PAX Aus/PAX West 2020 Merch and Shelfie Stacker!

Shelfie Stacker Cover Art

I love PAX. #SorryNotSorry.

Last week, I talked about the upcoming PAX Online. My love of PAX is not something I have ever tried to hide.

There are a bunch of new games coming out that I wish I had time to look into this week. One week to go for weird work weeks!

But this morning the official PAX merch was made available for pre-order. No waiting in line, no queues, and even better – free standard shipping!

Do you need any of this to enjoy PAX? Nope. But it’s still something great, and Rabbit and I may have spent a fair bit today! :p

So no whole in my PAX Bag for 2020 after all! My previous PAX hoodie was starting to get a bit worn, so I thought I would jump in and grab a new one this year.

Instead I grabbed the PAX Varsity jacket. Sure, it will arrive just in time for an Australian summer, but hey – I will be ready for next winter!

PAX Aus Varsity Jacket
Accipitus Domum - roughly translated, "Another Home".
PAX Aus Drawstring 'Cinch' Bags
This style of bag has really grown on me. Huge number of uses, and more comfortable than you think

Another item that I have taken to is the drawstring or ‘cinch’ bags. These things are tough, hold heaps of stuff and are comfortable to wear. When I go on flights (not so much at the moment), now I have one or two of these in my backpack.

Why? I put my Switch and Kindle in one, and things I want to carry around with me in another. They fold up into almost nothing, but let me stow my backpack but quickly have everything for when I am in my seat.

And usually, they are great for stashing items as I walk around the PAX floor!

Am I saying you should go and buy everything in the store? No. Well, Rabbit and I kind of did, but that’s a different story. πŸ˜€

But just like PAX Online, now everybody has a chance to grab a piece of PAX for themselves without having to travel. And I find this really exciting.

Are you going to talk about games again soon?

Yes. Last week, I was going to talk about a new Kickstarter called Shelfie Stacker. Today, I will still talk about it, just in a shortened form.

Shelfie Stacker’s theme is what has attracted me to it. Organising my games collection has been on my to do list for almost 2 years. It hasn’t happened yet.

Why is this important? Because in Shelfie Stacker, that’s exactly what you are doing! Each turn, you draft a ‘delivery’ of games (dice selection) and you need to build up your game shelves.

There are rules, so early planning is rewarded. For example, you cannot put a die with one large game on top of a set of 3 medium sized games. You also can’t put different coloured dice in the same column.

Shelfie Stacker Cover Art
I can't believe it took this long for a game like this to come about

Each round, you select a helper (card) that allows you to utilise their special power. This will let you manipulate the die to change the value, and break rules like being able to stack the ‘wrong’ colour.

You get to choose your 8 helpers from a deck of 10 choices, so again strategy comes into play. Then, it’s up to you to use the best helper at the right time.

This sounds like a potentially deep and heavy game, but Shelfie Stacker looks incredibly light in terms of game weight. This means that experienced gamers and new players have an equal chance of winning, and everyone should have enough ‘game’ to enjoy themselves.

Shelfie Stacker Gameplay
Build the best pattern you can. It's not a new concept, but what a theme!

Are you backing it?

I am indeed. Even with the dependence on colour, I can clearly differentiate between the different coloured dice with my colour blindness. And all of the colours used are displayed on the box, so it’s an easy ‘litmus test’ for similar players to tell if they can play.

It’s also only AUD$56. For the amount of die you get in the game, coupled with some clever components and design, this is a great price I think.

Also, it’s a game designed in New Zealand. It’s nice to see more games coming from this side of the world!

So what do you think? Does Shelfie Stacker tickle your interest? Check out the Kickstarter page for more information!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 22nd, 2020

Animal Crossing - What's up Twinkles

So I knuckled down as much as I could, and I did get some gaming in last week.

Two more weeks is my mantra at the moment. When this goes live, I will be finishing up last week’s work. Tomorrow is going to be putting out IT spot fires.

But that is what is coming. Today is about concentrating on what I played last week. And I had more fun than I expected, hard draining week and all!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam

It has been a few weeks since I played One Deck Dungeon. This fantastic dice chucker is as fun as ever, and everything I talked about in my review still stands.

I jumped back on because I could cheat a little while I was working. I had a few tasks that were periods of focused work, followed by waiting times. What better way to fill in these times than playing a turn-based game?

One Deck Dungeon - I might be in trouble
I lost SO many dice because of this enemy

My Rogue has been completely upgraded, and that little Steam achievement popped. So of course, my brain went into “Oooh. Completion run?” mode.

I am not going to make a concentrated effort to get all of the Steam achievements, but I think I will give it a try. At the very least, it will be fun to build up the rest of my characters!

One Deck Dungeon - Building Up Warrior
Started the road to building up my Warrior

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

Another recent review that has been revisited. And since I have written that review, a lot of updates have come out. I still can’t play in ultrawide, but the issue has been acknowledged, and hopefully, a fix isn’t too far away.

But that was mostly in the ‘niggle’ category for me. The most significant update I appreciate – save game states for solo play. You can now close down a solo game and come back!

I have increased from 3 to 5 players for my games now am familiar with it again. I have also bumped up the difficulty. This has led to my first defeat (by 1 point!), but a couple more games have seen me winning again. Time to bump that difficulty level back up!

Blood Rage - Gathering Forces
Forces congregating around Yggdrasil

I have had a couple of comments that my Blood Rage review was pretty negative. There were things I addressed that were an issue, and at the time I stand by them. They are being fixed quickly though, so that is something I appreciate from developers.

The biggest recommendation I can still give Blood Rage is that I am still playing it (and enjoying it!) regularly. Would I still rather be playing Blood Rage around a table with friends? Of course. But Blood Rage Digital does a great job at scratching that itch when I can’t!

Blood Rage - Never count yourself out until the scores are final
It looks like I have truly lost. But I have 60 more points coming... This tension makes Blood Rage for me

Minesweeper Genius – Switch

So last week, I reviewed a little game called The Card. I obviously played it last week, as I did the review. As all of my thoughts are already in the review, I am not talking about it this week.

What I am talking about this week is another sub $2 purchase called Minesweeper Genius. I quite enjoyed minesweeper back in the earlier Windows days when it came included with the operating system, and this looked like a cute take on it. Plus, it was really, really cheap.

