since the revolution. When someone tells you they like something that you own, it is socially necessary to give your possession to that person. You may then say you like something back, but not the item you just gave to that person. In the evening the people of Gazeara climb ladders to their roofs to watch the stars come out and talk with their neighbors. Gazearans also eat their food with tiny silver weapons they call utensils.

Gazeara has an amazing city layout well-suited for defense. Food can be imported by land, river and the sea making the city almost impossible to siege. The city design of Gazeara includes several walls and traps for the unsuspecting invader. The keep itself is a well built stone castle, but the real strength of Gazeara lies in its people. The Gazearans love the freedom they took from Shardamar and will never surrender to another monarch. The first invasion of Xoria was turned back by farmers, women, and children fighting with pitchforks, butcher knives, and walking sticks while they rode on goats and mules. The free education Gazearans receive teach them sound strategies to use incase of an invasion and give them the mental strength to never give in to tyranny.

A visitor to Gazeara has little to no hope of having a good time. There are a few sights to see, such as the castle, the central garden, the Great Fire, and the military museum, but none of them are worth the price. Any visitors must show proof of being a diplomat or be on a mercy mission or else they will fall under Gazearan tax laws. All of their magical items are forfeit upon entry to the city and not returned under any circumstances. Those who refuse upon stepping through the gates are tried for treason and quickly sentenced to death. If a tourist actually wants to stay for a few days they will find that failure to follow Gazearan customs leads to quick social ostracism.

-GoCorral

The Animals of Florida

We arrived at our hotel in Florida after midnight, when all the nocturnal animals are out.

Apparently armadillos live in Florida, so we got to see a wild one in the parking lot as we walked from the car to the hotel.

Darkness + No Flash = Potato Quality Photo. Didn't use flash so the little guy wouldn't get scared.
Darkness + No Flash = Potato Quality Photo. Didn’t use flash so the little guy wouldn’t get scared.

The armadillo wasn’t the only little critter we encountered on our Florida trip.

Squirrels and ducks were everywhere around the parks, begging for food and often receiving it.

The squirrel was frightening people by running at them to make them drop their food. Smartest little dude ever.
The squirrel was frightening people by running at them to make them drop their food. Smartest little dude ever.
“I came to kick some ass and eat some bread! And I’m all out of kicks…”

There were a few heron-like birds (later learned they’re called ibis) begging everywhere as well. Begging seems to be the best way for an animal to feed itself in Disney World.

I'm all out of good captions.
I’m all out of good captions.

There were songbirds flying around as well. One in particular would land on our hotel balcony after we were done eating breakfast out there and eat up all our crumbs.

There was another songbird that attacked the window of a restaurant we ate at. According to the waitress, the bird attacks its reflection during mating season to show off for its mate.

Unfortunately, the little songbirds were too fast to take pictures.

I did manage to snap some photos of some quick little lizards that liked to sun themselves on the sidewalks around town.

The lizards camouflaged themselves against the sidewalk and skittered away when we got close to stepping on them.

“I am the cutest lizard of them all.”

There were also fish in the many lakes that dot the Disney World Resort, but too many people were crowded around the fish to get a good shot.

So not only is Disney World full of tourists, its also full of animals for the tourists to take pictures of!

-GoCorral

Disney World Crowds

While  at Disney World we were constantly comparing the resort to Disneyland.

The layout of the Magic Kingdom at Disney World is slightly different. Different ride, different amounts of open space, and different general organization.

The fact that there are differences isn’t that surprising. The amount of space and the working conditions were different in 1970’s Florida than 1950’s California so the parks ended up being different. And now you’re thinking, “How many times can this man squeeze the word different into this post?”

What’s surprising is how different the park guests are.

In Disneyland most of the people are Caucasian, Asian, or Latino in race and mostly American in culture.

Definitely not the case in Disney World.

The people are a lot more diverse and they come from all over the world! Makes sense given the name of the resort, but I’m still surprised.

There are people from Scandinavian countries, Germanic countries, Asian countries, South/Central America, and India. I’m less than specific because I can’t recognize the other guests nationality easily from hearing a language I can’t understand, but I can get close.

One of the larger groups of people in Disney World are the high school Brazilian tour groups.

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Thousands of Brazilians. Millions of Brazilians!

Groups of about a hundred are all over the resort.

They’re super excited too. They sing songs while in line and occasionally run between rides so they can catch more fun before going back home.

