We hear from a young age that Maja’s blessing lies in moderation, for the crop that grows too eagerly exhausts the soil that feeds it. I have always thought this turn of phrase to be ill-constructed both in the initial premise and the commonly appended metaphor, as any scholar will tell you that a primary effect of Maja’s blessing is decidedly immoderate growth without any of the purported downsides. What folly that the common wisdom should be so mistaken! And now here I sit, the keeper of a rare flower that would drink me to dust, wondering if the man who first penned that phrase is laughing. Excerpt from the collected letters of Goresje Di Sazhocel Selyta, Royal Archives, Ce Raedhil.
“All right, help me set her down,” Mark grunted, kneeling to lower Jackie from a fireman’s carry. Arjun set her head carefully down on the control room’s dais, one eye on Maja’s luminous form as she watched them with undisguised interest. Gusje joined Jackie on the dais a moment later as Jyte carried her in. It had been about three hours since they discovered the pair unconscious in the Aesvain sanctum’s ruined control room, bleeding from the nose and ears. The latter had stopped, but they had yet to wake up or display any sign of activity besides steady, slow breathing. From there, it didn’t take long to reach a consensus to return through the gate. The malfunctioning tablet made it impossible to continue their sweep of the script on the walls, and Jesse was sure that the strangely dead atmosphere of Tinem Aesvai wasn’t helping the two women with their recovery. The extent of the treatment they could provide on the far side of the gate was giving each one an asolan and hoping for the best. Mark was intent on seeking out other options, however. He stood and turned to Maja, who was looking out the window from her usual spot. “Maja,” Mark called out. “You’ve got an injured Caretaker. Anything you can do about that?” Maja gave him a considering look, then disappeared. She flashed back into being directly beside Gusje’s supine form. Mark flinched back, but managed to temper his response to simply glaring at Maja as she knelt beside Gusje. She extended a hand and held it above Gusje’s forehead, then over her chest. Maja frowned slightly, then tapped lightly on Gusje’s ribs with an expression of distaste. Jesse blinked and took a step back, rubbing a hand over his eyes. Mark turned, looking concerned. “What’s she doing?” he asked. “Something,” Jesse muttered, walking further away. “Not sure. Whatever it is, it’s making me lightheaded.” The group that had come back through the portal had formed a loose circle around the dais, watching Maja as she held her hand to Gusje’s chest. After several quiet seconds she pressed two fingers to Gusje’s asolan and stood. Mark looked down at Gusje, who still lay unmoving. “Is she all right?” he asked, pausing for a moment before rolling his eyes. “Right, because you’d tell me. Forget I asked, just go ahead and take a look at Jackie. I think she’s even worse off.” Maja did not respond, looking away to the windows. “Hey, Sparkles,” Mark said, snapping his fingers. “We’ve got zero time for this shit. Come on, she needs help.” She still offered no response, and Mark’s face darkened. He took a step towards her only to pull up short as Jesse laid a hand on his arm. “What are you going to do?” Jesse asked mildly. “Punch her? She’s not a human, and that’s not a body. She’s restricted in what she can do to help us.” “Bullshit,” Mark spat. “She’s found a way to get around every restriction so far, if she really wants to.” Jesse nodded, looking over at Maja. “She does, but sometimes she needs our help,” he said. He straightened up, clearing his throat. “Maja, Jackie is essential to Gusje’s duties. Helping her would directly benefit your Caretaker.” Maja turned slowly to face them, but did not move from where she stood. “Thought that would do it,” Jesse muttered, darting a glance down at Jackie. “Listen, I know you’re not able to give us much help but this is important. We’d appreciate whatever latitude you can spare.” He looked Maja in the eyes, finding no tell in her expression. “You should know that if Jackie dies because you didn’t help her, Gusje will hear about it when she recovers. I doubt she’ll forgive you. I wouldn’t be surprised if she refused to speak with you altogether.” Her eyes narrowed fractionally, and Jesse felt another wave of lightheadedness. There was a pressure like the sense of impending rainfall, and for a moment he was reminded of his view of Maja as Jes saw her, vast and terrible. Then it passed, and Maja was standing over Jackie. She bent down over her, but did not move to touch her as she had with Gusje. Instead, she held her hand a good distance away from her, delicately probing the space above where Jackie lay. Jesse staggered back to lean against the railing, where he was shortly joined by Mark. “Good speech,” Mark said. The other man frowned when he noticed Jesse’s shaky posture and dampened skin. “You okay? Is her stuff still messing with you?” “I’m fine,” Jesse said, shaking his head. “It’s not that, or not just that. There was a moment right before she went to help Jackie…” He glanced up at Maja, then lowered his gaze. “I don’t think she’s giving us that favor for free.” “Then she can fucking bill us,” Mark growled. Jesse met Mark’s eyes, his face grave. “I’m serious,” he said. “Be careful with her. It’s like you said - if you motivate her strongly enough to get around a restriction, I’m betting she can find a way to make it work. Let’s not piss her off so much she starts getting creative.” Mark nodded, catching Jesse’s tone. “Right,” he said, somewhat taken aback. “Well, I guess it’s probably a good idea to avoid the wrath of Maja if we can help it.” He turned back to look at Jackie. Maja was still moving her hands around several feet from where she lay, as if tracing the boundaries of an object only she could see. They had all become somewhat practiced at watching her eyes for tells since no other part of her face was a reliable guide. Her expression was far from neutral, now, inspecting Jackie with laser focus and an enigmatic tension that set her lips in a hard line. She began moving her hands closer. Her fingers danced in small, precise movements. Jesse frowned. “She looks like she’s having more trouble with Jackie than with Gusje,” he observed. “Almost like she’s picking at a knot, or trying to solve a puzzle.” “Making ‘repairs’, like with the tablet?” Mark suggested, making a face. “I kind of hope not, the idea of someone doing that to someone’s insides is - yeah. I’d have to think twice about it.” “It’s possible, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on,” Jesse said. “See how she’s not touching Jackie, or even getting close to her? It reminds me a lot of what happened when we were in Sjatel, during the storm. A perimeter that pushes away ruud manipulation, like what I can do with the sword.” Mark leaned back against the railing, rubbing his chin with a troubled look. “So you think they’re not just injured,” he said. “They ran into script, maybe even got scripted themselves.” “They