The goal of Minesweeper Genius isn’t just to find where all the mines are through deductive reasoning. You also have to guide your sweeper through the level to a goal.

Minesweeper Genius - Level Select
The level select screen is functional. Not every element needs to be groundbreaking.

This took some adjustment on my part. The game is very minimal in terms of hand-holding through a tutorial. Still, the difficulty spike and adding new mechanics has been pretty good so far. I have cleared about 30 levels and unlocked the first ‘advanced’ stages area. Or I could choose to continue going forward.

I’m not going to rave about Minesweeper Genius, but I am enjoying it far more than I thought I would. The next game should stop me from doing a formal review on it this week.

Minesweeper Genius - Advanced Stages
The same Minesweeper deduction is required, but you apply it differently

The Outer Worlds – Switch

Yes, I made progress! Even though I have already finished this game on Xbox, I am still enjoying discovering new things I either missed or have been added. I suspect more of the former.

Over the weekend I completed Edgewater, the first planet you are let loose upon. I had fun. It was enjoyable. I did a couple of quests I don’t remember/missed in my first run, and slightly muddled another because I did it out of order.

I have only been playing in handheld mode. Have I seen frame rate dips? Yes. Does the texture popping look weird? Sometimes, usually worst when loading a save.

The Outer Worlds - Primal Behemoth
Making the shot that started a lot of enemies running towards me

What I haven’t experienced are mid-game ‘loading circles’ I have seen in other headlines. Nothing has happened more than a typical ‘fallout bug’ to me so far. Portability does mean sacrifices, but as for The Outer Worlds being unplayable on the Switch – so far, I haven’t seen it.

During the week I intend to finish the Groundbreaker. This is going to take some time as it’s from memory the largest quest area. It is also the area with the most random people and such that could stress the hardware.

The Outer Worlds - Loading Screen
I love the style and humour in these loading screens

So all going well, The Outer Worlds review is coming this week.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Oh Tom Nook, you addictive racoon. My plan last week was to potter away, and I have been. Sitting down on the couch with Animal Crossing for 15-20 minutes a day has been a good way to wind down.

However, last week, I made two major mistakes. Firstly, I forgot to sell turnips during the week. Luckily on Friday, the rate jumped a little. So I made a small profit – about 20 bells per turnip.

Then on Sunday, I got a note about stuff littered around my house. I forgot I was storing turnips downstairs and upstairs! So that has set me back financially a little bit. Luckily, I have only picked an area to plant my money trees in terms of modelling Sleep Cove, and even that isn’t final. So I have time to get back to where I was πŸ™‚

Animal Crossing - Poor Snowfolk
Oh Snowboy... We all know weeks like that...

One thing that did make me smile was K.K. Slider this week. I was watching some youTube videos saying that K.K. is based on Kazumi Totaka, a famous Nintendo sound designer. He has a tune that is hidden in many Nintendo offerings, and it is known as Totaka’s Song. So as I could make requests, I tried to see if K.K. would play Totaka’s Song.

And he does! You have to rename it slightly, but it’s there. Not only did I get to see K.K. Slider perform the famous easter egg, but I now have a copy registered to my music collection.

Animal Crossing - Totaka's Song
I don't know if this is still an easter egg or I hit on a song I hadn't bought yet, but it made me happy

What about you?Β  I hope you got some great games in.Β  Or are you looking forward to a new one?Β  Let me know!Β  Shout out onΒ FacebookΒ or @JohnHQLD me onΒ Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

So. PAX Aus 2020 online anybody?

PAX Online

I reserve Wednesday’s for little snippets of things I am looking forward to. And PAX Aus is the one time of year I really look forward to – even more than my birthday!

So yesterday it came to light that PAX Aus 2020 has been formally postponed until 2021. Given the state of the world and everything, it is the right call. Still sad about it, but hey – that’s the world we live in right now.

PAX Aus 2020 Announcement

So, the PAX Aus timer has been removed from the site. That countdown will be reset when the dates for next year are announced. You may have noticed another in it’s place though…

How is that looking forward to something? This is the opposite!

I will miss driving down to Melbourne this year with Rabbit and catching up with people I only get to see once a year. PAX Aus is three days of exhausting goodness, but what a great time it is!

While there might not be a formal PAX Aus this year, there will still be things happening. There have already been new ways of joining up with the PAX community, such as the PAX Aus YouTube channel.

From the sounds of it, there will still be ways to join in with new announcements to be made. Is it the same as being there? No. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still be enjoying everything! And now, even more people can participate!

If that’s not something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

PAX Bag
The PAX Bag of holding gets a break this year

So what is PAX Aus 2020 online?

PAX Aus 2020 Online is something I made up in my head when I got the postponement notification. Given the lack of a physical event, it makes sense that any panels or the like that can be arranged will be online events.

This morning PAX Online was officially announced! With dates from September 12th to the 20th. Yep – EIGHT DAYS OF PAX!!!!!!

Tickets are free – you ust have to be on the internet! Obviously at this early stage there isn’t anything formally announced in terms of panels, competitions, demos and the like. But it’s all there. In a new form sure, but it’s all there!

Merch will still be available as well. I know this is the shallowest part of going to PAX, but I was going to miss my PAX Aus 2020 pin this year. Now I don’t have to – the store will be open next week to preorder items.

PAX Online 2020
This is going to be interesting πŸ™‚

The main PAX draw of meeting new people is also being looked at. Things are being ironed out, but they are offering the experience online. The notice includes creating chat rooms, tournament systems and group finding – so this should be fun!

Something I have been playing with is the creation of a JohnHQLD Discord server. I set one up for my local games group, and I think I have a pretty good handle on how it all works.

Whatever PAX comes up with, this would be a way we could enjoy it together. We might even get more people that can’t make it to PAX – that would be awesome!

What do you think? Would you be interested in chatting with others while events are taking place? I have been toying with the idea for a while, and I think it could work.

The world is full of possibilities.

So while I don’t have any firm grasp of what is happening with PAX Aus 2020 at this stage, there is no reason why the spirit of PAX needs to dwindle. While I might not be able to meet new people at a gaming table, the enjoyment of PAX doesn’t have to be postponed either.

