Tipsy Santa Blog Hop

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Dec 12 2018

We’ve got another Blog Hop ala the Monster Mash back in October with a comparatively long window to develop and refine a story in 750 words or less.

This time Ruth Long is hosting and there isn’t quite as much to go on in terms of prompt. Holiday and alcohol are encouraged elements, but not even those are required as I understand it.

As with last time, I’m getting this page up early as a place-holder while I refine my actual entry. Hope to see plenty of other entries on this one before the 18th!

It’s Like Competition, But Participating is its Own Reward

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Dec 11 2018

I recently had the honor of judging for Siobhan Muir’s #ThursThreads where for now I’m exploring Lucy’s story in my New Team Neoshieldfront universe. You can see who I judged as winning that one here.

This post, however, is because just yesterday I got to judge Cara Michaels’ #MenageMonday and that one comes with a badge for judging! You can see the three prompts and all the entries on the initial post, jump to the results post for who I deemed the winners, or just keep scrolling down for my own ineligible entry from my Fantasy Fighter universe in 248 words.

Wintery wonderland stretched out on all sides. Its vastness masked the ancient steamer’s speed but for falling snow rushing past the windows, as if fleeing the train’s destination. Hand carved benches and warm décor gave the passenger car an old world charm. Hazuki Akiyama kicked her feet contently and stared out the window.

“It’s like being in a Christmas snow globe.” She mused aloud.

“That ends at sundown.” The man across from her rumbled.

The man’s face was hidden by the hood of his night black robe. His attire would have better suited a time long before even the invention of the antique they were riding in.

“Ah! Gomen! I didn’t wake you, did I?” Hazuki bowed deeply.

There was far more space in the passenger car than Hazuki was used to. She sat across from the only other passenger on reflex. He waved a large scarred hand reassuringly.

“No, but how did you come to be on this train?”

Hazuki tucked her feet under the bench to keep them still.

“My gran gran got the tickets.”

The man sat up straighter, resting his hands on his knees.

“Your gran gran got you tickets to the underworld?”

“Too many demons have been escaping! As a champion of justice, I must put them back in their place! It’s like cops and robbers but with costumes, ne?”

Hazuki planted her fists dramatically on the hips of her poofy pink dress.

“Then I guess that puts us on the same team.”

They Always Travel in Packs

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Nov 12 2018

Here’s one I wasn’t expecting, I got another Thursday Threads Honorable Mention! How cool is that? Check out the prompt and other entries over at Siobhan’s Blog, or go straight to the winner’s post for the judge’s insights and the winning tale! I’m glad I got back into Flash Fiction, even just sticking to my entries that get recognized is giving me new content for this site until I sort out a longer term plan like Niar Saga or Lost Girls’ Society from before. Without further ado, here is a tale from my New Team Neoshieldfront continuity in 249 words;

Lucy squeezed the grip of her dagger, senses scouring the field for what had set her on edge. The air was fresh, the sky blue and the birds were singing. So many damn birds. Most of her tribe liked to brag about how tough you had to be to live in the desert; but it seemed much tougher to her to live in this pastoral setting.

It was the grass. The grass had set her off, again. Lucy sheathed her dagger with an angry sigh. She trained her skills to a razor edge, able to detect every foe even in perfect darkness. Being so completely surrounded by living things was unnerving. What was the point of so much life?

If Lucy could best her mother or her father in combat she could ascend to command of the tribe. She was sick of waiting. She had thought her father would be the easier option, softened by years of plenty. But she’d barely had a moment alone with him.

She dropped her face into her hands despairingly as the stampede of footsteps broke into the grass line. A chorus of voices shouted her name over and over. Then they had surrounded her. They always travel in packs.

“Lucy!” the eldest of this pack declared. “Our moms said you can take us down to the swimming hole!”

The greatest warrior of her generation knew when she set out that she had a lot of half siblings; but this was just too much.

Let It Go Metal

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Nov 07 2018

I won another Menage Monday over at Cara Michaels’ site! I have to say I was pretty inspired to learn (as one of the prompts) that there’s a male vocal metal cover of “Let It Go”, so definitely go over and check out the prompts and other entries if that catches your interest as it did mine. And without further ado here is another winning Flash Fiction of 246 words fleshing out my Fantasy Fighter story.

The view from the penthouse isn’t so different from my castle. My companion disagrees, and that’s not so different either. I am still looking down on a world I can’t touch, that exists in my shadow but is largely unaware of my existence. I do appreciate the silk suit though. I think I will make more of an effort regarding my appearance going forward.

My companion, on the other hand, was just as resistant to what our host picked for her to wear as we both were to coming in the first place. I had warned him that she was a biter. Hopefully he doesn’t require too many stitches.

By this time our forest should be ablaze with autumn colors, and I know my companion feels impossibly far from her kin. It’s an illusion. A thousand kilometers from our point of origin and I’m no closer to others; so it stands to reason that my companion is no further.

The window in the next room opens. My companion steps out over the ledge, catches a gargoyle on the way down then descends the tower’s exterior until the next rooftop over is within range of her prodigious aerial talents. Those talents being among the reasons our host recruited her, I hope this comes as no surprise to him. Mostly I hope I won’t be called on to retrieve her.

I have decided to fight for our host’s cause. As for my companion, I’d rather let her go.

Thursday Threads Week 337

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Nov 04 2018

It was a good week for me for Flash Fiction! After the Menage Monday win I also got Honorable Mention over at Thursday Threads. You can check out the host, Siobhan Muir’s site for the prompt, rules and other entries here–or just skip to the judging and the winning tale here!

For here it seems like as long as I’m going to show off my honorable mention badge I might as well post the story that won it too–the 249 word story of a Sentinel I created for Zensara Studios’ Unity Table-Top Role-Playing Game, who does not appear themselves in the story.

The Fell Tormentor twisted its head around, trying to work out the kinks. A massive yawn revealed all four rows of razor teeth in its double jaws. One more village to harvest and it could finally get back to the warmth of the Pit. Finally one of its Grim Captains came shuffling back, with a few extra breaks in his limbs from the look of things.

“What’s taking so long?” The Tormentor growled.

The Captain saluted as best he could with his dangling arm.

“We encountered resistance… We’ve been hammering them, but we can’t get through…”

The Tormentor dropped its face into one of its talons. Leave it to ghouls and zombies to be impeded by mortal soldiers.

“How many are there?”

The Captain hung his head. “There’s just one.”