were in Tija’s control room,” Jesse pointed out. “Tija was destroyed or deactivated, but partial scripts could still have been able to activate given the right conditions. If they ran into some fragments left over from a being like Tija - who knows what it could have done.” “You think it’s like what happened to you, with the warding stone?” Mark asked. “That maybe they’ve got a little stowaway of their own?” Jesse shook his head. “Doesn’t seem that way so far,” he shrugged. “Not like I’m an expert or anything, but I was never comatose and bleeding. In my case it ramped up slowly, I got little bits and pieces of it as Jes developed. It makes sense, if Maja was trying to get scripts out into the world then she wouldn’t want to incapacitate the people carrying them.” “But that’s not what happened here, they would have died if nobody came to find them. It doesn’t feel like there’s any plan or reason behind it,” he said. “We should consider the possibility that they just ran into something dangerous and got hurt. We know this sort of thing can happen, you saw how many dangerous items they had tucked away in the vault back in Tinem Sjocel. Sjogydhu said that many of the relics left over from before the fall could be dangerous to touch, or even to look at.” He rubbed at his eyes tiredly, looking at the two unconscious women. “We should have been more careful.” “So now what?” Mark asked. “Do we have any other options besides trusting Maja to do her thing?” Jesse looked back at Maja, who was still hovering over Jackie. “I don’t think so,” he said. “She looks like she’s legitimately making an attempt. If she fails, I’m not sure what any of us could do that would work better. She’s the only one that has a chance of understanding what happened to them in the first place, much less fixing it.” Mark grimaced. “I don’t like it,” he muttered. “But I guess that’s where we’re at for now.” Maja continued to work and most of the Aesvain dispersed, although Jyte stayed close-by in the control room rather than taking the path down to the valley. Arjun remained uncharacteristically quiet, hovering over Gusje with Tasja close by his side. She displayed little change despite Maja’s ministrations, not responding in the slightest to their gentle attempts to rouse her. At once, Maja froze. It was eerie to watch her, because when she stopped moving she was completely still - no breath, no blinking, not even her hair moved. Slowly, she began to rotate one of her hands where it hovered above Jackie. A bright spark like an electrical discharge snapped at her fingers, and she instantly blurred halfway across the room, looking fixedly back at the dais. In the same moment Gusje sat bolt upright, her chest heaving with deep, panicked breaths. The others rushed over to her while Mark kept a wary eye shifting between Jackie and Maja. Neither had moved. “Gusje, are you all right?” Arjun asked, ignoring the tense looks being leveled across the room. “Try to breathe slowly, you’re safe now. We’re back at our Sanctum.” Her eyes were wide and bloodshot, filled with fear, but she seemed to latch on to his familiar voice and her breathing slowed somewhat. She focused on the people around her, eyes moving from face to face until they found Jackie’s unconscious form on the dais. Gusje froze, then let out an anguished cry as she scrambled towards Jackie. She knelt down beside her with trembling hands and a hollow expression. Slowly, Arjun lowered himself to the floor as well. “Gusje,” he said. “Can you tell us what happened to you two?” “Tija,” Gusje said, her voice thick and raspy. “We found Tija.” Mark glanced at Jesse, who raised his eyebrow. Jyte rushed over to stand with the rest of them. “You found Tija? Alive?” he asked. Gusje shook her head. “Maybe. Not really,” she said, taking a shuddering breath to steady herself. “She was broken, damaged. Afraid. She thought I was the other Caretaker at first, the one whose body we found. She called him Samo. When she realized he was dead, she-” She blanched, and her face went slack. “She hurt me,” Gusje said. “And then again, when she found out that she had lost her memories of him.” She turned to look up at Mark and Jesse. “She said that her sister was responsible. Eryha. Called her the ‘one who had fallen.’ Said she wanted revenge, that she was going to use me to do it. Twist my body, script my bones - but not to kill Eryha. Just to find a vessel that could, before the scripting tore me apart.” Arjun winced at Gusje’s dull, flat tones. “But she didn’t,” he prompted her. “No,” she breathed. “No, I-” Gusje broke off, her voice cracking. “I begged,” she spat, her face twisting back into an anguished grimace. “I screamed and cried and pleaded with her not to kill me. I told her about the tablet, how it could hold things, things like script. I told her to take it instead of me.” Jyte staggered back, his face blank with shock and disbelief at what he was hearing. Mark gently guided him to sit on the steps away from Gusje, who took no notice of his departure. “But she didn’t know how it worked,” Gusje said hollowly. “I didn’t know how it worked. I told her I would find someone who could help her if she let me go, but she didn’t want to wait. She had already found Jackie, trying to help me.” Gusje looked down at Jackie’s face, her lip trembling. “Tija said she would ask Jackie herself. That’s the last thing I remember. I’m sorry.” She clenched her fists. “This is all my fault.” “You were attacked,” Arjun said gently. “The blame rests on the attacker.” She rounded on him, glaring with reddened eyes. “I rushed in,” she hissed. “Jackie wanted to wait and I ignored her. I should have waited. I shouldn’t have told Tija about the tablet.” Mark eyed his pack, which currently held the tablet. “Not to be insensitive, but do we have to be worried about that?” he asked. “Or about Jackie, for that matter? I’m no expert, but if Tija had a chance to script either of them…” “Based on Maja’s reaction I’d say it’s a definite that Jackie was scripted, but I can’t be sure of the effects,” Jesse said, frowning. “You carried her and you were fine, same with the tablet. She did just shock Maja, though.” He walked over to Mark’s pack and nudged it with his foot, then stepped back and put his hand on the hilt of his sword. A jagged spark leapt from the pack and struck him squarely in the right shoulder, flinging him back several feet and knocking him to the ground. The others leapt up, and Mark rushed over to where Jesse lay sprawled on the control room floor. “Jesse!” he shouted, vaulting off the dais. “You okay?” Jesse raised his hand, palm-out, then gave him a weak thumbs-up. “Ow,” he said shakily. “So, the good news is that I confirmed a theory of mine.” “You dumbass,” Mark breathed, shoulders sagging in relief. “Seriously, try to limit the electrocutions to one a week, that shit can’t be healthy.” He narrowed his eyes. “What theory?” “The tablet is scripted,” Jesse grunted, raising himself to his feet. “So is Jackie. They’re reacting to foreign ruud manipulation. That’s why Maja was keeping her distance. I only got hit when I touched my