So will PAX be the same this year? No. But there will be a PAX this year! While the team had to make some hard announcements, they are doing everything they can to make PAX Online 2020 as enjoyable as possible.

So what do you think? Are you looking forward to joining in on a ‘virtual’ PAX experience? Would you like a smaller place and group to enjoy some games and panels with people from this community? I think this could be an amazing PAX and I can’t wait for more details to be finalised over the coming weeks.

And imagine how good PAX Aus 2021 will be!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 1st, 2020

Animal Crossing Shooting Star

One full week back at work, and I am back to being overly tired. I didn’t play any PS4 or Xbox this week. But I did get in some digital board gaming – let the gaming challenge counts finally rise!

OK, so it wasn’t a huge dent, but a dent is a dent. Kicking back and playing the AI isn’t as good as playing with my friends, but it was still good to do some board gaming.

Turn-based, take your time, board gaming. I needed it last week, and probably will again this week.

But enough of all that – on to what actually got played!

Istanbul – Steam

I quite enjoy Istanbul, but it can be a brain breaker. This is why I generally prefer Istanbul: The Dice Game. It’s one of those rare times where the dice game captured the feel of the ‘original’ game perfectly.

Early last week, I nabbed the Steam digital version and gave it a go. The tutorial is as good as I can ask for. One of the downsides to Istanbul is there are a few different things to keep track of, and it takes at least a couple of games for everything to click.

Going to see if I can get a game or two in on games night, and see what everyone else thinks of playing it digitally.

Istanbul Board
It's the board game, with everything laid out logically.
Istanbul Caravansary
It is a lot easier to read what the locations do though!

Small World – Android

Well, discounts got me last week. Google Play gave me a $1 credit, and I started having a look to see if there was anything that jumped out at me. Turned out there were two titles.

The first one was an old favourite that I hadn’t played for quite some time – Small World.

I had a couple of games, and I enjoyed it. That said, I can’t recommend people that haven’t already got it run out and buy it. First and foremost, I got the ‘this was written for an older version of Android’ warning as soon as I started it up. That doesn’t bode well for staying on your phone much longer.

Playing it on mobile is a little frustrating when your finger misses a token. Everything is just so small, and my gorilla fingers had trouble moving my tokens.

It did remind me that I do have Small World on Steam though. On a bigger screen, the gameplay will be a lot smoother. And just as fun as the board game, without the micromanagement.

I will have to see if I can use Remote Play Together on it for a games night…

Small World No Support Die
Three sides of this die are blank. You will swear it has 7 blank sides.
Small World You Have How Many Land
It was at this point, I thought this may have been a mistake
Small World Victory
And this is why you never give up trying

Dragon Castle – Steam

I reviewed Dragon Castle last week, so I won’t be talking much about this one. But how could I do a review and not grab at least one screenshot of the game? Oh no, I had to play a game. Such a hard life :p

Today I will talk about how disappointed I was that Dragon Castle doesn’t work with Remote Play Together. Like Tokaido, Dragon Castle is a great game to be playing during a conversation, and I think it would work really well in the remote play format.

I think if people could jump in for a round or two on someone else’s copy, more copies would be sold. Yes, it was on sale for a very low entry point cost, but you had to want to already play to be willing to pay it.

But that’s just my rant. πŸ™‚

Dragon Castle Poor Decisions
I was getting worried. The compute started targeting my dragon tiles.
Dragon Castle Tie Loss
Lost on tie breaker though. Can't be unhappy with that comeback!

When I got an email saying that Imperial Settlers was coming to mobile, I was very excited. I have had my eye on the roll and write version for a while, and a portable solo version could bump Onirim for plays.

I bought it, loaded it up, and played the tutorial. And I have no idea what is going on.

Teaching board games is hard. Anyone that has tried can tell you that. Learning board games is harder, and some manuals do not help with this.

That is where Imperial Settlers: Roll and Write fell down for me. There is a manual you have to read that will hopefully explain enough to understand the tutorial. The tutorial itself was basically ‘pick this, move it’ with little explanation as to what you were trying to achieve.

So now I am going to sit with a few video tutorials and the rule book. This is the only way I believe I can get the full experience. I will come back to this one in a few weeks with a full review.

Imperial Settlers Tutorial
Why do you want crowns? Read the manual to find out!

Blood Rage – Steam

As I wrote last Wednesday, I was looking forward to this. I enjoy Blood Rage, but it’s a hard one to get to the table. Not that it’s a bad game – just one that takes a lot of coordination getting certain types of player together.

I was hoping that the digital version would help me get some plays in, and I believe it will. I have played two games against AI opponents so far, and the ‘easy’ difficulty still gives a challenge.

The biggest challenge was actually my screen. Playing in ultrawide in my first game, I realised that I couldn’t see my army strength. The number was blocked by my cards. This wasn’t a problem in the tutorial, as I didn’t have enough of a hand for it to happen.

Changing the resolution to a standard size 1920×1080, this wasn’t an issue, and I handily won my second game. Both rounds were fun, but this was a bit strange. I will look more into it during the week.

Initial thought though – this could be a lot of fun on the go. Maybe a Switch version?

Blood Rage Cards Blocking
Below my card is supposed to be my army strength
Blod Rage Bad Card To Play
If you don't have cards, it's not a problem. Except I shouldn't have entered this fight!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

It was another week on Sleep Cove. Did some fishing, bought some stuff, started toying with my island setup. Still trying to get it right in my head.

Yesterday I messed up though. I completely forgot that Daisy Mae only sells turnips Sunday MORNING. When did I remember this? When Isabelle proudly informed me it was 12:01.

It’s far from the biggest issue in the world, but it was indicative of most of my week hahaha.

I need about another 100,000 bells to pay off my upstairs room. I think I will spend a night roughly planning out the changes I want to make to my island, and having fun fishing. Now that winter has officially hit my island, hopefully I will find some new fish and bugs to collect as well!

Animal Crossing Shooting Star
I also finally got to see a shooting star! Star fragments acquired, finally crafter a wand πŸ™‚

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition – Switch

RPG’s are my game of choice for when I want to settle down and immerse myself in a world. I don’t have much time for that lately, but it is what I enjoy.

When Xenoblade Chronicles was announced, I was excited. I have a version for my DS, but that hasn’t been pulled out since last PAX. The Switch has basically replaced all of my handheld gaming, except for quick mobile diversions.