“You said you’ve been hammering ‘them’.”

“We can’t tell if they’re a boy or a girl.”

“Boy or a… How young is this lone defender?” The Tormentor’s eyes flashed dangerously.

“Almost twenty winters! Probably…”

At least the Captain seemed to understand the severity of his failure. Since the masters complained about harvests coming back in too many pieces, the Tormentor had tried to leave the actual work to its minions.

“They can’t possibly cover the entire village! Just surround them!”

“We did, but they built up the village walls with our fallen.”

“How many of us are left?”

“Just the two of us are left.”

The Tormentor grumbled darkly. This would not be a good return to the Pit.

Menage Monday 2×05

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 31 2018

Super Excited to be able to say that I won a Menage Monday challenge! My entry pertains to the Monster Mash entry I did for the blog hop and can be considered to take place after it. Thanks to Cara Michaels for hosting and Ruth Long for judging! There were some good reads this week, so for the other stories and the prompts (Menage Monday always has 3–this time a picture, the phrase “not an option” and the song “I Put A Spell on You”) head over to the challenge page!

2×05 Champ

David A. Ludwig | @DavidALudwig

For use of prompts and story impact. There was so much STORY packed into these 152 words and the PROMPTS were seamlessly tucked into the action. I found myself wishing there was more to read.

The winning tale:

“Where is the demon?”

Mifuyu woke in darkness, smothered by the stench of burnt flesh and stinging ache of returning to her body with fresh injuries. The last thing she remembered was a knock at the door, and a man’s voice saying ‘room service’. That could have been months ago. She hadn’t been so naïve as to hope she’d awaken in her hotel room, but this situation was definitely worse than usual.

The agent jerked Mifuyu’s head back by the hair. “This doesn’t end until you answer my questions.”

The involuntary medium looked up at her tormentor with resigned eyes. But when she tried to speak she couldn’t make a sound. She couldn’t even open her mouth. Why couldn’t she open her mouth?

BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE.

“You will tell me where the demon is.”

Mifuyu watched the interrogator light a propane torch. The demon was still here. Telling was not an option.

 

I left comments on all of the other entries for the Monster Mash challenge, but even after multiple attempts some never showed up. If someone wants my response to an entry for a flash fiction challenge I participated in, you can be sure I had one–but I guess trouble shooting the comment side of internet posts is enough outside my wheelhouse to call 2 attempts enough.

Monster Mash 2018

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 17 2018

Okay, I’m going to take a shot at this longer period and higher word-count flash-fiction challenge. If anyone else wants to get in on it check out the details at Laura James’ website.

A Halloween/Monster/Horror related story of 500-750 words inspired by Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love Yous” song. Weighing in at 743 words including the title, I present;

No More

The gilded iron doors to the underground club had been knocked off their hinges into the decadent entryway. Red drapery and dim light masked the spilt blood from sight, but did nothing for the choking stench of violence and fear. It was nothing Aphrodite hadn’t seen before. She pushed her regret at not arriving sooner to the back of her mind.

Her cerulean cane in one hand and trusty pistol braced on top of that, she advanced as quickly as prudence permitted. She was immediately engulfed by agonized groans of the dazed and wounded patrons. Hellish shrieking came from deeper still into the bowels of this temple to sin. The veteran agent only had one target here, but she’d been in the business too long to assume that meant only one threat.

Aphrodite dropped to a knee behind the balcony railing and averted her eyes from a sudden intense blaze. On the dance floor below, an Asian woman—just a little too big for her gore drenched school uniform—had also rolled out of the way of the fiery blast. Even as the club returned to its discreet ambient lighting, the woman’s shadow thrashed around like a crazed animal and the woman gave another unearthly shriek. Mifuyu Shizuka, Aphrodite’s target, was apparently still possessed by the demon the crazed medium had stolen from Aphrodite’s best freelancer.

“Kill you! I’ll kill you!!!” Mifuyu howled as she rushed a buxom Grecian business woman across the dance floor.

The Greek smiled coldly. “This should have been between us. I will make you regret harming my patrons.”

The club owner’s leathery wings spread as she materialized a whip of brilliant flame to drive her assailant back out of range. Aphrodite cursed. Things just got a little too interesting. As shadow and flame clashed cataclysmically below, Aphrodite holstered her side arm and set down her cane. Taking her rifle from her back, she braced it on the railing and debated who to aim it at.

The crazed medium ducked and wove in repeated attempts to outflank her opponent with her autonomous shadow. Eruptions of hellish fire kept the fiendish club owner safe as the battle destroyed the dance floor. With a practiced sigh, the agent squeezed the trigger and ended the fight.

Thirty minutes later paramedics were removing the last of the patrons. Aphrodite sat back to back with the owner in the middle of the shattered dance floor. No wings, horns or tail were evident on the owner anymore—not even any tell where they had come from.

“Thank you,” the owner leaned her head back against Aphrodite’s. “for your help.”

“Hhm…” Aphrodite ran her thumb over the silver ball head of her cane.

“My name is Melantha Karahalios, by the way.”

“I know.”

“Oh… Then it was hard for you deciding who to shoot? I really thank you then.”

“She hurt one of my men. Badly.”

Aphrodite tucked her chin in, and Melantha lowered her head too. There was silence. The dark haired succubus glanced over her shoulder at the platinum blonde human.

“I have been a big fan of your career from the beginning.” Melantha offered.

Aphrodite clenched her jaw, “Then you should have known better than to try to end the world.”

Melantha shrugged with a flourish of her manicured red nails. “That was months ago. Besides, I couldn’t very well get out of it. You know how it is; demons and contracts.”

“You’re still on the list.”

The demon’s wings emerged long enough to pull her to her feet with a single powerful flap. Aphrodite glanced back at where Melantha had made sure to leave her left leg to keep the agent from falling backward.

“Well, thank you for clearing the club first. Shall we dance?” Melantha reached down a hand to help Aphrodite up.

Aphrodite looked at the proffered hand a moment before shaking her head.

“I’m tired.”

The human collected her rifle and slung it back over her shoulder, rising to her feet with the help of her cane. Her succubus companion tittered happily with a gesture to the backlit bar up the stairs.

“In that case, can I buy you a drink?”

Aphrodite felt a twinge of longing for her fast living hard drinking youth.

“Maybe… tea.”

She would carry on as she always had another day. For now, she would indulge a well earned respite. The two women ascended the stairs together, sisters for an ephemeral moment.