sword, which boosted my signature and made me a threat.” Mark looked back at the tablet appraisingly. “And it didn’t react at all when I touched it because I’ve got the magical aptitude of a potato. Makes sense.” He raised an eyebrow at Jesse. His shirt was in tatters at the shoulder, and his skin underneath was blistered. “Seems like you got shocked a hell of a lot harder than Maja did, though.” Jesse shrugged, looking sheepish. “Maja’s probably got her ways of dealing with that,” he said. “But also, nothing is free. The energy for the spark has to come from somewhere. With Jackie it probably used her internal energy stores courtesy of the asolan she’s holding - similar to what I do with the sword. I didn’t stop to consider that the tablet has access to a nearly-full charge crystal.” “Great,” Mark said. “I’d suggest removing the crystal, but somehow I don’t think it would take kindly to that either.” Arjun cleared his throat. “Perhaps we should take a moment before going any further,” he suggested. “Gusje is awake, and we can question Maja more directly.” --- It took some time before Gusje was in a fit state to speak with Maja, however. She was distracted, unfocused, her attention constantly wandering back to Jackie. She was reluctant to leave the dais, and Maja seemed similarly reluctant to approach closely. Jesse thought that it might have been caution from her earlier shock making her reluctant to draw close to Jackie, but when Mark carefully moved the pack with the tablet into a disused corner of the room her eyes followed it the whole way. Clearly, the tablet was going to be at least as problematic as whatever had happened to Jackie. Not their priority, however. He walked up beside Gusje, making sure she saw him approach before laying a hand on her shoulder and giving it a supportive squeeze. She gave him a wan smile in return. He found his own smile slow in coming to his lips. Something felt odd where his hand came into contact with her. There was a prickly, uncomfortable sensation that he hadn’t felt prior. Gusje caught his wavering expression. “Is something wrong?” she asked. He shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m not sure. Do you feel okay?” “Mostly,” she replied. “A little tired.” Her face tightened, and her smile faded. “You had a reason for asking.” Jesse hesitated, hearing a brittle note in her voice. “It’s nothing,” he reassured her. “Mark’s right, it’s not healthy for me to get shocked so often. We’ll all feel better after we’ve had a chance to rest.” She looked at him suspiciously, and he gave her shoulder another squeeze. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s go talk to Maja.” They took a couple of steps away from the dais in deference to Maja’s newfound wariness of Jackie before Gusje called out to her, summoning her over. “Maja,” she said, her voice admirably steady. “My friends said that you helped me, and tried to help Jackie.” She managed a slight smile towards the vinesavai. “Thank you for that.” Maja inclined her head, although Jesse noticed that her eyes flickered ever-so-briefly over to where Mark was standing - no doubt failing to hide a smug look. Jesse sighed. “A Caretaker was in need,” Maja replied. Jesse felt Gusje go rigid under his hand, and when he looked down her face had lost some color. “What is it?” he asked, kneeling down beside her. “Something wrong?” She pressed her lips together and shook her head, taking a shaky breath. “The voice is the same,” she said. “I’ll be fine, it’s silly. I know it’s not her.” “Take your time,” Jesse said. “I’m fine,” Gusje replied tersely, straightening up and shrugging Jesse’s hand off of her shoulder. “Maja, what can you tell us about what happened to me?” Maja looked at the dais, then back down at Gusje. “It was a poorly-conceived attempt at biotranscription,” she replied. “Done with little care for the health of the recipient. It was small in scale, however, and simple to counteract.” Gusje bit her lip. “And Jackie?” she asked. Maja looked towards the dais once more. “Larger in scale,” she said. “The transcribed script is attempting to propagate itself. The process is having a deleterious effect on its host, and would only be simple to undo if the host’s welfare was not a priority.” “So removing it would kill her,” Mark stated flatly. “She didn’t say that,” Jesse said, turning to look at him. “Just that it wouldn’t be simple.” He returned his attention to Gusje, who looked as if she was about to break back into tears. “Ask her if she has any suggestions on how to help her.” Gusje did, and Maja took several seconds before responding. When she spoke, it was with deliberate emphasis. “The majority of the transcription appears to be on the right hand and forearm,” she said. “In particular, the right forearm is the location that is contributing most to the disruption of the host’s function. This transcription is robust, but it is unlikely that it is redundant enough to survive a disruption of its medium intact.” Now it was Jesse who felt the blood drain from his face. “Shit,” he muttered, looking back at where Jackie lay on the floor. Mark shot him a questioning look, and he shook his head. “It’s obvious when you think about it,” he said. “The script is on her bones. Maja just told us to break her arm.” “Fuck that,” Mark said. “She can’t just deal with it - however she was going to deal with it before?” Jesse pressed his lips together and looked at Arjun, who was looking rather sickly himself. “She hinted that doing it that way might kill her,” Jesse said. “Breaking her arm probably won’t, especially not if we can use the asolan to help her heal.” Mark paced restlessly for a moment, then hung his head. “You’re sure this is the way to go?” he asked. “Not even a little,” Jesse said. “But you heard Maja. That script is growing in her, like a cancer. We don’t have time to debate better options, and even if it poses a risk I think it stands a good chance of working.” There was a long silence, then Mark looked up at Jesse. “Are you going to do it?” he asked quietly. Jesse looked down at the ground. “I don’t think I should get close to her while her script is active. It might sense me and react.” Mark’s face hardened. “So you expect me to hurt her,” he said. “To save her,” Jesse insisted, his voice rising. “Fuck, do you think I’m happy about this? We asked our expert, she gave us the recommendation. Are we going to ignore her because we don’t like it?” “And maybe some other reasons,” Mark said, shooting a glare at Maja. “Enough, both of you,” Arjun said, his voice uncharacteristically sharp. It echoed through the control room as both men turned to look at him. “Mark, help me get her on the stairs to the dais. Jesse, I think you’re correct - you should stay away.” Mark walked mutely over to help Arjun move Jackie to the stairs, where Arjun positioned her forearm so the middle rested between two risers. “Hold it here,” he said grimly. Mark reached out to take her arm, then looked up at Arjun. “We really doing this, Doc?” he asked. “We can second-guess Maja forever,” Arjun said, “or we can believe her. And if we believe her, it’s this or