Another highlight in my memory of foreigners in Disney World was when my wife and I were in line for the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride in front of an English family.

A father was taking his tween son and daughter on vacation and the son just couldn’t handle the Florida weather.

“It’s awful hot, Dad. They don’t have weather like this in England do they, Dad?”
“No we have the four seasons there. They don’t have so many here.”
“But it sure is hot.”

And some continuing variation on that between the son and his sister or his dad in English accents for the hour and a half we were in line.

At one point my wife and I looked at each other and couldn’t help laughing at how ridiculous the son was being. The father definitely noticed our reaction and he was definitely embarrassed.

His children remained oblivious.

-GoCorral

Traveling to Disney World

Last week my wife and I went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

We flew there of course, but encountered the dreaded problem of

Delays and Missed Flights

The plane we were scheduled to be on had a mechanical problem so it couldn’t fly.

While waiting in line to get out onto another flight we heard all sorts of people complaining. While I didn’t want to be rude and tell them off there, I can do that on my blog.

“Why do we have to wait in line at the lobby instead of at the gate to be put on a new flight? I don’t want to have to go through security again.”

Perhaps you missed the announcement where they answered this question, we’re waiting in the lobby because another plane is going to be using the gate we were at in a few minutes. If they spent the whole time up there giving us tickets instead of checking tickets for the next flight, the next two flights would never leave either. I needed to come down to claim my bag to get it onto the new flight anyways. Plus, there are four attendants in the lobby, so you’ll get served faster than if we waited for the two upstairs at the gate. Going through security again isn’t fun for anyone, but this is the fastest solution.

“Why can’t they check the planes every week for problems and fix them before the problems delay flights?”

Personally, I prefer the system where the plane is checked before every flight to see if it’s good to go instead of only once a week… Otherwise a plane could be flying for as long as six days with something wrong with it. Would you want to be on that plane?

Anyways, we ended up on a different airline with a connection to Orlando in Salt Lake City instead of Dallas.

We also ended up with a seat upgrade which was nice. Leg room and free movies to watch. Maybe not worth the five hour delay, but so nice!

After landing in Orlando we did the usual thing of grabbing our bags and the rental car before heading to the hotel.

We got to the hotel after midnight and checked in when it was “morning.”

-GoCorral

Dradelden

Dradelden

Dradelden was a colony established by the Amazons of Pontus around 800 BC and later became the last remnant of their country when the Persians successfully invaded. Since the Attic War the Amazons have been led by their strongest warrior until her death, at which point a tournament is held. The winner is declared the new ruler of the Amazons. This tradition held true even after the Amazons joined the Xorian Empire when King Jevaninada I married Queen Anajakaze. After the death of the married pair, Jevaninada II respected the tradition, but with the condition that the queen who succeeded his mother be made a Dragovinian. The new queen, Ashabodai, ruled for several years until she was slain at the battle of Phoenix. In the next tournament the council of the Amazons forbade Dragovinian Amazons from competing. The winner and new Amazon queen, Jittehalong, still nominally holds power in Dradelden, but she is forced to take orders from Jevaninada’s subordinates.

Dradelden is famous for the horses that are bred here. After the death of Achilles his horses, Balius and Xanthus, were captured by Paris. Upon Paris’s death they were left unattended in his palace stable until an Amazon, Anathilea, who had escaped the battle with the Achaeans, snuck in and liberated them for herself. The horses would have rebelled against her had they not know she was related to Penthesilea, the one woman Achilles’ loved. All the fine horses in the Dradelden stables are descended from those first two studs.

The excellent stables of Dradelden improved their stock of horses through selective breeding until a godly zenith was reached with no room for improvement. At that point new blood had to be called in. A group of Amazons were sent to the Whitewood Forest to capture some of the unicorns that are known to dwell there. Enough were brought back to breed with all the best horses of the Dradelden stables. Now the city has some of the smartest, fastest, and strongest horses known to humankind. Another oddity of interbreeding the unicorns with horses was unaligned unicorns. The common unicorn is white and values goodness and a few magical beast experts speak of black unicorns that value evil. The professional horse breeders at the Dradelden stables have managed to breed unicorns of any alignment and color.