#ACHARACTERWHO

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Sep 30 2018

I was rather inspired by @erikadunn_ ‘s September Character Design Challenge on Twitter, since I absolutely love characters. So even though as a writer rather than an artist I didn’t feel like I was exactly the intended participant for the challenge (though I can’t find it anymore some of the art particularly by Erika herself was amazing) I still decided to participate in my own way. My personal twist on the challenge was I wanted to see if I could do it without creating any new characters, and I felt like my roster of characters was deep enough to have a shot at that. Ultimately I fell a little short and the process was more difficult than I originally anticipated even though I planned to dodge the hard part by not making any new artwork.

 

  1. A character who is a 3 inch tall warrior = Roberia, the Arms Master for the Seelie Court of Terra (the same world as Horera from Lost Girls Society) is a fiery pixie with a blade for every occasion. She has an all-offense fighting style and struggles to relate to defensive fighting styles. While my fairies and pixies are more in the 1 to 3 foot range, Roberia was 3 inches tall during her childhood and already a warrior then.
    1. Class: Arms Master
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Pixie
    4. Orientation: Bi
    5. Strengths: Passionate, Blade Mastery, Loyalty, Positivity
    6. Weaknesses: Impulsive, Blunt, Masochism
    7. Likes: Fighting, weapons, blood, dancing, her sister (Althea)
    8. Dislikes: Waiting, Cowardice, Cruelty
    9. Aside: With the number of fairy-like characters in my portfolio, I was actually surprised to realize I couldn’t come up with any warriors who were 3 inches when full grown–my smallest full grown warrior was 4 inches but I couldn’t find my notes on him, though the healer and the mage in his group were both 3 inches. Also, posting the pictures I could scrounge up on Twitter I realized I had a serious over-representation of my blonde characters which I had not intended. So maybe I should have used Roberia’s brunette apprentice, Giselle, instead of Roberia herself.
  2. A character who is a chef = Chef Chatte, a bio-engineered cat-girl associated with the bio-engineered bunny-girl maid, Coneja. One of two results of a mad scientist’s experiments that didn’t come out completely monstrous in nature, Chatte is nonetheless capricious and completely self-serving and her ambition is to one day eat Coneja. When the scientist was alive, Chatte was his personal chef, now she prepares meals for Coneja and the task force deployed to clean up her creator’s various secret labs.
    1. Class: Chef
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Catgirl
    4. Orientation: Only interested in Coneja, and even that may only be for literally eating her
    5. Strengths: Cooking, reading people, taking advantage
    6. Weaknesses: Aloofness, Irritability, Lack of Discipline
    7. Likes: Coneja, Food, Games, Catnip, Alcohol
    8. Dislikes: Obligations, Getting Wet, Cockroaches
    9. Aside: Yes, her name can be interpreted as naughty–so was the scientist who created her. Also, I’m shocked how much trouble I had coming up with a Chef character, I have since remembered more and am certain I have many.
  3. A character who has really long hair = Yoshiko, the maid of a reclusive old man who willed a cursed comb to her that brought her hair to life, gave it a mind of its own and made it very long. Her own desires for life were quiet and comfort, but her animated hair is much more ambitious resulting in Yoshiko being dragged by her hair into adventures she never wanted.
    1. Class: Wandering Maid
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Human/Kejourou
    4. Orientation: Straight (especially her hair)
    5. Strengths: Diligent, Patient, Observant, Empathetic, Magic Hair (strong, flexible, etc.)
    6. Weaknesses: Overly accommodating, uneducated, non-athletic
    7. Likes: Fluffy beds, lazy afternoons, tea, company
    8. Dislikes: Conflict, stress, pushy people (and hair)
    9. Aside: Yoshiko is actually a role-playing character I have multiple variations on depending on the setting she’s used in, from different cultural heritages to different causes for the animated hair including alien abduction.
  4. A character who has really strong thighs = Gregory the Black, a muscle-bound and wild looking sorcerer and partner of a cool swordmaster. Gregory’s appearance and mannerisms can frighten others without him meaning to, but really he’s a big softy and actually the voice of compassion in his adventuring party. When he needs to unwind or de-stress he finds inner peace by body-building.
    1. Class: Sorcerer
    2. Pro-nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Human
    4. Orientation: Gay
    5. Strengths: Calm, Analytical, Physically Fit, Magic
    6. Weaknesses: Intimidating, Can’t hold his liquor, Loud
    7. Likes: Tight bodies and clothes, summer days, star gazing, academics
    8. Dislikes: Ignorance, Pain, Being Helpless
  5. A character who only wears one color = Emathyst Flower, a pleasant and airy elf barbarian with a strong sense of spirituality. She allows herself to be moved by spirits both literal and figurative in her attempt to live her best life and allow others to do the same. Her skin, hair and eyes are all shades of purple and by no conscious choice on her part Emathyst tends to dress in that color as well.
    1. Class: Barbarian
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Elf
    4. Orientation: Mostly Straight
    5. Strengths: Physical Strength and Endurance, Empathy, Spirituality, Insight
    6. Weaknesses: Air-headed, academics, socialization
    7. Likes: Spirits, nature, pleasure, people
    8. Dislikes: Spite, the undead, control
    9. Aside: Emathyst is the role-playing character I have created in the most different systems and I have yet to find a system I can’t make a satisfying iteration of the character for–which is very fun for me. Even my most thematic characters, including Emathyst, tend to include accent colors in their outfits instead of literally only wearing one color. The actual picture is her Valla incarnation for Zensara Studios Unity TTRPG (see below). In retrospect I should have gone with one of my superhero characters and fallen back on the classic hero/secret-identity are distinct characters for this particular prompt.
  6. A character who is inspired by your heritage = Ethan White is the prince of a secret kingdom which has carried the ideals of Camelot into the modern age, and is foremost among his kingdom’s order of Rune Knights–whose martial and mystic training put them fully on par with super heroes. As Silver Knight, Ethan personally is able to keep pace with even the greatest heroes in the world. I consider it fair to say Ethan and the Rune Knights were derived from my European heritage, even though that wasn’t a particularly conscious choice at the time.
    1. Class: Rune Knight
    2. Pro-nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Human
    4. Orientation: Straight
    5. Strengths: Physical and Mental training, swordsmanship, magic, confidence and determination
    6. Weaknesses: Arrogance, simplistic world-view, tries too hard