let Jackie die.” His tone softened, and he leaned closer to Mark. “Taking drastic measures is never easy. Inaction is always easier, and that’s what makes it dangerous.” He stood up. “Hold the arm firmly,” he said. “Rotate it so the wrist is facing me. Make sure both corners are making contact between the wrist and elbow.” Mark did as Arjun asked, although his face was screwed up with frustrated anger. Tears marked the corners of his eyes. “Ready,” he said, holding his arms firm. Gusje forced herself not to look away, balling her fists until her fingernails drew blood. Arjun raised his foot up, then brought it down. There was a sharp snap that echoed through the control room. Jackie’s arm was misshapen, bent in the wrong place. Gusje tasted bile. “She’s moving,” Mark said hoarsely, propping Jackie up on the stairs. Her body twitched and jerked, her uninjured hand clenching spasmodically. “Back off!” Jesse shouted. “It could be the script, don’t touch her!” Mark took a hasty step back as Jackie went rigid and inhaled sharply. Her eyes snapped open, wide and fearful as they darted between the people surrounding her. “Jackie?” Mark asked hesitantly. Jackie opened her mouth and began to scream. --- Arjun - Page 76 Who knew percussive maintenance was so versatile! Now Jackie is as good as new. Right, Jackie? ...well, we’ll get back to her in a bit.
[Guide] A Deep Dive Into The Sleep Mechanism, And How To Stack The Odds In Your Favor
Preface Over a month ago, a guy by the name u/Fueboomer did a series of BV runs with his Troublemaker 1 Ramos, including a 0-damage-taken BV Hall 30 run with Blue as the striker. He was the first person to recognize the potential of sleep, and more importantly he had the guts to invest in an underused 3-star boomer sync pair to test out a yet-to-be-proven strategy. Fast forward to June 30, a higher being named Serena graced us with her presence. Her brokenness not only comes from her AOE sleep and accuracy buff, but also the fact that she's perfectly functional at 1/5. With her help, a skilled player like Fueboomer can clear the entire BV without taking any damage. The Sleep Mechanism Sleep is similar to flinch in many ways:
The affected target cannot queue attack moves for a period of time
If Hypnosis disrupts a queued attack move, the target will immediately queue a trainer buff if it has one
A target that's already asleep cannot be hypnotized.
The middle mon wakes up after its sync move
There is a degree of randomness to the status duration, unless the target has Lessen Sleep 9. We will discuss sleep duration in detail in the next section.
The AI can actually queue its move BEFORE the icon disappears, which means you can't chain sleep by simply watching the icon and waiting. Instead, you need to queue at least one other move and follow with Hypnosis before the target awakes. We'll revisit this topic later in more details.
Knowing the similarities, we must also remember the major differences:
Sleep cannot coexist with other statuses. Burned, paralyzed, poisoned, frozen targets cannot be hypnotized.
Flinched targets CAN be hypnotized but will lose the flinch status.
Hypnosis and Sleep Powder have a success rate of 75%. The rate is increased to 93.75% if you have Troublemaker 1.
Sleep Duration As mentioned above, sleep duration is somewhat random. The only visual signal we have is the sleep status icon. Therefore knowing how to read the icon is the key to success. As we know, the icon blinks when the target is preparing to wake up. Based on my observation, the blinking speed doesn't seem to be a linear function. Rather, it is divided into 3 phases, each with a different speed: Phase 1: "I don't blink! Why are you staring at me!" In this phase the icon doesn’t blink at all. This means the target isn't waking up anytime soon. It's worth mentioning that targets with Lessen Sleep 5 or above
Sometimes the target(s) completely skip this phase.
Even if hypnotized at the same time (i.e. by Serena's AOE hypnosis), different units will still have different (and random) sleep duration. (credit to u/El_Gabbar in the comment section)
Phase 2: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star This is the most important phase. The icon blinks at moderate speed. You need to keep a close eye on it. As u/u/Red1003493649 points out in this post, (and credit to u/zzladerp in the comment section), when no move is queued, the icon will blink exactly 16 times (Video recording: https://youtu.be/gJZoKWMB47w, watch Chandelure from 0:21 to 0:31). The duration of 16 blinks seems to be exactly 10 seconds. However, during a real battle, the duration is extended by certain animations that happened in-between (we will discuss this in detail in a later section.) However, if the target skipped Phase 1 completely, then the duration can become less, and the extent is completely unpredictable. Phase 3: Fast and Furious The icon blinks rapidly. It will blink exactly 5 times, for a duration of roughly a little less than 2 seconds, and then the icon disappears. For demonstration you can scroll to 2:55 of this video - https://youtu.be/jHtffgV1E6g and watch the icon on Gengar. But don't bother, because you don't need to remember anything about this phase. Why? Because the target can actually queue its move at the BEGINNING of this phase, not at the end when the icon disappears. That sounds awful. So what now? So here we are, the third phase is useless, and the second phase can sometimes be unpredictable (if Phase 1 is skipped). If you used to beat yourself up for messing up Hypnosis' timing, now is the time to treat yourself with a delicious cupcake because it wasn't your fault. Dena intentionally made it unpredictable so that we can't abuse this mechanism easily. However, this isn't the end. In fact, there are a number of things we can do to turn the tide in our favor:
Instead of staring at 3 flashing icons and betting which unit would wake up first and queue the next move, we can instead tell the AI who should move next by KO'ing one unit. The next Pokémon to enter the field will 100% be the one to queue the next move, even if another unit wakes up during the field-entering animation. And if you are familiar with AI's action order, you know where this is going - we can KO all the Pokémon on one side, one by one. Then we hypnotize the middle Pokemon again because it's usually hard to KO. And then we proceed to clear the other side. Here's a demo: (https://youtu.be/mrTVx-fA8TE). Alternatively, if say you can't KO the next-in-line Pokemon, you can still attack it and follow up with Hypnosis. Check out this 0-damage-taken Hall 25 run by Fueboomer: https://youtu.be/3lh2ftC4q-4
Take advantage of enemy units' trainer moves. Trainer moves are sort of a double-edge sword - they allow the enemy to reduce sync move countdown while sleeping, which sucks for us, but at the same time the buffs' animations are a blessing. If a unit wakes up during their own animation time, it'd have to wait for the animation to finish before it can queue a move. Poor little thing has to sit there while you move your finger over to the Hypnosis button. Ah, cruel fate!
