Favorite Books

There’s this thing going around Facebook over the past couple weeks that finally reached me. No, not the Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m talking about a list of your top ten books.

Someone posts on their timeline and tags you in it. The copy and pasted section of the status reads:

“In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be the ‘right’ books or great books of literature, just ones that affected you in some way. Tag 10(ish) friends including me so I can see your list.”

I got tagged by my sister and here is my list:

Hyperion – Dan Simmons
Game of Thrones – George Martin
Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkein
Shade’s Children – Garth Nix
1984 – George Orwell
Dark Prince – Russell Moon
The Iron Ring – Lloyd Alexander
Nine Princes in Amber – Roger Zelazny
Gates of Fire – Steven Pressfield
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Obviously there are a lot of great books that I can think of that I didn’t include on here. Dune and Harry Potter for example.

I felt the list was supposed to be composed somewhat impulsively, so I stuck with what I first thought of.

So why did I pick these?

Hyperion is possibly one of the best space opera novels ever written. Dan Simmons is an excellent writer in nearly every genre. The story follows seven travelers in a space ship on a pilgrimage to the fictional Hyperion planet where a great monster, the Shrike, awaits them. The Shrike will grant a wish to one of the travelers and kill the other six. The travelers spend their voyage telling stories like in The Canterbury Tales (every story where characters sit around and tell stories now officially based off of Canterbury Tales). The stories focus on the travelers’ past lives and why they are going to get a wish. I put Hyperion on this list because it was the first book that made me realize I love fragmented stories. Like in TV shows where there’s an A plot and a B plot. I love that in books as well. Hyperion has three sequels that I’ve read as well, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion.

Game of Thrones is the latest craze. I got into the series right before book 5 came out and consumed them at a rate of about one book per month. They’re good, they’re sexy, and they’re one of my favorite genres, medieval fantasy. Plus, it has a fragmented story line! Perfect!

Lord of the Rings is also a great book. My dad spent years reading me bits and pieces as bedtime stories. We started with The Hobbit when I was six and didn’t finish until I was eleven. The Lord of the Rings also inspired my favorite hobby, Dungeons and Dragons. So this one’s got too amazing things going for it. AND FRAGMENTED ACTION  ONCE AGAIN!

Shade’s Children was my first dystopia book. It’s fairly awful as far as complex themes go. Some robots from an alternate dimension invade Earth and start hunting humans for sport. The humans hide underground, but their society is kept alive by the robots or something? Sounds like a Matrix ripoff. Still, I loved it. Also, I was eight around the time I read it and there is the barest hint of sex in the book. I’m pretty sure it was my first exposure to sex, so it is significant for that reason as well.

1984 is the quintessential dystopian novel. Also, its by Orwell who is an amazing author. I loved this book and I still love it. I love the genre. Putting Shade’s Children on my list reminded me of 1984 so I put it on as well. Like I said, I didn’t think much about the list.

Dark Prince is probably one of the weirder ones on this list. It is the last book in a trilogy. The first book is called Witch Boy. The author, Russell Moon, has only written one other book. I’m not sure why he stopped writing because his stuff is quite good (or at least I remember it being good). The book tells the story of a teenage boy who suddenly discovers he is a witch and accidentally kills his girlfriend with his newfound magical powers. He then discovers that she was part of some weird witch cult which plans to use him in a plot to take over the world or something. My memory of the book is hazy, but I do remember loving it at the time.

The Iron Ring is a story that imitates Indian fairy tales. My dad read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me when I was a kid and I loved them.  This was a continuation of that, but in an entirely different way. The stories were vaguely familiar because they used the same themes, plot devices, and stock characters, but they were also very different due to the setting for the story. Rajas instead of kings. Rakshasas instead of the Devil. It was really cool!

Nine Princes in Amber is amazing and everyone should read it. The book is the first in a series of ten books split into two halves of five books. The series details a titanic struggle between order and chaos across all dimensions. The center of order is called Amber. The series is extremely well written. One of my favorite parts is how Zelazny handles sexual or crude stuff in the books. He always alludes, but never mentions stuff explicitly. A character curses instead of “He exclaimed, ‘Shit!'” It’s very well done and I’d recommend it to everyone as long as you don’t require female characters. There aren’t very many of them…

Gates of Fire is a historical novel about the Greek defense of the Hot Gates of Thermopylae from the Persians. The story is stunningly realistic. The Spartans fight until their swords, spears, and shields are broken. All that’s left is their hands and they fight on against the Persians. I’ve always loved reading and learning more about the ancient Greeks and Romans. This novel gave me a means to do that in a more mature way.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy always makes me laugh. I loved the books and they are one of the few novels that I have read more than once. A few of the others on this list are also in that exalted category. The book is absurdist humor in a space opera setting, both of which appeal to me greatly. The Hitchhiker’s Guide was originally a radio show which I own a recording of and listen to occasionally in the car. If you like absurdist humor you should check it out!