    7. Likes: Adulation, beautiful women, accomplishments, summertime
    8. Dislikes: Criticism, being wrong, arrogance in others
    9. Aside: I came up with Silver Knight in elementary school, along with the larger story he’s actually only a side character in. He and his Rune Knights have changed more than any other part of that story from initial conception, and are almost certain to change further before actually being ready to release into the world.
  7. A character who is studying alchemy = Xevin Sannonel, a Valla diplomat to the Human lands during the Golden Age of Unity, who became fascinated with Human science including alchemy and has studied it ever since. He’s a hobbyist, but with a keen mind and hundreds of years of study he’s an extremely talented hobbyist. He was marrying a human woman named Ginny when The Cataclysm struck; slaying their wedding party, turning Ginny into a Shade bound to Xevin, and necrotizing Xevin’s flesh.
    1. Class: Driftwalker
    2. Pro-nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Valla
    4. Orientation: Bi
    5. Strengths: Experience and insight, patience, endurance
    6. Weaknesses: Depleted vitality, absent minded, Ginny’s undeath
    7. Likes: Science and technology, loves Ginny, life
    8. Dislikes: Desolation, suffering, loneliness
    9. Aside: Since I created him for Zensara Studios’ Unity Table-Top Role-Playing Game, Xevin is one of my most recent characters and one I had the good fortune of being able to commission a picture of from @gchoule on Twitter.
  8. A character who is grumpy = Anastasia Heavenrent, the immortal Dark Hunter is very grumpy. Like, she is seriously never happy. She should have died performing a demonic ritual to impress a guy, which did claim the lives of her family and the guy, but instead she was the sole survivor and imbued with supernatural powers. She has spent centuries fighting battles she doesn’t feel are hers to try and atone for her past but has never even considered forgiving herself for what she’s done.
    1. Class: Dark Hunter
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Immortal (once human)
    4. Orientation: Straight
    5. Strengths: Experience, Power, skill, focus
    6. Weaknesses: Makes bad choices, resentful, distrustful, mean
    7. Likes: Red wine, dark chocolate, roses, hot baths
    8. Dislikes: People, herself, damnation
  9. A character who has a replaced body part = Cinder the Entropist, an Afflicted War Priest of Aluvane who follows her own philosophy of purging flame. She is grim and silent with a troubled past. Her eyes and vocal chords have been replaced by mechanical substitutions due to the Phage–which has since mostly settled in her bone marrow requiring steel grafts to reinforce her spine, limbs and right hip.
    1. Class: War Priest
    2. Pro-Nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Afflicted
    4. Orientation: Asexual
    5. Strengths: Keen mind, mechanical enhancements, fire and healing magic
    6. Weaknesses: The Phage, perpetual outsider
    7. Likes: Fire, justice, meditation
    8. Dislikes: Cold, darkness, swimming, conversation
    9. Aside: Like Xevin above, Cinder is a character for Zensara Studios’ Unity TTRPG who I was able to commission a portrait of from G.C. Houle.
  10. A character who smells nice = Sheya Dinah, the human mercenary from the frozen northlands of Niar appearing in Niar Saga. Living in a harsh icy climate, constant training and fighting for a living can all be very hard on the skin. Sheya takes care of her skin with a special lotion she applies twice daily, and as a result has a very pleasant floral scent that has suffused her skin. Though after particularly gruesome battles she doesn’t always smell nice.
    1. Class: Fighter
    2. Pro-Nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Human
    4. Orientation: Straight
    5. Strengths: Disciplined, Strong, Agile, Tactical
    6. Weaknesses: Cynicism, magic, the supernatural
    7. Likes: Training, relaxing, warm fires, soft furs, weapons
    8. Dislikes: poor planning, surprises
    9. Aside: In the course of Niar Saga, Vixie actually notices Sheya’s good smell.
  11. A character who has a bowl cut = I actually have to take a miss on this one. I have a villain from a one-shot Sailor Moon BESM Adventure I ran in junior high named Nezunite, but I don’t have any notes on him and honestly he wasn’t that developed a character to begin with. Bowl-cuts are officially under-represented in my character roster (and here I thought I had a pretty amazing range and quantity of characters!)
  12. A character who is a bard = Lysander Devonwilde, a human bard from a prestigious family of sword dancers in the world of Niar a generation after the events of Niar Saga. He never had the mastery of sword dance the rest of his family attained, but was quick to master the basics of a range of disciplines and truly excelled at music and story-telling. Ultimately he ran away from home to pursue his own path.
    1. Class: Bard
    2. Pro-nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Human
    4. Orientation: Straight? Possibly bi.
    5. Strengths: Fast learner, Jack of All Trades, music, charisma, empathy
    6. Weaknesses: Struggles to master trades, too modest, low confidence
    7. Likes: Songs, stories, heroes, new experiences, travel
    8. Dislikes: Stagnation, intractability, bullies
  13. A character who is a mermaid = I don’t actually have a name for the character yet, but she is in love with the catgirl pirate-captain, Caitlin Kinnery. Ever since Captain Kinnery rescued her from a fisherman’s net the mermaid has been in love with the captain and pursues the captain across the seas. For her part, Cat Kinnery is very interested in the mermaid’s tears of pearls but doesn’t exactly return the mermaid’s affections. The mermaid is a passionate do-gooder and environmentalist and believes deep down the captain is a good person too.
    1. Class: Activist
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Mermaid
    4. Orientation: Lesbian
    5. Strengths: Stronger than she looks, motivated, observant, agile in water
    6. Weaknesses: Easily frightened or flustered, vulnerable out of water
    7. Likes: Caitlin Kinnery, sunny days, calm seas, pretty shells
    8. Dislikes: Men, loud noises, violence
    9. Aside: Cat N. Kinnery is the protagonist of the story and the mermaid is more of a recurring side character, and has a rival for the captain’s affections in the form of a human male treasure hunter.
  14. A character who looks like spaghetti = Kirby Koosh (I think that was his name), the prince of an alternate dimension accidentally shunted into the human world where he ended up on zany adventures in the company of the goofy Justin the Concurer (yes, that’s how he spells it) and his Heroes-For-Hire (basically a Guardians of the Galaxy level band of misfits). Kirby is bouncy and exuberant and in Earth gravity is practically capable of flight, plus the elasticity of his body makes him nearly impervious to blunt trauma. This is a character based on a Koosh ball I played with as a little kid, so I’m not really going to try and fill out more information on him because frankly I’m pretty proud of the fact that my roster of characters already had one that “looked like spaghetti” at all. The team also included the adorable Squeeze-Me-Mouse and a head in a ball that I think was called The Great Sorcerer.