Intentionally allow the least threatening enemy sync pair to queue moves. For example, in Bewear's stage, Chandelure's Shadow Ball hits a lot harder than the two side mons' attacks. Therefore, you can aggressively chain sleep on Chandelure while ignoring the two side mons. Let them attack so you have time to observe Chandelure and put it to sleep when it wakes up.
Queue Serena's move at the very last second. This is more of an extension to #2 and #3. The idea is to take full advantage of enemy attack/buff's animation time.
Count your moves. Generally speaking, if an enemy just transitioned from Phase 1 to Phase 2, you can still safely queue about at least 2-3 moves. It's not absolute and it depends on how long your move's animation is. As mentioned above, you have 10 seconds + animation time to queue and execute moves. So you can do something like this: Striker attacks -> Striker attacks -> Striker attacks -> Tank queues a move -> Serena queues Hypnosis. This way, even if the target wakes up during your 3rd attack, it'll still be put to sleep before it moves. The risk is that it might also wake up during or right after your Hypnosis, which will break your sleep chain. However, do not attempt this, or at least be more conservative if the target skipped Phase 1 completely.
Use moves and passives such as King's Shield and Endurance to tell the AI that all its struggles are futile.
Extending Sleep Durations (Added on 7/12 based on conversation with u/zzladerp in the comment section) Based on u/zzladerp's findings (see comment section), if the enemy experienced Phase 1, then it's Phase 2 duration can in fact be calculated. The formula is:
10 seconds + total remaining move animation times - (remaining last move animation time * (triggerpassive? + 1)mod 2) Where, total remaining move animation times is the time taken for rest of the move animations after 10 seconds of sleep. In scenario 1 and 2, this is just the remaining last move animation times since only 1 move will finish after the 10 seconds of sleep. remaining last move animation time is the time taken for the rest of the last move animation after 10 seconds of sleep. For scenario 3, since the whole last move is going to be executed after the 10 seconds of sleep, then it’s just last move animation time triggerpassive? is 1 if a passive skill(s) such as MGR, MPR, Recuperation, etc. will activate after the last move and 0 if not.
In other words:
If only one move is queued by player (hence it is also the last move), and it doesn't trigger any passive, then it doesn't extend the sleep duration at all. Duration = 10 seconds
Same conditions as above except the move does trigger a passive, then it extends sleep duration by its remaining move animation time
If more than one move are queued by the player, the total remaining animation time of all moves before the last move will be added to sleep duration. The last move will follow the two principles above
Therefore, in theory, we can maximize Phase 2 duration by queuing 3 moves at the end of the first 10 seconds, and the 3rd move should preferably be able to trigger a passive. This way the target will only wake up after the 3rd move's attack animation finishes. To put it into perspective, say our team is Torkoal/Lucario(with VW MGR)/Delphox, from the moment Phase 2 begins we can:
Let Torkoal or Lucario attack several times, but make sure all animations finish in 9 or 9.5 seconds, and then
Torkoal queues Ember -> Delphox queues Fire Spin -> Lucario queues VW with guaranteed MGR -> (After Ember's animation finishes) Torkoal queues another Ember -> (After Fire Spin animation finishes) Delphox queues Hypnosis
This way when the target wakes up it gets hit by another Ember and then gets hypnotized again. In other words, we can squeeze in 4 additional attacks 4 attacks (Ember, Fire Spin, VW, another Ember) in addition to the ones queued in the first 10 seconds, without breaking the sleep chain. About Lessen Sleep 9 This only happens in LA, and I'll simply quote what u/Parallaxal said in this post:
As it turns out, the secret to chaining sleep vs an enemy with Lessen Sleep 9 is to be patient with re-queuing Hypnosis/Sleep Powder. You have to wait until just before the animation of the move following your sleep attack finishes. In this fight I looked for the shield animation of Entei's Light Screen to give me the signal to queue my next Hypnosis.
About lessen sleep 9 for Entei I used Heat wave -> bullet seed -> hypnosis or Heat Wave -> Hex -> Sleep Powder, and at the end of Heat Wave's animation I could use hypnosis and it works 100% of the time.
About Lessen Sleep 8 (Added on 7/15. Credit to u/Red1003493649. See more details in the comment section) In regards to targets with Lessen Sleep 8, I'll quote what Red1003493649 said in the comment section:
for lessen sleep 8 it is the worst : between 4 and 16 ! The only solution that I found is to use 3 moves and wait the end of the animation of the second move before to use hypnosis, for my Serena's team I use fire spin and heat wave for the two first move so the animation is long enough to sleep at 100%
By now, hopefully these techniques have cheered you up and restored your faith. But before we conclude there's one more thing I'd like to talk about. I call it gaining more by doing nothing: If your team has move gauge issues, you can benefit from waiting when all enemies are asleep. Do this when:
All enemies are still in Phase 1 or just transitioned to Phase 2, and
You're positive that you can OHKO a target (so you can dictate their action order), or
You know exactly when the target will wake up, check out this Sleep Chain Guide by Zinfogel https://youtu.be/MVxfimExXqo, notice at 15:55, he intentionally waits a few seconds for gauge refill before using another Blast Burn.