One reasonably universal downside to RPG’s is starting them. Fans are nodding, some people are probably confused.

Vast RPG worlds are great when you are in them, but it’s hard to invest in a game that drops you into it completely blind. So you get to do the introduction to the world. This is part story building, and part tutorial.

I am 40 minutes in, and I haven’t gotten to the first town to ‘start’ the game. This is what I mean by ‘starting them’ is a problem.

It looks gorgeous on the Switch, even playing in handheld mode. It might take a week, but I will make it to the village and get my first taste of the game soon.

Figure 3-4 more weeks, and I can start playing it properly!

Xenoblade Chronicles Titans Clash
The bodies of these two huge creatures is the world you will explore
Xenoblade Chronicles Bad Day
No spoilers, but when I watched this happen all I could think was "Justice"

What about you?Β  I hope you got some great games in.Β  Or are you looking forward to a new one?Β  Let me know!Β  Shout out onΒ FacebookΒ or @JohnHQLD me onΒ Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

My Gaming Challenges for 2020

JohnHQLD Logo

I’m going to play so many games this year! That’s the plan anyway πŸ™‚

So I have told you my favourites games for 2019. We looked at what I wish I could have played in 2019. We even went through what I am looking forward to in 2020.

But what about my gaming goals? Bottom line, we play ultimately to enjoy our gaming experiences. So what would setting goals do to help this?

I have seen (and in the past set) goals that have hurt my gaming. I was playing just to hit some abstract number. Playing games should be fun, and if you have to drag yourself to a game, that isn’t great for anyone.

But there is also the trap of “I can do it later”. We all know this one. Busy at work? We make the excuse of playing more later. But once you start going down that hole, it can be hard to come back up. That’s where the challenges help me.

As demonstrated by Last Week’s gaming, sometimes I play a lot of games, other times I hardly play anything. Not playing games isn’t a bad thing, except when that’s what you want to do. We all joke about gaming backlogs and the shelves of shame, but the goals will helpfully put a dent in all this.

All that said, let’s have a look at my gaming goals for 2020 πŸ™‚

Board Game Goals

Late last year, I made a few goals for myself about 1/4 of the way through the year. I came closer than the stats suggest, mainly because I keep forgetting to record plays!

I didn’t make it though. It’s not the end of the world, and I know why. So I am hoping that making my personal challenges ‘public’, this will change this year!

But why am I doing this? It boils down to just wanting to see how much I am sacrificing gaming time through the year.

Goal 1 – Record 100 plays of games that I haven’t recorded before

OK, so this one can be a bit of a cheat. In a perfect world, this would be play 100 new games, but that’s not happening. While I buy a lot of games, 100 new games would almost be all I played. So if there is an old favourite that I hadn’t recorded – it counts.

Recording 100 new games does sound insane. In the future, this count would likely be coming down. But when you think about the games Alpal continuously shows me and events like PAX Aus, it’s not impossible. Coupled with replaying games on games nights that just weren’t recorded, I think I can do it this year.

Goal 2 – Record 250 plays

This works alongside the 100 new titles. Now, I admit this sounds just as crazy, but not really. While not running at the moment, I have a regular games night at home. I also have separate game days with Alpal. Hopefully I will be starting a semi-regular date night games session Rabbit this year. This breaks down to only a few games each week, and that is pretty much what I do anyway.

Failing this last year was because I kept putting off playing games coupled with not recording plays. 2020, I hope to change all this. Partially for a better record for me, and because I am hoping to make my own recording app. That means comparing my test data against a known solid system like BG Stats.

Board Gaming Challenges 2020
Currently I use BG Stats to track my games. It's a great program, but I want to tweak a few things

Goal 3 – Make sure certain games make it to the table

This one is a mixture of finish playing some campaigns, and starting to play others. For all of the campaign games, I am hoping to actually finish the campaigns this year as well. Because these games take a long time, there aren’t many I am picking some, and I want to get into them!

Pandemic Legacy Season 2

I started playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2 over a year ago. We have a long way to go before we finish it! Holidays, Marriage, Work, Health – all of the reasons for delaying the games were there. The four of us couldn’t make our times click. Hopefully this year we can power through with a session every couple of months!

The 7th Continent

I don’t know if I will solo this or not. The 7th Continent has been sitting on my shelf as a “When I can dedicate the time to it” game, and that excuse is wearing thin.

A card-based exploration and expansion adventure, The 7th Continent blew up on Kickstarter a few years ago, and it’s time to finally put it to the test!

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Inc

So a lot of my game night crew are also in my PAX Aus crew. Clank! is one of those push your luck games that became a board gaming hit. I have only played Clank! In! Space! so far, but having a campaign version with the Acquisitions Inc crew? Yes, please!

I am hoping that Clank! Legacy will be the easiest one of these that I can get through this year. A couple of rounds of Clank! on the table, then see who would want to play regularly. What could go wrong with that? :p

Pandemic Legacy Season 2
Just want to get this one finished before Season 3 comes out!
The 7th Continent
I have had this beauty on my shelf of shame for a couple of years πŸ™
Clank Legacy
Who wouldn't want to see how far Jim Darkmagic can push his luck?

Video Games

Yep, I have video games as well. Looking through my backlog, I think I have about 2500 of games I want to get through. My problem here is one of my favourite genres are RPG games, and they can take hundreds of hours to do everything!

As you may have seen with my board game goals, every hour I spend on one sort of game pulls time away from the other. This is a delicate balancing act that we all know about. My video game goals are a bit vaguer because they aren’t something I can schedule in like game nights and stick to.

On game nights, if I am not feeling 100%, I can pull out a more straightforward game and still play. If I am playing something like The Witcher or Breath of the Wild, I can’t just put it down for a couple of months. I have learned that lesson in the past! Hence, there are a bunch of games I have started but not gone back to. Any of these games I need to start again, and then I tend to play something newer instead.

So with all this in mind, my video games goals seem conservative. According to PlayStation year in review, I only played about 160 hours in 2019. While the Switch did stop me from playing on the PS4, it didn’t stop me playing that much. I also started and finished The Outer Worlds on Xbox that I got this year as well.

I know I started and raved about a few games last year. Astral Chain is one such game. It was great, I enjoyed playing it with Rabbit, but I left it too long and away it went. Link’s Awakening met the same fate.