  15. A character who is inspired by a flower = Dandy, one of a bouquet of petals (flower based fairies) who joins the Seelie Paladin Edmund Garrison on his quest to save the world of Terra. (Edmund being a companion of Horera from Lost Girls’ Society) Dandy and his sister, Rosie, actually accompanied their eldest sister, Lavender, in joining Edmund–but Dandy and Rosie, who are practically joined at the hip, do believe in stopping evil before it can make it back to their home.
    1. Class: Lesser Fey Ally
    2. Pro-nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Petal (fairy)
    4. Orientation: Asexual (as is Rosie, though Lavender is Pansexual)
    5. Strengths: Napping, sleep magic, calm
    6. Weaknesses: Small and physically weak, confrontation, naturally passive
    7. Likes: Sleep, comfort, cuddling
    8. Dislikes: Stress, responsibilities, anger
    9. Aside: as far as specific character origins go, the petals are entirely a result of my building Edmund as a 3.5 Edition D&D paladin and looking for what fey allies he could have in that system. I hadn’t heard of Petals before 3.5 D&D. Also, given the balance of who I actually had pictures of for Twitter, I chose to stick with Dandy as another blonde rather than one of his siblings for another female–a male based on a flower felt more clever anyway.
  16. A character who has funky socks = Nadine Foster from Lost Girls’ Society, a skilled hunter from the post apocalyptic paradise of Eden. Her entire outfit is scavenged and cobbled together with her own special touch, and while her mismatched boots particularly stand out her socks are similarly eccentric.
    1. Class: Archer
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Human
    4. Orientation: Unexplored leaning Straight
    5. Strengths: Keen senses, sharp judgment, agility, confidence, precision
    6. Weaknesses: Wants to impress others, little interpersonal experience, bossy
    7. Likes: Panoramas, her dad, excitement, pushing herself
    8. Dislikes: Negativity, being alone, boredom
  17. A character who never eats vegetables = Marth, the half-dragon Minotaur from my super hero series, Maze Warrior. A strictly carnivorous minion of evil who doesn’t even like ice-cream and never questions his Boss, not even a little bit. Same story as Ethan White and the Rune Knights and has in fact fought Rune Knights in his past and lived to tell of it.
    1. Class: Muscle
    2. Pro-Nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Minotaur (half dragon)
    4. Orientation: Asexual (more interested in eating and fighting)
    5. Strengths: Physically strong and resilient, breathes and resists fire, stubborn
    6. Weaknesses: Simple, impulsive, hot-headed
    7. Likes: Meat, Strength, Fighting, Simplicity
    8. Dislikes: Cold, Thinking, Feeling
    9. Aside: Spoiler Alert = He ends up responsible for his precocious younger half-sister.
  18. A character who always eats vegetables = Zelis Aasiarn, an elven druid and the spiritual leader for her people in the world of Niar. By elven standards she is young, but very wise and ends up the most mature member of the next generation of heroes after Niar Saga–though she often longs for a care-free youth that was denied her growing up in an age of crisis. She is a strict vegetarian, and in fact at times subsists off the energy of the universe, though she has a great love of fruits and vegetables–especially those not native to her southern home region.
    1. Class: Druid
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Elf
    4. Orientation: Pansexual
    5. Strengths: Patience, Wisdom, Empathy, Agility, Nature Magic
    6. Weaknesses: Isolated, lonely, takes too much on herself
    7. Likes: Bird song, sunshine, berries, peace
    8. Dislikes: undeath, contagion, failure
  19. A character who has a gap in their teeth = Afraid I have to take a miss on this one as well, it’s just not something I tend to think about and thus do not have established for most of my characters. The ones who do have their tooth spacing as an established trait do not have gaps. So this could be considered a diversity failure on my part, but I also feel like I have enough characters who could have gaps in their teeth I’m more surprised than troubled by this miss. Also, I almost certainly have characters with missing teeth that I’m just not managing to think of.
  20. A character who wears too much jewelry = My first response is “What is this ‘too much jewelry’ of which you speak?” Honestly, I think a lot of my characters get pretty decked out given the opportunity. Nadine certainly would, and Cat N. Kinnery mentioned in the above mermaid entry certainly has a lot of jewelry and wears a jeweled eye-patch. I’m also pretty sure I have characters with cursed jewelry who personally consider the one-piece “too much”… So while I’m positive I have someone I guess I have to take a miss since I wasn’t able to think of them.
  21. A character who has an embarrassing hobby = Geralda Whitewhisper, an extraordinarily powerful elderly Afflicted Mystic who writes slash-fic and makes puppets of her acquaintances and historical figures. Eccentric, enigmatic and drawn to the player characters in my current campaign of Zensara Studios’ Unity TTRPG.
    1. Class: Mystic
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Afflicted (still sees herself as Human)
    4. Orientation: Pansexual
    5. Strengths: Magical power, intelligence, experience, personal drive
    6. Weaknesses: Overconfident, physically ailing, over extended
    7. Likes: Relaxing in luxury, writing, puppets, winning
    8. Dislikes: Getting dirty, explaining herself, losing
  22. A character who is very old = Nikki Harridan, is very old and a powerful ice sorceress of the evil race. She lived over a century before being cursed into a man-eating wolf for more than a millennium, and has only returned to humanoid form in the last century when the reincarnation of an ancient holy-man broke the curse. Since then she has been reinventing herself and enjoying the changed world. Nikki looks young and is quite vain about her appearance, but little fazes her because of just how much she’s seen.
    1. Class: Sorceress
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: The Evil Race (they have had many names across history and different cultures)
    4. Orientation: Pansexual
    5. Strengths: Ice Magic, experience, endurance, flexibility, ferocity
    6. Weaknesses: Hedonism, isolation, guilt
    7. Likes: Extremes, pleasure, surprises, people, herself
    8. Dislikes: Being alone, killing, shortsightedness, responsibility
    9. Aside: Actually derived from a Shining Force III character, but she’s been through enough iterations I don’t mind calling her mine now. I actually don’t think the character she was based on was particularly old.
  23. A character who is a witch = Orsen Blackthorne is a boy witch with a bear-cub familiar. He comes from a long line of distinguished hedge witches and is the first male to inherit the power in his family’s history–which makes the heirloom garments a bit uncomfortable for him, so he often just wears bear pelts to match his familiar. He has a good heart and is the soul of his adventuring party, a healer and supporter in many senses of the words.