Some Closing Thoughts: Personally, I think it's a good thing that the sleep mechanism is complicated. Even for skillful players, it presents a challenge that's not easy to overcome. I find it very rewarding when I achieve a perfect run by using various techniques to incrementally increase my odds, and I hope this guide could help you achieve the same. Thank you for reading this big wall of text. It took me a great many hours to put this together, but I owe many of my inspirations to many Reddit posts and YouTube videos, including but not limited to:
GTA Online Casino Inside Track Horse Racing glitch SOLO works for PC (maybe XBOX AND PS4 as well?)
Go to Diamond Casino
Walk up to the cashier and exchange for chips if you don't have any
Go to Inside Track Horse Racing
Click on Place Bet (Single Event)
Check horse odds
Disable internet connection
Bet any amount on any horse and it will say unable to establish connection to rockstar servers
Enable internet connection and bet max on your horse
Repeat until you have enough money
This is reviving the reset horse odds glitch that used to exist before this was patched. Picture guide here: https://imgur.com/gallery/fuGSpfW Instructions are pretty simple. Use any method to disable/enable your internet connection whether it is pulling the plug or using a 3rd party program it is up to you. Just repeat step 5/6/7 until you get your desired odds. Make sure to reenable your internet connection before betting when your horse is favorable. Note: You need to disable your internet when you are about to refresh the race (horse list). Reenable your internet when you have the horse you want to bet on. DO NOT have your internet disconnected for too long or it will kick you from the game. It shouldn't take too long to cycle through the line ups. Just do it quick and use a macro or a script. For example if you see double evens (which is considered the worst lineup) bet any amount on any horse (provided that you have already disabled your internet). Cycle through the list until you find a good lineup and before placing a bet, reenable your internet. DISCLAIMER: I am only posting this as a guide and I bear no responsibility if you lose money betting. This glitch works as is and does not guarantee you a win in any way. You are just pushing the odds into your favor easier. Use this link for how to disable/reenable your internet connection: https://www.reddit.com/gtaglitches/comments/gt3vgm/pcimproved_apartment_glitch_improvement_bette If you don't know which horse to bet use this guide: https://www.reddit.com/gtaonline/comments/ekp8na/gta_online_inside_track_odd_calculato EDIT: Easiest way to block connection is through Windows Defender Firewall. If you are not tech savvy enough I or someone can create a batch file to do this all at once or even an AHK file but here are the steps to do this.
Open Windows Defender Firewall by pressing start menu and typing "Windows Defender Firewall" (without quotes) and it should be the first option.
On the left side click Advanced Settings
On the left side click Outbound Rules
On the right side click New Rule...
Select your GTA5.exe in Steam folder or Epic Games folder
Select Block the Connection
Profile can be all checked
Type in the name such as GTA block
On the right side Enable/Disable the rule to connect/disconnect
Howdy y’all, this was an email that I sent to all my friends that are studying right now/beginning to prepare, so please excuse the language and how personal it is. Some of my friends thought it would be helpful to post on here, and I'm all about sharing the love, so I thought why not. I'm swamped with secondaries right now (I waited until I got my score yesterday to submit them), but I will try to reply to anyones comments ASAP as possible. Greetings friends. After a tumultuous summer I finally got my MCAT score back, and I did well enough that I feel comfortable sharing my MCAT journey and all the resources I used. I got a 525, so I like to think I might have an idea of what I’m talking about and am not full of shit. If you have any questions just let me know, we’re all in this together. I’m gonna try to break this email up by sections, but there’s a chance I might ramble so just deal with it. A couple things to start off with: No one really talks about this but I thought the most important thing is to have a GROWTH MINDSET 😤. No but really, if you wanna do well you need to have confidence in yourself. If you don’t believe that you can get a good score then you probably won’t. Obviously you should set realistic goals and don’t become depressed when you don’t get a 528, but I’ve always thought it was best to aim high. Another thing is that the MCAT isn’t really a test of intelligence, it’s just a test of your work ethic. Before I did any studying I thought I’d be fine since I’ve done well in all my undergraduate classes. NOPE. Even if you have a 4.0, there will be so, so many things you haven’t seen before that you need to learn. I’ve seen a lot of people consign themselves to lower score because they think they’re not as smart as other people. Even if it doesn’t come as easily to you, if you work at it you can do better than you think. On that note, you need to cut the bullshit out of your life and make the MCAT a priority. One thing that really helped free up my time was when I stopped going out 3 days a week. We all love the Wednesday night harp show but know what I love more? Having a stable future. It is sucky, and you won’t have as much time for your friends or relationships. This means you can’t be hanging out with the broskis every other day, you can’t be fucking your ex at 1am, and as mentioned you won’t going to the bars or parties. Yeah it is AIDS, and I’m still salty that I barely hit the bars last semester especially when they are closed for the foreseeable future. However, if you want to do the best you can then need to eliminate distractions. I was lucky enough that I have a great support system, friends, and family to help me through this process. They understood when I couldn’t hang or didn’t text back for a week, and they didn’t get pissed because they knew I had to grind. I have stories of people with friends or significant others that can’t take the lack of contact and it causes problems - I can’t tell you what to do but if that happens to you I would suggest reevaluating who you hang out with and if they have your best goals in mind. Things that are helpful before you even start studying Depending on who you are, there is a chance you are getting this email ahead of time before you even need to worry about the MCAT. In that case congrats on being responsible, but please enjoy your life before this consumes it. Anyway, there are a couple things that I think would be helpful that nobody ever talks about. First and foremost, being able to read quickly is a huge blessing. I have always been a nerd and used to get in trouble for reading during class, so I am lucky in that this wasn’t a huge issue for me. The MCAT is timed and presents a lot of information to process, and if you can read fast that means you can get through the material much quicker, allowing you more time to check on questions that you have flagged. Since you will be making hella flashcards (read below), it will be really helpful if you can type fast. I type all my notes for school so I am fairly proficient (lucky for y’all or there would be no way in hell I would type this novel), however if you are not the best then there are several online typing websites you can use to improve your speed. Since the MCAT is all multiple choice there will be no things that you need to type, but it will save you a tone of time during your review. Finally, this makes sense but try to do your best in your undergrad classes and learn to retain information, not just get the day. If you barely passed orgo the first time you took it then it will take even longer to relearn