So my goals I am hoping will be realistic, but if I don’t make them – ah well πŸ™‚

2019 PlayStation Year in Review
This used to be more my gaming a month instead of a year. Wow.

Goal 1 – Finish 10 games this year

That’s right – 10 games. Compared to my board game goals, this sounds tiny. But if the last couple of years have taught me anything, it’s that video games are the first form of gaming that I have been cutting out.

Now, finishing games to me means seeing the end credits. I get through the story. There are going to be exceptions – Kingdom Hearts 3 first DLC Re:Mind has just come out, and I will be playing it. It’s Kingdom Hearts 3 media – of course I am. But it’s extra content and bosses, not a new game, so it doesn’t count.

What does count? Games like Resident Evil 3 that I will probably spend the entire weekend finishing. Also, backlog games – Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3 are candidates. But expansion content, no matter how big? Off the list.

Goal 2 – Platinum/Complete 5 games

So here is a bigger one. Finishing a game is one thing – getting through the story and being happy with that.

Getting the Platinum is a PlayStation thing. If you earn all the the Trophies (Xbox Achievements) in a game, you are awarded one additional Trophy – the Platinum. In my mind, if I get all of the Xbox achievements in a game, I still got the Platinum it. I just don’t get an Xbox bonus achievement equivalent.

Completing a game means something completely different. In game, there are usually collectibles and equipment to unlock, and Completing a game (with the capital C) means you got all of them. Searched every area. Opened every chest. Seen every possible ending. These days, you tend to earn the platinum before you Complete a game. These runs for me are reserved for games I truly love and can’t put down.

Final Fantasy XV, my first game finish and Platinum for 2020, is a great example. I have earned the Platinum. But I haven’t completed the game. I started a New Game+ instead of reloading my save, so I haven’t done any of the extra dungeons or got the best weapons. And there are additional chapters as well I haven’t started.

So, Platinum and Complete are different things. But it took me an additional 20ish hours to earn the Platinum for Final Fantasy XV and based on the internet about another 80 hours to ‘complete’ it. I could finish another game or two in that time! Hence, low goals.

Candidates for games to Finish/Platinum/Complete

What games do I want to complete? Well, until you finish a game, it’s tough to say. Why would I want to potentially double the playtime for a game I thought was only OK?

If you look at my anticipated video games for 2020, it’s fair to say these are all candidates. Backlog titles, I have a lot to choose from. A couple of options I have shown below.

Return Of The Obra Dinn
A game that flew under a lot of radars, but from all accounts is right up my alley
The Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt
So here is hundreds of hours of game-play in one game
Sekiro Shadows Die Twice
Not the longest game, but the grind to learn is no harder than huge RPGs

The one thing I am worried about is playing multiple RPGs in a row though. Genre fatigue is a thing, so my next game now that I have ‘done’ Final Fantasy XV won’t be a large open world adventure. Maybe Luigi’s Mansion 3?

But there is a lot that goes into Trophy/Achievement/Completionist runs. More than I am going to go into here. So guess what I am talking about Thursday?

What about your gaming goals? Do you have some for yourself? Let me know in the comments, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter!

Good luck with the Yeti hunt tomorrow!

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Most Anticipated Video Games for 2020

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So many good games coming! What a way to see out a console generation

Getting release windows for upcoming board games is really hard. Video games almost have the opposite problem – there are a huge amount of titles to choose from!

We will still get new announcements during the year, but 2020 is shaping up to be amazing. And none of the next gen PS5 launch exclusives have even been announced yet!

As with all anticipated lists, dates can change. Two games on this list have already been delayed just in the past week! It doesn’t change the fact I want to play them, but it does make the 2020 criteria tricky.

Ah well, with all that said, what can’t I wait to play in 2020?

Number 10 – Outriders

Outriders looks really interesting. It is also being developed by People Can Fly, a development team that has flown under a lot of radars.

What is Outriders? All we really know for sure is that it’s a cooperative shooter for up to 3 players set in a sci-fi apocalypse like future. A lot of the visuals remind me of Stranger Things meets Death Stranding with guns.

People Can Fly have a pretty good shooter pedigree, even if their games didn’t necessarily meet with tremendous success. Bulletstorm comes to mind. It was a solid shooter with great visuals despite some story complaints.

So I am looking at Outriders similar to how I look at Borderlands – I think I will enjoy it. Still, I will enjoy it more if I can find a regular group to play with.

Number 9 – Gods and Monsters

I don’t know a lot about Gods and Monsters, but what I do know has my attention. Being developed by the same team that created Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, my first thought was Breath of the Wild in Greece.

I don’t think I am too far out with this assumption. At least, superficially.

The art style is gorgeous. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a game people tell me I need to play, with a vast open-world with hours of side-quests and story to explore.

I have a lot of games like this on my backlog. Gods and Monsters has made my anticipated list is because it managed to knock Assassin’s Creed Odyssee off my ‘get to it’ games list.

Number 8 – Destroy All Humans! Remake

This is a guilty pleasure choice for me. I have already ordered the collectors edition with the UFO (DNA Collectors edition). Destroy All Humans! is probably not a game for everyone, but I loved playing the original in the PlayStation 2 days.

An open-world adventure game set on late 50’s B movie style earth. The B movie setting works well, as you play an alien named Crypto that is trying to extract DNA from humans to save his race.

The humour is juvenile, the writing is intentionally corny, but it was amusing to relax, kick back and play. I am hoping the remake will be the same πŸ™‚

Number 7 – System Shock

I love the System Shock games. They were my first taste of how a first-person shooter could be engrossing. Looking Glass Studios with System Shock and Thief were masters of this style of game, and for me, it all began with System Shock.

On the odd occasion, I have been known to run through System Shock 2 again. I can’t go back to the original. Not because it’s a bad game, but it hasn’t aged well control-wise. Even the Enhanced Edition couldn’t overcome this problem for me.

So why wouldn’t I be looking forward to an old favourite updated with modern control conventions?

Number 6 – Fairy Tail

I enjoy a lot of different anime. Some I enjoy for the multi-layered storytelling. Others are just mindless fun. Fairy Tail is one of the rare series that contains both depending on the story arc.