    1. Class: Witch
    2. Pro-nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Human
    4. Orientation: Straight
    5. Strengths: Empathy, Balance, Faith
    6. Weaknesses: Naive, Young, Shy
    7. Likes: Helping people, being useful, magic, his friends
    8. Dislikes: Public Speaking, being a boy, injustice
    9. Aside: One of four characters that turned into a party that turned into a story when I was familiarizing myself with the Pathfinder role-playing system.
  24. A character who has a lot of tattoos = I feel like I should have a selection for these, including members of Cat N. Kinnery’s crew (ah! In fact I’m sure her windcaller does have a lot of tattoos! I could have used him) but the one I was able to come up with I actually haven’t named yet because the story she’s for is still in a fairly rough conceptual stage. But I do call her The Tattooed Lady, the antagonist of the series with an interest in collecting all of the mystic Inks that have mysteriously appeared in the world granting power to those who possess them. Her objective can of course only be accomplished by forcibly taking the Ink from those who possess it, and she is the only character known to have multiple Inks.
    1. Class: Guardian
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Human? Probably.
    4. Orientation: ???
    5. Strengths: Relentless, Powerful, Knowledgable
    6. Weaknesses: Lone Wolf
    7. Likes: Power, Ink
    8. Dislikes: ???
    9. Aside: I have a little more figured out about the protagonists, including the main character who is “the fastest girl in town” with a tramp stamp that turned out to be one of the mystical Inks and grants her super speed.
  25. A character who has a lot of piercings = I’m certain I must have one, though I know I don’t have many, and I’m afraid I just wasn’t able to think of one. Cat N. Kinnery’s crew seems like another place I should have one, or one of my more BDSM inclined characters perhaps… Just not thinking of anyone. So have to take a miss.
  26. A character who has bad taste in fashion = Seriously, I’m sure I have one… So really I think I should have all of these without creating any new characters (a character who looks like spaghetti should have been the hard one, and I was able to think of the koosh ball character!). Almost want to accuse Audrey from Lost Girls’ Society, but she knows she doesn’t have good fashion sense and so compensates by mostly sticking to her school uniform… So, taking yet another miss. Sadly.
  27. A character who has acne = Ben Gravesyte, the son of an infamous galactic villain and the villain’s top minion. He’s got the usual troubles of teenagers, compounded by the fact that his family is living in exile on a planet light-years behind their home galaxy in science and technology and his father’s arch-nemesis retired to the same planet to keep an eye on them. Acne is just another insult to the injury that is his life.
    1. Class: Nerd
    2. Pro-nouns: He/Him
    3. Species: Human
    4. Orientation: Straight?
    5. Strengths: Technology, critical thinking, good memory
    6. Weaknesses: Cynical, physically inactive, low confidence, awkward
    7. Likes: Animation, gaming, fandom, technology
    8. Dislikes: Sunburns, his dad, Earth, himself
    9. Aside: The hero (his dad’s nemesis)’s daughter is actually Ben’s best friend and they bonded over their disillusionment over Earth and nostalgia for their parents’ home galaxy.
  28. A character who loves cheese = Bobbi Jo Cinder, the succubus mechanic. She fled the underworld because she was unwilling to drain the life-force from mortals, and on coming to the mortal plane discovered and fell in love with machines and cheese. Machines allow her to make a living and get by without revealing her demonic nature, and cheese is her comfort food that makes her feel better when she’s down and also useful for suppressing her demonic hunger–which she has, as yet, never given in to.
    1. Class: Mechanic
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Succubus (shh! Don’t tell anyone!)
    4. Orientation: Her hunger is pan, but since she fights it she doesn’t see herself that way
    5. Strengths: Anything mechanical, cute, strong willed, helpful
    6. Weaknesses: Demonic hunger, holy power, distractions
    7. Likes: Machines, cheese, clear winter days, long scenic walks
    8. Dislikes: Evil, malice, conflict, grabby people
    9. Aside: I have big plans for this character, which may never be realized but are fairly likely to appear on this site if they are.
  29. A character who is a paladin = Adora Templesworn, a sacred prostitute of the Goddess of Love. She travels the world bringing love and succor to those in need. Her fulfillment in helping others means she rarely needs to think of herself, as her own needs are often met by meeting the needs of others–although when her own needs are not met she is the last to notice. She is strong and gentle, simple and wise, as well as a shield and inspiration to those she meets.
    1. Class: Paladin
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Half-Elf (half-human)
    4. Orientation: Pansexual
    5. Strengths: Physical strength, endurance, compassion, people, defense, holy power, pleasure
    6. Weaknesses: Over extending herself, too selfless
    7. Likes: Omelets, Mead, Summer
    8. Dislikes: Eating octopus, coffee
    9. Aside: Paladin is my favorite character class, I have so many of them it was incredibly hard picking one. So of course I went with a blonde female because that turned out to be my unconscious theme for this challenge. Though really I picked her because she was my first 5th Edition D&D character and part of the learning curve on 5th Ed resulted in a suboptimal build choice (turns out I could have dumped Strength on a 5th Ed Paladin to buff Dexterity and she would have been more optimized) that has since become too important to the character concept to let go of. She’s embarrassed by her muscled build and lack of flexibility compared to the other sisters of her order. Also, I definitely think that Paladins would make excellent prostitutes because of their disease immunity and abilities to lay on hands and cure diseases. Just need the right patron.
  30. A character who is ready for Halloween! = Definitely going with Mirro of Kerri’s Creatures for this one. She is an ancient entity that appears as a young girl, loves being called a witch, and is fascinated by hands–which she collects. She loves witches, monsters and anything spooky and lives in a tailor-made reflection of Kerri’s haunted house. When Mirro comes to party, every party is Halloween as she finds the spooky and unsettling just too charming to resist. She has in fact been barred from party planning since her gory birthday bash for Kerri’s crush, Oliver, sent the birthday boy fleeing the premises.
    1. Class: Witch? (if you please)
    2. Pro-nouns: She/Her
    3. Species: Old One (they have many names)
    4. Orientation: Fluid
    5. Strengths: Patience, Spatial Manipulation, Raw Power
    6. Weaknesses: Inhumanity, lack of empathy
    7. Likes: Hands, her best friend Kerri, people, monsters, anything strange
    8. Dislikes: Boredom, making obvious mistakes