it for the MCAT. Likewise, even though I got a 4.0 in biochem I didn’t memorize all the pathways, and it was annoying to have to relearn it. If you are in the position, keep these tips in mind and it will save you some time. How I studied (chronologically in general): Tbh I kinda bullshitted my way into MCAT studying for a while, as I didn’t really know anyone else who was studying at the same time. This is one of the things I highly regret, as I feel like I wasted too much time by not having a solid plan. There are services online that will build you a study plan for like $150. I never used them because I can usually self motivate, but if you are one of those people that cannot focus then you might wanna look into it. The first couple months I spent doing content review, which basically means I went through every page of the Kaplan books and took detailed notes. In the end, this was a COLOSSAL waste of time and I highly regret it. Hundreds of hours were put into making notes that I never used again, and those hours would be much better spent doing practice questions or something else. I would still recommend looking over the books because they provide a good basis. However, if I could go back I would probably just skim through them and maybe take light notes. Another thing I will discuss more - you need to be studying using active recall, which for most people means doing practice questions or flashcards. Don’t fall into the trap of reading over notes, thinking “that makes sense,” and then moving on with your life. Studies have shown repeatedly that is simply not the move, it does not work, and it is fake news. No, you’re not better than everyone else and learn better from reading your notes. If you still wanna disagree on this, just delete the email right now and continue to delude yourself. After I did a content review, I couldn’t really tell you what I got done. I have about a 2 to 3 month gap in my memory on how I studied, which is why I suggest using a schedule. I assume I spent most of this time doing practice questions, and I also know that I got through all of UEarth Right around this time is when COVID hit, which really threw a wrench in my plans. I was originally supposed to test on 4/25, but miss rona pushed my test back 2 months to 6/27. I knew that I needed to really get my ass in gear in the last 2 months to get up to my goal (at that time my goal was a 520), so this is when I really started to put the work in. Since my semester had ended, I basically studied everyday, full time. I struggle with waking up in the morning, and although on average I wanted to wake up at 7 everyday I usually got up at 9. I would workout (except when I got lazy which was more often than I’d like to admit), and then make a smoothie and study. My routine usually consisted of doing my Anki review cards in the morning, doing some practice questions, then doing new Anki cards in the afternoon. Something that I struggled with was working at home, and honestly if at all possible do not study in your own house if you can avoid it. I would usually go to the student union or find a nice spot outside, and I was lucky because my roommate moved out and I was able to use his room as an office with my phone in a different room. I would usually try to do a practice test every Wednesday and Sunday, spend the following Thursday and Monday reviewing it, and then spend the other days doing any practice I had left. As I got closer and closer to the test date I was eventually running out of practice questions and had more and more Anki cards, so I would end up just doing hella Anki cards a day. Per Section Tips First off for every section I was kinda surprised with how well I did, a whole lotta luck and everyone’s prayers went into it so excuseeee me if I can’t back up my score. Chemistry/Physics (C/P): This section was a pain in my ass. I had done well in chemistry and physics in class, but at least at MSU you get a cheat sheet for PHY 231/2. The MCAT has no such luxuries, and you will be forced to memorize everything. Everyone stresses on orgo, but if you look at the content breakdown orgo is only 5% of the total content, and if you didn’t feel the need to do that good you could ignore orgo and probably do fine. I noticed that after doing a lot of practices, a lot of the stuff is very repetitive and testing the same things. You need to know your distillations and kinematic equations and how to find the resistance in parallel vs series, but honestly the stuff the section covers isn’t as hard as it seems once you get used to it Critical Analysis of Bullshit aka Reading aka CARS: If C/P is a pain in the ass CARS has been the bane of my existence. “But Paul, how hard can reading be you illiterate fuck? The answer is just there you gotta read it!” Alas, this is not the case. I’ve read all my life, I got perfect scores in ACT and SAT reading, but CARS doesn’t really test your reading ability, it just tests if you can figure out the AAMC’s bullshit logic they use when writing questions. I ended up doing well in this section on the real thing, but honestly it has been one of the hardest things to improve and I can’t really give any huge game changers I used to boost my score. One thing that did help was after each paragraph, I would take a couple seconds to mentally summarize what I just read. Some of the material is insanely boring, and unless you stay engaged it will be hard to retain it and then answer the questions. In addition, you can’t spend time trying to find every answer in the text, as sometimes it will be vaguely implied and you have to ~feel~ it. The official AAMC section banks (discussed below) offer some good practice for this, and I would also recommend signing up for Jack Westin reading passages and doing those. I honestly think CARS is just something you have to practice over time and cross your fingers, do a rain dance, and pray that it will come to you. There is no quick fix and it’s impossible to cram for, so try to just start ASAP Biology/Biochem (B/B): So tbh I have been an intro biology TA for 4 semesters now, meaning I have technically taken the class 5 times and a lot of the basic material is child's play (why you gotta fight with me at cheesecake). First off for the love of god memorize all the amino acids, glycolysis, and the Krebs cycle. You can’t get around it, they will ask questions about it, and it is easy points. Something else that’s important (really applies for the whole exam but) is that learning how everything is interconnected and applying concepts. You can’t really use sheer memorization for this, and a lot of questions I would get right because I was like oh shit this is just like a different concept I learned that I can apply to this. There are many many topics covered in this, so like everything else I would suggest just trying to absorb as much material as you can. Psych/Soc (P/S): Honestly it is a beauty that this section is last because it is the “easiest.” I think that if you are struggling to get your score up, this is probably the easiest section to do it in because it is just memorizing a bunch of terms. Sure you need to rote memorize a lot of stuff, but many questions are just definitions and don’t really test your problem solving that much. I also found that I always finished psych with ample time left, so it gave me time to check on your answers. One thing I’ll warn you about is on the actual test, psych was hard as hell and I felt like it was my worst section by far, while it ended up being my best one. Keep in mind that even though this section is more straightforward than other ones, there will still be some curveballs. Also, process of elimination is essential in this section, as you will often get questions that require you to know 4 different theories - even if one is something you have no clue about, you may be able to eliminate the other options. Actual Test Day and Trusting