Given the success of the various Dragon Ball Z RPG games over the decades, it was surprising that no one had tackled a Fairy Tail game. All the elements are there. An extensive roster of characters to build from. The central guild/hub posting jobs for its members to earn money and experience. An established world with different terrains and conditions to explore.

And in 2020, I am getting my wish. I can form my team and go adventuring to my heart’s content. And as a turn-based battle system, so I can play that little bit longer when I am tired.

My only indecision is a question of which platform. PS4 or Switch? Oh, the choices!

Number 5 – The Last of Us Part 2

The Last of Us is hands down my choice of Game of the Decade. Are there games I enjoy more? Yes. But The Last of Us was a great example of gaming being both for adults and an artform. The storytelling is fantastic, and I don’t mean just the script. The non-verbal storytelling and diverse world and characters beat a lot of film and television writers.

So, of course, I am eagerly awaiting the sequel. But why the middling ranking you may ask? Not all stories need a sequel, in my opinion. I am not saying I don’t think Naughty Dog can do a proper sequel. But The Last of Us was so good, the potential for disappointment is real.

It’s also not a game you sit down and blow off steam with. The Last of Us was an emotional roller coaster that I had to get up and walk away from sometimes. Not because of a hard boss fight or difficult puzzle, but the story punches you hard at times. Well, it did for me at least.

I can’t wait to see what Naughty Dog has done with The Last of Us Part 2. But it’s a game I will need to be in the right frame of mind to sit and play through. This makes the next few games more likely for me to play before this one.

Number 4 – Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2

So, before the buggy Bethesda memes were even possible, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines was the poster child for bug-riddled adventure greatness.

Based on the World of Darkness RPG games from White Wolf, Bloodlines was an ambitious game that almost delivered on all of its promises. At least, once most the game-breaking bugs and glitches were patched out.

Waking up a vampire, picking a different clan didn’t just mean different starting stats, but thoroughly different play styles and story plots as well. Playing as a Nosferatu, for example, means you can only travel by sewer around the city. Your deformed appearance stops you from passing as human, and you must remain hidden at all costs.

Pick a dialogue choice that means an NPC sasses you as a Brujah? You are probably going to kill them in a blind rage.

Before the Witcher, Bloodlines was my open-world adventure RPG of choice. It still holds up well today with all of the patches. But a proper sequel? Yes, please!

Number 3 – Resident Evil 3 Remake

The remake of Resident Evil 2 was mindblowing. Keeping the game ‘Resident Evil’ while updating almost everything was no small feat.

Take that same engine, and do the same for Resident Evil 3? It was a no brainer. And I am not worried about the relatively short gap between releases. The original Resident Evil 2 and 3 came out closely together as well, partially because of the large number of reused assets. The Racoon City Police Departement can be pretty much lifted straight into RE3.

We even have hints of areas that will change playing Resident Evil 2 remake. We can see the aftermath of what we all knew were Nemesis battles, and now we can see them for ourselves.

Capcom has said they are changing even more in 3 than they did in 2, and on the whole, I can’t wait to see what they have done. I am going to miss the pick your path options from the original – apparently, they are out. But after the team did so well with 2, I look forward to seeing what they have replaced those choices with.

Number 2 – Final Fantasy VII Remake

The game that made a lot of people Final Fantasy fans. Three discs of epic adventure told with large amounts (at the time) of video cutscenes.

It was a console defining game for many. Even people that aren’t fans of the game can’t argue against its popularity.

And after cruel teases and years of outcry, we are getting more than we could have dreamed of. Not a remaster – there have been plenty of those. We are getting a from the ground-up remake that is still keeping all of the favourite fan moments.

The entire Final Fantasy VII story is being split into parts, making the remake more of an episodic game than a full release. If Square Enix is keeping their word, this is necessary. The already massive adventure is being expanded upon so much that Midgar is a game in itself.

This will go one of two ways. It will be received with Resident Evil 2 levels of praise, or it will be flamed entirely and is the only instalment we will get. Time will tell.

Number 1 – Cyberpunk 2077

I have been chomping at the bit for this since the initial teaser reveal 7 years ago. I am not the only one.

Already loving what CD Project Red had done with The Witcher series and being a fan of the original RPG, how could I not be? Rewatching the teaser over and over again, I remember yelling happily because of a poster in the window. The cinematic showed nothing gameplay-wise but showed vital pieces of the RPG lore to show they knew what they were making.

Watching the presentation at PAX Aus 2019 had me excited. Yes, it was scripted mainly. Showing specific areas and a couple of builds to show off options, nothing hands-on. But those options were there. You don’t have to tweak a set character to get through the game.

There were genuine playstyle differences in what was shown, with none being better or worse than the other. If you think one style is better, play that way. It doesn’t force stealth players to be shooters, or talkers to be hackers. Each option is viable, so you can play whatever way you think is the most fun.

We have a little longer to wait now. Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed until September. A lot of people have complained (the internet, how surprising). But think of the insane details included in The Witcher 3. If they want more time to do things, they can have it. And I will be waiting to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Honorable Mentions

Video game announcements tend to be made long before board game announcments, so there was a much bigger pool to pick from.

That said, there were four games I struggled to put on this list but just didn’t win out. In no particular order, they are:

Sports Story
Disnintegration
Iron Man VR
Bravely Default 2

Sports Story is the follow up to indie fun rpg Golf Story, which was a lot of fun. Light hearted and simple while remaining engaging, I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Disintigration looks really cool. A mix of RTS and FPS, where humans have been transferred into robots. Think Cayde-6 on a species level. There have been a lot of missteps in these mashups before though, so I am hesitant.

Iron Man VR I hope will live up to the hype, but I am also looking at maybe a 5-6 hour game if I am lucky. Well, based on past VR games – it might surprise me.

The really close one was Bravely Default 2. The Bravely series on the DS was amazing, and I really want to see how a direct sequel plays out. I can’t explain why, but I don’t think we will see it in 2020. I have a feeling it will slip to a 2021 release. But you never know – it could be an ‘available now’ after a future Direct!

What do you think? Is there a game coming in 2020 you think should have been on this list? Let me know in the comments, Twitter @JohnHQLD or on my Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Most Anticipated Board Games for 2020

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The new shiny games I know I want to get this year

Anticipation. It’s a wonderous thing. So many new things to look forward to, including what you don’t know is coming!