      Another great pic by Marshintire, this time for the Phoenix Dawn Command game.

Revenant

Update | Posted by davidludwig
Sep 22 2018

I have neglected this site for a LONG time, and for anyone who visited during that time I apologize. I have deleted the comments from during my hiatus, and also apologize for any legitimate comments that got caught in that purge–there was just TOO much to sort through, though I did manage to catch 2 for approval which made me happy. It is once again safe to leave comments and I will be staying on top of those again as during my first years running the site.

Next I need to navigate around the site and see what else needs cleaning up or fixing and further update this post to say I am fully back in business. It will take a while, but once all of that is done I will eventually start posting new content again. Off the top of my head I do recall promising a walk-through for Arel Wars 2 that I’m afraid I am going to have to say is definitively not going to happen at this point.

Mobile Collectible Genre

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 21 2014

[Mobile Mondays were previously My Phone Mondays, but I expanded the term now that most of my mobile gaming is on my iPad tablet]

There are a few prominent genres that currently dominate the landscape of mobile gaming, so with my breadth of experimentation I have some familiarity with several of them. Today I’d like to look at what I call the Mobile Collectible Genre, I’ve also seen it referred to as the Card Battle Genre but given a few use more like figurines than cards and most have terrible battle mechanics I think my label is more informative. Eventually I’ll segue into Square-Enix’s Deadman’s Cross and Guardian Cross games more specifically.

From my perspective the genre sort of started with Rage of Bahamut, previously reviewed on this site, which was for a long time the high point of the genre–which REALLY isn’t saying much. Eventually I swore off the mobile collectible genre entirely because I’d spent enough time in the “good” ones to establish the entire genre was total garbage–though of course that can benefit from the “one man’s trash” principle, and as all free games the overall risk involved in trying them out and forming your own opinion is appropriately low.

Pretty much all of these games boil down to;

  • Spend energy to advance in a single player mode. This energy replenishes over time, but effectively limits the amount of time that can be spent in the game at once. Generally possible to pay real money for immediate energy restoration.
  • Collect cards/figurines/warriors to assemble into a deck/battle-group to use against other players and sometimes the computer. Biggest number wins, and the rarest collectibles have the biggest numbers. The collectibles that aren’t at least rare are virtually worthless, and that’s what you’ll get the most of. Generally possible to pay real money for better odds at getting better cards–which in some cases means the chance to get them at all.

The good apps in the genre (and even those don’t deserve to be called games, because the user basically just watches the app, there isn’t much ‘play’ to speak of) offer amazing artwork that can make them worth the free price of admission if the experience of suffering through the app isn’t too off-putting. And the biggest problem with all of them is that they aren’t games. Collecting is great, lots of people–myself included–love collecting things and the generally high art quality makes the collection fun to enjoy. But it ends up being hollow and without value if there’s nothing to do with that collection–and I personally believe it’ll be easier to get people to continue to invest money if your app has value. As the physical Collectible Card Game, Magic the Gathering, showed and continues to show, a really solid game to play with the collectibles is perfect for ensuring consumer engagement–promoting them from collectors to players.

Eventually I came to the realization that my odds of collecting the art I wanted from these apps were too low to justify the time invested when they so quickly become boring to just sit there and watch–or worse, frustrating to sit and watch when the game decides that you lose instead of win. I swore I’d never play another one again.

My vow of abstinence held up through Square-Enix‘s entry to the field with Guardian Cross–as interested as I was in what such a legendary company might have done with the genre, that interest was not enough to break my vow of ‘never again’. But then came Square-Enix’s second entry in the field, Deadman’s Cross, which caught my attention just enough that I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give the genre another shot–though my expectations remained low.

The very first thing that happens in most of these collectible games is the game asks for the Invite Code of the player who invited you to the game–and whether you were invited or not it’s worth finding and entering a code to get the associated bonus, plus it really helps the person whose code you used. My code for Deadman’s Cross is UFV2RGC should anyone decide to give Deadman’s Cross a try–use it and get to level 5 in the game and you get a limited edition Rare card, and help me toward more limited edition cards of my own, which I really want.

Now, what sets Guardian Cross and Deadman’s Cross apart from the other Mobile Collectible apps is their Hunts. Both allow you to “hunt” for new cards using a sniper scope and rifle, introducing an element of skill to new card acquisition that adds considerable interest to the game and rewards players who develop their skill in that regard.

 

In the case of Guardian Cross the scope pans much more slowly than the player’s own finger movements and monsters easily outrun the blasts from the rifle making it obnoxiously difficult to hit anything–this does set Guardian Cross apart from other mobile collectible games, but unfortunately it sets it far below the rest of the field.
I know I said I didn’t fall for Guardian Cross, but after enjoying Deadman’s Cross I went back and tried Guardian Cross as well. Both are free, so nothing really lost there except for some respect for Square-Enix.

Deadman’s Cross really polished the hunt system though–and in its case the hunt mechanics set it apart and above the rest of the field. The speed you move your finger at is now the speed your scope moves at, and the zombies are not faster than the bullets–though they are generally still faster than your trigger finger. There’s a real sense of reward for skill, and I’ve been very happy overall with the number of cards I’ve been able to get per hunt in Deadman’s Cross.
The only things I’d say need fixing is bullets should consistently come out of the gun when the player taps the Shoot button and the gun’s loaded–because right now the bullets currently come out when you take your finger off of the Shoot button, most of the time. Also, any time the bullet visually passes through a zombie that should count as a hit–even if to balance things out the times the bullet doesn’t visually pass through the zombie never counted as hits.

Now, my initial impression of Deadman’s Cross as the height of the genre and actually worth playing turned out to be a little too rosy. See, I got some very good cards very early in my play experience–and I thought, “Hey, Square-Enix is such an experienced developer, they probably realized purely random drops were bad game design and have a complex algorithm going on here to guarantee the ability of all players to reasonably compete in the game.” The reason I thought that is because most in Mobile Collectible apps what you get from card packs–or however you get new collectibles–is more purely random, and randomness is not my friend. If there’s an element of luck involved in anything I do, I can pretty consistently count on not having any luck myself. Don’t know why, I just have bad luck when luck is given too much weight in the equation.