Let me know what your ten would be in the comments!

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Meta

I'm the blue one in the middle on the right. Yeti to the rescue!
I’m the blue one in the middle on the right. Yeti to the rescue!

My previous post outlining League of Legends was forever ago. I posted League of Legends Map Part 3 on March 22nd.

Today I’m going to talk about the League of Legends meta.

In the everyday usage of the word, meta means something that is self-referential. But meta means something different when you’re talking about video games.

The meta of a video game refers to specific strategies used to play against other people.

The meta of a game evolves out of the rock-paper-scissors mechanics that most games use.

The meta can shift so that more people are playing rock than any other symbol, but if that happens then inevitably more people will start playing paper because paper is good against rock.

Or maybe the game designers will notice that scissors is losing more games than it should on average. The designers give scissors a buff for fighting the other symbols. The buff results in more people playing scissors and then more people playing rock because it counters scissors and on and on and on.

So what is the meta of League of Legends?

Like I said in my previous posts, League of Legends has three different lanes that shape the map.

Each lane has a set of resources that give gold, the enemy minions. Killing minions gets you gold.

There’s also the jungle monsters inbetween lanes that give gold.

So four places to get gold, but five people on each team. Not quite enough to go around.

The jungle, top, and mid lanes are what you’d expect. One person in each collects resources from that lane.

In North America the current meta is a large champion who can take a lot of hits in top lane.

The mid lane usually has a champion that can’t survive a lot of hits, but can deal a lot of damage with their abilities.

A lot of different champions work in the jungle. The North American meta for League of Legends jungle champions has been shifting a lot lately, so I couldn’t say what really fits there. In the picture above I’m a tanky jungler who can take a lot of hits and slow the other team down by throwing snowballs at them.

The League of Legends puts two champions in the bottom lane.

Because there’s two in the same place, you can’t name the lane based on the position. Instead the two positions are called Attack Damage Carry (ADC) and Support.

The ADC is responsible for shooting arrows or bullets at people. They’ve got a lot of abilities that make their arrows or bullets hit harder or reposition themselves so they can keep shooting arrows or bullets at the enemy team, but that’s the gist of the role.

The support is supposed to keep the ADC alive and provide basic utility to the team as a whole.

For example, a friend of my is playing Nami in the top left of the picture above.

Nami is a mermaid support. Her abilities let her heal her allies, trap her enemies in a bubble of water, buff her ADC’s attacks to make them slow enemies, speed up her team, and create a giant tidal wave that pushes the enemy team away.

So if Nami’s ADC is jumped on by an enemy, Nami can trap that enemy in a water bubble to save her ADC.

If someone is running at her ADC, Nami can increase the ADC’s speed and allow the ADC to slow the running enemy with their arrows and bullets.

The support’s role is so focused around keeping the ADC healthy and alive that the support doesn’t even share the gold from minions in the bottom lane. It’s expected that the ADC will kill all of the minions and get all of the gold.

So that’s the meta in League of Legends right now. More League posts to come!

If you’re interested in playing League of Legends you can give it a try using this link. Feel free to message me in game if you want to play a little with me! My name is SoapySeahorse on the North American server.

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Map Part 2

https://i2.wp.com/img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20131205125131/leagueoflegends/images/4/49/Summoner%27s_Rift_jungle_map_with_monsters.png

League of Legends Map Part 1

Today the focus will be on a specific part of the League of Legends map, the Jungle.

The Jungle is the space between the lanes and the river. There are four different sections of the Jungle formed by the X that the River and the middle (mid) lane create.

Each of the four sections contains three monster camps. Each section has a few names in the game. The top section is called purple top because it is close to purple’s top lane. The right section is called purple bottom (bot) Jungle for the same reason. The bottom section is called blue bot and the left section is called blue top.

The sections have other names that are used more often that refer to the specific monsters within them, so lets take a look at those.

Purple top and blue bot are mirrored and contain the same three monster camps in identical places. The central camp is the Lizard Elder and his two Lizard buddies. The Elder attacks with his nasty sword while the little Lizards shoot fire from their staves.

When a player kills the Lizard Elder they get a buff that lets them deal a little bit of extra damage every time they hit a minion, monster, or another player. This buff has a visual effect of red runes circling the player who has it. This red effect is why the section of the Jungle with the Lizard Elder is sometimes called the red Jungle. The two different red Jungles are differentiated by calling them “their red side Jungle” or “our red side Jungle.”

The other two monster camps around the Lizard Elder are the Golems and the Wraiths.

The Golems are two big rocky brothers. One is an older brother and is thus bigger than his younger brother.  The Golems attack you by smashing you with their rock hands.

The Wraiths are four ghostly looking things. One of the Wraiths is bigger than the other three. The Wraiths attack by shooting out little ghost lights from their hands.