Despite its vassalage to Xoria, Dradelden has kept a strong and unique warrior tradition. Every girl child that survives to the age of six is taken from her parents to a female agoge. All these girls are taught mathematics, poetry, and gymnastics from a young age. Once they are deemed ready by their teachers the girls learn how to use swords, spears, axes, bows, and any other weapon imaginable in combination with a shield. Most of the graduates of the weapon academy choose to use the weapon of Penthesilea, a two-handed battleaxe. Under the original terms of vassalage to Xoria the soldiers trained at Dradelden were not required to serve in Xoria’s main army, but could choose to defend only Dradelden. This remains technically true, but the Amazons must also obey their queen, who has ordered them to continue serving in Xoria’s main army. Many suspect that Queen Jittehalong has been threatened by King Jevaninada II.

As one would guess, because the women of the city are becoming soldiers and leaders the men take the backseat in society traditionally filled by women. Growing food, serving the upper class, caring for the horses, and the variety of other menial tasks required to keep a city going are all performed by men. The only semi-high class job that men are allowed to do in the city is slave trading. This is upsetting to outsiders used to a patriarchal society and confrontations between Queen Jittehalong and Xorian dignitaries have grown in frequency since she took office.

There are many farms around Dradelden that the city relies upon for food. They grow the grains and root vegetables that keep Dradelden’s citizens’ bellies full. Lately more and more of the food has been sent away from the city to feed the soldiers in Eastern Cimmeria. This has put a strain on the city, which only twenty years ago had a famine due to an arsonist burning half the town’s crops.

In the Second Alliance War the Amazons were initially led by Queen Ashabodai in the battles around Phoenix and subsequent siege. During the Battle of Phoenix, Ashabodai was killed by Logan the warlock during the Battle of Phoenix. After the battle two tournaments were held to decide who the next queen should be, one in Dradelden and one in the warcamp outside Phoenix. A human won the Dradelden tournament and a Dragovinian won the Phoenix tournament. The two champions faced off to determine who would rule the Amazons and the Dradelden champion won. Jittehalong was crowned Queen of the Amazons. While she remains loyal to the Xorians, she is clearly irritated that she must take commands from male Dragovinians. Every offer to turn her into a Dragovinian is refused.

-GoCorral

Inside Out Movie Review

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My wife agreed to go to see Inside Out with me after I begged (she usually doesn’t like animated movies).

As far as plot, there isn’t much to tell that isn’t in the trailers. The main character, a preteen girl named Riley, moves to a San Francisco with her parents and misses her old life in Minnesota.

Inside Riley’s head are five emotions that guide her life, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust.

The emotions guide what Riley does using a control panel in the headquarters of her brain. They try to align Riley’s actions with her core memories which define Riley’s interests, Friendship, Family, Hockey, Goofiness, and Honesty.

The move to a new state stresses Riley out which is symbolized by Joy, Sadness, and the five core memories being locked out of headquarters for a few days.

Riley is left without the parts of her personality that define her and she can’t feel happiness or sadness. Sounds an awful lot like how some people describe chronic depression, doesn’t it?

Inside Riley’s head Joy has to deal with how depressing Sadness is while finding their way back to headquarters.

The two of them experience a lot of fun explanations for why the human brain works the way it does.

Why do stupid commercial jingles stay stuck in your head? Because the janitors who manage memories send them to your headquarters as a prank.

Why do you remember some things, but not others? Because your emotions leave the memory.

That last one is actually true. It’s represented in the movie by the memories losing the color of the emotion that defines them.

The movie has a ton of cool visualizations of things. Riley’s mother has a set of five emotions running her head as well, but they clearly have Sadness as their leader. Riley’s dad is run by Anger.

The emotions have a control panel to interact with the world. Riley’s control panel is switched out for a larger one by the end of the movie with new buttons for puberty stuff. Her parents have even larger control panels with seats for the five emotions, emphasizing that the adults are set in the way the react to things.

Abstract thought is represented by a sort of abstract art gallery. Dreams are made by a cast of little creatures in the brain with scripts inspired by events from Riley’s day.

The end of the movie has a good moral, that all emotions are important, not just Joy; and that change isn’t always bad.

I’d recommend the movie to anyone who knows a little bit about how the human brain works. The description of emotions handling memories is visualized and explained in a pretty accurate manner and is enough fun on its own to warrant seeing the movie.

The story itself isn’t half bad either. It’s a kid’s story, but it’s Pixar! The always know how to pull at your emotions, espeically in a movie about emotions.

There’s also a good short before the movie called Lava. You could go for that or you could watch it on YouTube. It’s a nice little Hawaiian folk tale-esque love story.

So check Inside Out out if you like Pixar movies or the human brain (or love stories about volcanoes).

-GoCorral