So, having a couple weeks of good luck in Deadman’s Cross–over two accounts no less–led me to believe it wasn’t really luck and rather clever game design on Square-Enix’s part. The 1 in 100 chance of getting a Legendary card must have been implemented so that after 100 attempts every player would have a Legendary and the random element was which one in the hundred it was–or whatever, the numbers are just to illustrate the concept. Turns out, I actually was having good luck–as improbable as that seems–and Square-Enix had similarly banked on lucking into a decent game rather than putting in the design work to ensure one.
Was very disappointing when my luck returned to zero, and I read the online accounts of others with no luck in Deadman’s Cross. I’d thought Square-Enix could deliver better than that, but even that hefty blow only dropped them even with the rest of the field–which coupled with their hunt mechanic remained a net advantage for Deadman’s Cross.

Now, I’ve got plenty of ideas how the hunt system in Deadman’s Cross could be improved–but given their console record I’m pretty confident that if Square-Enix had wanted to make a game out of Deadman’s Cross they would have done so. A few things like the 60 second time limit seem arbitrary, and the whole thing could use a little more polish–even improved as it is from Guardian Cross. But ultimately the Hunt for new cards is one thing in favor of Deadman’s Cross that I think does put it ahead of the rest of the field–which isn’t saying much, but is worth mentioning.

It doesn’t take long to get to the point in the game where if you’re using anything less than Epic cards (the progression being Common->Uncommon->Rare->Epic->Legendary) then you cannot win against other players–and anything less than Rare will leave you losing to the computer as well. This isn’t any different from other apps in the genre, but is unfortunate because new Commons, Uncommons and Rares continue to become available well after there is no reason (other than their artwork) to want them. Some rarity limited brackets would help players find matches they could compete in according to the cards they actually possessed–and make a lot more sense than the current level limited brackets that have far less bearing on the actual strength of the hordes the player can field, not to mention it would provide an application for getting and developing the lower rarity cards instead of just raging about not being able to find any of the highest rarity cards.

Now, one thing that Square-Enix has continued to do well on the mobile market that I always respected them for on the consoles is write. The writing in Deadman’s Cross is far beyond anything else in the collectible genre, and pretty well positioned for mobile games in general. I really enjoy the story and the characters, and wish I could get the whole thing–unfortunately it seems unlikely Square-Enix will wrap up the major plot-line any time soon, since they still want to milk the in-app purchases for years if they can.
Aside from the interactions with townspeople, Guardian Cross also featured similarly strong writing–though in that case most of the townspeople were painfully badly written, which I can’t explain. Nor can I explain why every single towns-person in Guardian Cross had a stable of Guardians they wanted to pit against the player’s. Deadman’s Cross takes a much more reasonable approach of a lot of people having deadman–aka zombie–hordes, but a lot of people don’t have them too.

Still, both Guardian Cross and Deadman’s Cross offer just a little more in the card to card contests that define the player-versus-player element as well as much of the player-versus-computer experience. The standard for the genre is “Which number is bigger?” Which as you may be able to guess, doesn’t amount to much of a game and doesn’t leave the player with anything to do but watch the computer figure out whether 500 is bigger than 900 or not. Once you’ve got the biggest number (which also happens to be the most rare) card you can, there’s not much else for you to do.
Square-Enix added on to the biggest number contest–though I wish they’d replaced it–so that when the numbers are close there’s actually more the player can do to swing things in their own favor. It falls short of being a matter of skill, the player does still just watch during the actual battles, but adds a few granules more strategy to the deck construction preparation part of the app. But I highly respect Square-Enix’s decision not to include evolutions based on multiple copies of the same card, as that quickly became the most tedious part of the rest of the field–especially as the rarity of the card in question increased. There’s no reason not to strengthen a card you want to strengthen as soon as you are able to do so and while some methods are more efficient than others all can get to the same end point, and that is much more user friendly.

Furthermore, the deadman cards have 3 ability slots that fill as they gain levels–but each deadman has more than 3 abilities they can learn. Choosing which ability to keep and which to lose allows players to customize how their deadmen play and adds a little more strategy to the game. Ultimately it’s still the biggest number comparison, but the accents put on top of that provide some consolation and that’s not nothing.

I really wish I could recommend Deadman’s Cross, because it is in my experience the best Mobile Collectible game on the market, because it’s Square-Enix, and because it would really help me to have 6 more devices use my Invite Code of UFV2RGC and then get to level 5. Unfortunately, my actual recommendation is to stay away from Deadman’s Cross. I’m probably giving up on the game myself if I don’t get those 6 more Invites by April 30–the cutoff for getting the Cleopatra card I would very much like in my collection.

Now, if I could go back and reevaluate the other Mobile Collectible games I’ve rated on this site I’d probably give them much lower marks now that I’ve seen the full ugliness of the genre, but I feel it would be unfair to punish them too severely for my distaste for the genre without giving them more play time for the reevaluation–which I have no intention of doing. So keep that in mind when I say my final rating for Deadman’s Cross is 3 out of 5 stars and it is the best mobile collectible game I’m aware of.

A lot of apps get higher marks from me for being free, because I’m not going to hold a free handout to the same standard as an expensive purchase. That said, be wary of the in-app purchases offered by most free apps and intended to be the developer’s source of profit. I’m in favor of making in-app purchases from free apps that prove themselves, because I want to see good developers succeed, but I’m not nearly as interested in supporting developers’ attempts to bleed their consumers without offering any kind of reasonable return for that capital–not even developers with long histories including good titles like EA Games or Square-Enix.
If you choose to purchase from Deadman’s Cross it’s worth noting that the $13.99 Coin Pack offers the best in-game return for real-world investment–otherwise your best bet is investing in increments of $0.99. But do note that as satisfied as I was with my $13.99 investment at the time, I am coming to regret it as I see the app rapidly dead-ending with my art collection still woefully far from completion.

If you’re willing to help me out, or if a free Square-Enix game with zombies sounds worth checking out even if it isn’t their best work then do try Deadman’s Cross with my invite code of UFV2RGC and get to level 5 to give the app a good go. But I advise stinginess when it comes to spending money on the game, and maybe wait until level 10 to have a better grasp of what the game really offers.

Or if you’re just looking to learn a little more–or find the artwork posted online–there’s always the Deadman’s Cross Wiki as a pretty good repository of the cards from the game with their pictures, statistics and even some more general game information. If you’re already in the game or just looking to go deeper then the Deadman’s Cross Forum seems to be a good place to go for more in depth information and to arrange trades, since the in-game trading feature is very nearly unusable.

 

Finally, I was thinking of mentioning Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in this review–but I think it’s gone on long enough as is, so I’ll save that for another post.