The purple bot and blue top Jungle sections are dominated by the Ancient Golem at the center who also has two Lizard buddies. The Ancient Golem is the huge father version of the two Golem brothers in the red side Jungle. The Lizard buddies are just like the two that hang out with the Lizard Elder.

When a player kills the Ancient Golem he receives a buff, just like with the Lizard Elder. The Ancient Golem’s buff has blue runes instead of red runes. The player with the blue buff can use more of their special abilities and can use them faster. The blue buff gives these sections of the Jungle their name, blue side Jungle. Just like with the red side Jungle, the two sections are differentiated by which side of the river they are on, our side or their side.

The two monster camps around the Ancient Golem are the Wight and the Wolves.

The Wight is a recent addition to the Jungle. The company that makes League of Legends, Riot Games, updates the game all the time with significant updates at the beginning of every year. 2014 saw the addition of the Wight to the Jungle along with a few other things.

The Wight  is all by it’s lonesome in the Jungle. It is bigger than all the other Jungle monsters except for the Ancient Golem and the Lizard Elder. The Wight looks a lot like the Wraiths and attacks in the same way they do which is why the Wight is sometimes called the Big Wraith. I find this a little confusing because there already is a big Wraith in the Wraith camp itself. I’ll keep calling it the Wight and hoping that everyone else changes.

The Wolf camp has three Wolves, a mama Wolf and two baby Wolves. You can call the baby Wolves Romulus and Remus if you want. The Wolves attack by biting (obviously).

The monsters are a lot like minions, but different in key ways.

Minions walk down the lanes, but if attacked will follow the attacking player out of the lanes. The monsters don’t leave their camps. If you hit them and lead them away from their camp, the monsters will head back to the camp and quickly return to full health.

Minions spawn every thirty seconds. The monster camps only respawn if all the monsters in them are killed. The respawn times are 50 seconds for the Golems, Wolves, Wraiths and Wight, and 5 minutes for the Ancient Golem and Lizard Elder.

The monster camps do not respawn until all the monsters in them are killed. This allows a clever player to kill the Ancient Golem or Lizard Elder on their opponent’s side and waltz away with the buff, leaving the Lizard buddy scraps for the other team to have.

There are two more monsters on the map above, Baron Nashor and the Dragon. Those two are different than the other monster camps, so I will describe them another time.

There’s a lot more to tell you about how the map is played, so I hope you keep reading to learn it all!

If reading this has gotten you interested in League of Legends you can click this link to download the game for free. Doing so also gives me a little boost in game, so we’re both winners! League of Legends Signup Link

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Map Part 3

League of Legends Map Part 1

This is a map of League of Legends. I figured I’d bring it up to show you a few things about the game to help understand future posts.

The League of Legends map is split into two halves. The middle line is referred to as the River because in the actual game shallow water divides the map. This dividing line goes from the top left to the bottom right.

The two sides, bottom left and top right, are color coded in League of Legends. You can see the little icons on the map above are blue for bottom left and purple for top right. Because of these colors the two sides are always called blue side and purple side.

Each side has a corner deep in its territory where the base of that side is. To win the game your team must break into the opposing base and destroy the giant crystal there called the Nexus. The Nexus is represented on the map by the six pointed star thing.

The map is further defined by the three lanes. The three lanes are top lane, middle lane, and bottom lane. The lanes are marked by those helmet looking things you can see on the map.

Top lane runs the perimeter of the map from bottom left, to the top left, and then to the top right. Bottom lane runs the opposite perimeter from bottom left, to bottom right, and then to the top right. Middle lane runs on a diagonal across the map from bottom left to top right.

Every thirty seconds three groups of computer controlled minions spawn at each Nexus. One group goes down each lane. The minions of each side meet at the River and fight each other to a standstill. The actions of the people playing the game will tip the balance in favor of one side or another.

The goal of the game is to destroy the Nexus, but all those helmet looking things, called towers or turrets, protect the Nexus.

Each turret has to be destroyed in succession. An outer turret in one lane must be destroyed before an inner turret can be dealt any damage.

So why not just walk up to a turret and blow it up? Because it shoots lasers at you! That’s why!

The turrets prioritize their laser targets in a predictable way though. Taking advantage of this prioritization allows the turrets to be destroyed.

The first target of turret is always a player on the opposing team if that player is attacking a player on the turret’s team. The secondary targets are minions. If no minions are in range the turret will fire its lasers at any enemy players that come within range.

So the turrets are approached and destroyed by having minions going first and ignoring any opposing players that may be under the turret. This can be quite dangerous so a certain amount of strategy is required to accomplish it.

I’ll talk about those strategies in a different post though!

If you’d like to give League of Legends a try you can click this link and give me a little boost in game. League of Legends Signup Link

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Map Part 2