But like any time you try to read the future, it’s exciting and scary at the same time. What do I want to play more than anything else? It’s easy when you look back with all the information. Trying to predict what is coming – no so easy.

I have included games that are not only announced but should be in my hands this year. This excludes Kickstarters like the current Return to Dark Tower, as it won’t deliver until next year. As much as I can’t wait to play it, I can’t play it in 2020, so it’s out.

Will my Top 10 look anything like this list? Probably not. But enough about that – let’s get to the list!

Number 10 – Lander

This is a leap of faith addition. Lander is due to come to Kickstarter in March 2020, with no release date yet. It has been sent around to various game stores around the world for playtesting and demos. Not Queensland though – boo! :p

It also looks like a contender for quick manufacturing, so I am taking a chance it will be delivered by the years’ end.

But what is Lander? Think of a mix between Terraforming Mars and Catan, and that should put you in the right frame of mind. Build your area, control your resources, and trade with others trying to do the same.

Different game modes to help learn the game also help a lot. Expect a Kickstarter preview article when the campaign launches later this year.

Lander

Number 9 – Dungeon Drop

Dungeon crawlers are great fun, but they tend to have two things in common. First, a lot of setup and teardown time. Second, they can become multi-hour game sessions where a small mistake can invalidate hours of gameplay.

So what about a small scale dungeon crawler that can be set up, played and packed away in about 30 minutes? That is what Dungeon Drop is promising! Using cubes instead of minis may not be as appealing to some, but it keeps Dungeon Drop small and affordable.

I missed the Kickstarter, but it should be hitting retail later this year, and I will nab a copy then!

Dungeon Drop

Burgle Bros was a fun little adventure that is on my ‘Need to get into my games night’ list. I quite enjoy it, as did a lot of people as its popularity increased over the years. I get most of my plays on my phone, which for this game isn’t as fun as playing with people around a table.

And now, in 2020, the sequel should be coming to me from the successful Kickstarter! Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers isn’t just more Burgle Bros. There are streamlined mechanics and new challenges to overcome.

New rooms, new decisions, new gear even! Expect this to come up a few times once it arrives, even if only in solo mode πŸ™‚

Burgle Bros 2

Number 7 – Kemet: Blood and Sand

This will be much higher in some peoples choices for great games coming in 2020. For me, this might take some convincing to get some game night regulars to try it. So, a little further down my list.

Kemet is basically an area control game. Deploy your and try to keep areas the longest to collect points. One of its biggest draws is the Egyptian theme, which includes summoning monsters to fight with you.

Kemet is excellent, but it had some rules issues. This was addressed very well with a ruleset built with the Board Game Geek community, commonly referred to as Kemet 1.5.

Kemet: Blood and Sand goes even further in addressing these issues, without the limitations of existing components. I can’t wait to see how this goes.

Kemet Blood and Sand

Number 6 – Crypt X

Another Kickstarter that is being delivered this year all going well. Crypt X describes itself as a narrative puzzle. You must use the missing professor’s notes to discover what has become of him.

The game contains 51 puzzles, solved with a mixture of physical and augmented reality. Each solution takes you further down the narrative path, and each problem is not necessarily stand alone.

Think Unlock! or other escape room in a box type games, but with a campaign mode and overarching story. Not 100% accurate, but close enough to explain why I am excited by Crypt X.

I might be playing this on date nights with Rabbit rather than a game night experience, but it should be a heap of fun.

Crypt X

Hostage Negotiator is a game I pick up and put down regularly. It has an app version that works well, even if graphically there could be improvements.

Hostage Negotiator: Career does just what you think it does from the title. It takes the solo gameplay of the original and adds a career mode to the game.

Will this make Hostage Negotiators gameplay better? Probably Not. It should be more of the gameplay I know with some add ons. Hostage Negotiator is already an excellent game. The career mode will just give me a reason to play a few more games more regularly, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Hostage Negotiator Career

Number 4 – Deep Space D-6: Armada

I have spoken a few times about Deep Space D-6, the strangely absorbing space dice worker placement game. I even got around to giving it a review.

One of the things I wished I could do was play this game with others. It’s not that I don’t like solo gaming, it’s just games give me an excuse to catch up with friends. Solo gaming rarely lets me do that.

That is all set to change because the follow-up game Deep Space D-6: Armada is on Kickstarter, and delivers this year! Now I can work with my friends to save the galaxy πŸ™‚

Read my review, check out the Kickstarter (there should still be 2 days left to back it!) and see why I can’t wait for this game.

Deep Space D-6 Armada

I have written about this Australian Werewolf inspired game before. It even made my most anticipated games of 2018 list. Ooops, bit of a time slip there πŸ™‚ I have even had the chance to watch a couple of games while at PAX Aus.

Werewolf and The Resistance were social deduction staples at my game stores game nights. Playing such games is mostly how I formed my more recent circle of friends.

Blood On The Clocktower is more than just a ‘werewolf clone’, and I cannot wait to start hosting games at my game nights soon after it is delivered.

Blood on the Clocktower Box Art

Number 2 – Escape the Dark Sector

So you know I love Escape the Dark Castle. I have reviewed it. Made a podcast episode about it. It even made my Top 10 games of 2019! OK, through a couple of small technicalities, but you can see I love it.

Why wouldn’t I be waiting to move from the castle into space? It’s not just a retheme though, there are some new additions to the gameplay as well.

I am delighted that Themeborne can now refer to the Escape The Dark as a series, and can’t wait to see what else is in store down the line.

Escape the Dark Sector

Number 1 – Cosmic Encounter Duel

This was a by the skin of its teeth contender for this list. It was literally revealed while putting the draft article on the site, requiring a quick re-shuffling of my list!

Cosmic Encounter is excellent and has been loved (and lovingly hated!) for almost 45 years. Various new editions have come out over the years, but the core gameplay has remained largely intact over that time.

One problem with the original game is it isn’t great at two players. So why not take a page from 7 Wonders book and make a two-player version? Hello, Cosmic Encounter Duel.

I know a few people that would play Cosmic Encounter more if there were more players available. Now, if it’s just a pair of us, we can still play it! I will also be able to introduce this as a date night game with Rabbit, who I don’t believe has played Cosmic Encounter.

How can one of my favourite games of all time, coming in a version I can play with just one other person, not be my most anticipated game of 2020?

Cosmic Encounter Duel

What do you think? Is there a game coming in 2020 you think should have been on this list? Let me know in the comments, Twitter @JohnHQLD or on my Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Hello and Welcome Back for 2020!

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I hope you all saw out 2020 safely!

Welcome back!

There have been a lot of changes over the last year, and 2 moves in one year for me hasn’t helped for me personally. If that is my biggest actual gripe about 2019, I actually consider myself pretty lucky!

But the move is all settled, and Rabbit and I are settling into the new place nicely. Work is a thing (isn’t it always?), but this year even that should have some levels of ‘normalcy’ to it.

Not everyone has had it so lucky.

Here in Australia, the bushfires are still rampaging out of control. Personally, we are going OK where I live and work, so I am definitely in the ‘lucky’ group of Australians. Smoke from Australian fires has reached Antarctica and South America, according to the UN. And it will probably get worse still before anything gets better.

World War 3 memes are out in the wild trying to make light of a sensitive situation. The situation between the US and Iran will most likely affect the entire world in one way or another.

And the Iran incidents happening with President Trump’s impeachment progressing makes for an even more “What the?” situation than usual in the States.

And that is just two countries. Most of the world is going through trouble at the moment in some form.

I am not trying to start the year off on a sour note. I don’t want to dwell on it here, but the global political spiral is real. It is something we all have to acknowledge and work together on.

What I am looking forward to doing is continue to talk about a topic I love – gaming. I hope that JohnHQLD.com continues to be a safe place for the people that come here, and I hope that whatever the situation around you that you are as safe as you can be.

So what has been going on over the extended break?

Site wise, not as much as I hoped, but a lot of headway has been made in different areas. I keep talking about projects that I want to do, but time always feels like it is against me.

But this year I have started to make some real progress on some wish lists that I have.

We have a new family member!

Just before I started writing this article, we got a new addition to our household. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have already seen this cutie πŸ™‚

Adopted from the RSPCA as Ash, he hasn’t let us know his proper name yet. Rabbit is partial to Meeple, and Enzo. Enzo because he purrs like a Ferrari πŸ˜€

Totally doting on this little cutie. The boys (Fitz and Harry) are bonding nicely with the new addition, and it is amazing seeing them all together.

Expect to see lots of random pics of this little fella in random game night pics in the future πŸ™‚

Such a fun little cutie πŸ™‚

My Games Library

My games collection. My shining jewel and a shame. Why shame? Because I can’t tell you what’s in it half the time!

I have a broader board game collection than many people. Like any extensive collection, management has been a problem. My goal this year is to address this and stay on top of it.

The new house is allowing me for a great setup though, and can’t wait to finish updating my catalogue.

What has this got to do with the site? Well, I am also working on a couple of apps to help me keep on top of all this! And when they are done, I will be opening them up to the world πŸ™‚

Apps, you say?

The first app will be a prettier way of exporting your Board Game Geek collection. BGG is the number one board game information site, with the best database of game info around. Exporting my collection though always causes me problems. So I am doing something about it πŸ™‚

This will be a work in progress for a while, and I will be looking for user feedback once the first version goes up. All going well, the prototype form of this feature will be ready for March πŸ™‚

The second app will be a library system. That’s right – a run of the mill library system. This won’t be for everyone, but it will help me, and I hope others with extensive collections.

The idea is I can select a game from my collection, and the app will tell me what shelf it’s on. Yep – that’s actually a problem for me. Finding games is such a pain!

Secondly, if someone from my games group wants to borrow a game, the app can keep track of who has it and for how long.

This is a longer-term project for 2020, but if you have been looking for something like this tell me what you would like!

The Lists are back!

So I haven’t made a list since 2018. I hadn’t realised it was so long, and getting my 2019/20 made me realise how handy these can be. Of my best games for 2019, I didn’t realise how many of my choices I hadn’t written a review for!

So for 2019, I have made 6 lists. There are two ‘Best of 2019’ lists for Board Games and Video Games. One list is games I have played, and the other games I wish I had. This should be fun πŸ™‚

The last two lists are games I am looking forward to releasing in 2020. I can’t wait to hear feedback on what you are looking forward to playing!

These will be coming pretty fast so that all of the lists are out before February. Don’t get used to multiple articles a day!

My gaming challenges are going public!

I love playing games. Learning new games keeps me engaged, and playing games is a great way to unwind. Time commitments don’t always allow this, but there is no reason to not shoot for the moon!

If you look at last years numbers, I am pretty sure I got closer to my board game goals than I recorded. If it wasn’t games night or playing with Alpal, I wasn’t too good at recording the game. New year goals!

What does this mean for you? That I can’t say. This is just a bit of fun for me. Hopefully, you will enjoy it as well. Time will tell!

More about the challenges in an upcoming article πŸ˜€

I need to record all of my plays!

Tuesday’s and Thursday’s won’t be as empty – eventually.

My current schedule has been relatively light. Last Week’s Gaming is a summary I work on during the week. Yeti in Wahroonga Village is fun, playing around with Alpal’s Lego world. It changes much more than you realise, and I am always looking forward to seeing her new changes. Friday’s are review days, and I have struggled to keep up with these.

The review schedule has been a time management problem on my part. And I realised when making the lists how much harder I was making this on myself.

So now that I have about 30 reviews ready to write, I have been busy starting to write them. These have been started, but with the move and some much-needed downtime, I am not as ready with them as I wanted to be.

In prepping my challenges, I also had a few ideas on other stand-alone articles. Some I have wanted to write for a while, some are brand new. So during the year, Reviews will start migrating from Fridays only to be twice weekly. That final day will be used for other articles, and I can’t wait to see how they go!

Finally, I am hoping in the future to write a weekly preview or impressions on a Kickstarter project. Sometimes it will be why I am backing them, sometimes it will be why I am not supporting them. But they will become regular tidbits through the year.

So what do you think? Looking forward to some of the changes, or wish I was focusing on something else? Let me know! As always, I want JohnHQLD.com to become a community we all build together. I am really looking forward to 2020, and there are still things I have planned in the background πŸ˜€

Catch you later today, with my Last Week’s Gaming from during the break!

JohnHQLD