the Process: Alright first when you take the test (applies to full lengths and every test in general) there are a couple strategies I used that I think helped get my score. First off, when actually taking the test I would usually try to make a quick first pass on it. The MCAT setup lets you flag questions, and if there was a question I had no clue on or one that I guessed on and went back, I would flag it by clicking the flag in the upper right hand corner. This not only allowed me to get through the whole test, but meant that I wouldn’t waste time on hard questions when there were easy questions further in the test. After making my first pass I would then review all the incomplete questions and flagged ones, and if I still had time I would go through the whole test again. More than once I caught a question I hadn’t flagged that I got wrong, so this was helpful. Something else that was helpful was meditating. I don’t think I ever truly meditated, but between sections I would close my eyes and try to focus on my breathing. I know it sounds like some hippie bullshit but it actually works, I think it kinda helps calm you down and stay focused. It is easy to feel like you bombed one section and then let it affect your other sections, but I would try to push this out of my head and think along the lines of “okay even if chemistry sucked you can still do perfect on every other section and kill it.” Something else I wanna discuss is scoring and low yield vs high yield concepts. Low yield and high yield is something that you will hear a lot, and basically refers to content that should be expected to be seen a lot (high yield) and content you may not ever see (low yield). An example of something high yield would be the structure of amnio acids, while something low yield is something like Kuber-Ross end of life stages. Some people only focus on the high yield stuff and ignore the low yield stuff, but personally I think that is a mistake. My philosophy is that you should go into the MCAT feeling like you know everything and are prepared for anything they might throw at you. Obviously you won’t and you will still be confused on some topics, but at least you are more likely to do better. Now if you have limited time that is a different story, but if you are able I would suggest treating everything as high yield. In regards to scoring, something to keep in mind is that it is much much easier to improve at a lower level than at a higher one. The difference between the 515 I scored in March and the 525 I got in June was only a difference of ~15 questions right, and represented hundreds of hours of studying. Tbh, I theoretically could’ve gotten a 528 if I had gotten only 3 more questions right. For that reason (at least in my opinion), it is kind of hard to study for a score past 525, and that entire range (98-100th percentile) is based on your content knowledge and luck. If you are already scoring high you will probably notice the lack of advice and guides online to scoring in that range, as most things are focused on getting you to a 515 (generally most people’s target). Similarly, if you start out at a 490 it is going to be much easier to get to a 500 then from a 500->510, and a 510->520. Just something to keep in mind as you format your plan of attack. As you approach your test day, most advice says to just relax and not do any material, but since I’m the kid that will still be looking at his notes while the test is being passed out in the front of class, I found this hard to do. At the end of the day however, the studying you do the last day and honestly in the last week won’t make that much of a difference. If you have been scoring in the 510 range on all your official FL’s, do not expect that you will suddenly get a 520 on test day. When you take the test, you will go to the Pearson Vue testing center (leave your phone in the car), sign in, get your palm scanned and photo taken, and then be led to the testing room. You will be asked to flip out your pockets, and the proctor (in my case a student) will lead you to the room. Keep in mind that if you want, you can ask the proctor for some disposable earplugs, in addition to the over the ear headphones that are next to your computer. Miraculously, I found that my room was actually pretty quiet, and I had no trouble concentrating. I took the test in the middle of COVID, which means they shortened the test to allow for 3 tests a day in order to fit everybody in. Because of this, the test was a little under 6 hours long instead of the 7+ hours it normally is. I had a smoothie for breakfast and went to the bathroom before, and I chose not to take any of the breaks. If you feel like you need a drink of water or to take a piss, keep in mind that it takes some time to get checked in and out, so really your 10 min break turns into 5. Now after you took the test, do your best not to freak out. Personally I got jimmy johns, then sat in my car and called my dad. I felt confident on FL4 but felt like I bombed the actual test, and all I could focus on were the questions I had likely gotten wrong. This is normal, everyone feels that way, and odds are you didn’t fail. I then spent the next 2 weeks tweaking and reading horror stories of people who did good in practice and then bombed their actual test - for the love of god don’t do this, try not to do something school related, and just relax. It is out of your hands and there is nothing you can do, so don’t worry about it because I bet you did great. How to take a full length (FL): If you do any research online, you will likely see people refer to something called FL’s. These stand for full length tests, and they are released by AMCAS, the company that makes the MCAT. These tests are the best gauge of how well you will do on the MCAT, as I’m pretty sure they are just old MCATS. You should pretend that each FL is the real thing - that means taking it in a quiet environment, no notes, phone away, etc. There are currently 4 AAMC FL’s, which means 4 practice test (representing more than 1000 practice questions) Now, here’s where I go against the thread. The conventional wisdom is to take your full lengths within a month of your actual test, and your test will be ±2 points of the average of your FL’s. However, I was originally supposed to test April 25th, and when it got pushed back to June 27th I had already taken FL1-3. This means I couldn’t take the average, since there were 300+ hours of studying done between FL3 and FL4. Personally, I find I learn a lot from reviewing practice questions, and as such it’s going to be natural to improve on subsequent ones. A lot of people only focus on actually taking the test, but actually reviewing the test is essential, and probably one of the most important things to do when studying for the MCAT. Every question is multiple choice, and therefore has 1 right answer and 3 wrong answers (except the questions like I, I & II, II & III but fuck those questions). This means that when doing any sort of practice, you should not only know why the right answer is right but why the other 3 are wrong. If you can do this for every question, you know your stuff. To test if you’re doing it right, if you were to look through old practices you should be getting almost every question right. If not, you probably need to focus on how you review information. My scores on the full lengths were 514, 515, 513 (rip CARS) and 524. A note on third party practice tests - do NOT trust scores from third party tests, at least not at face value. First of all, the companies have a financial incentive to make them harder. You might notice that companies like Kaplan have a money back guarantee if you don’t do better on the actual test than their practices. To make sure you never claim it, they make their tests way harder than the real thing. For reference, I got 510 on a Kaplan FL and scored 524 on FL4 the next week. Furthermore, the AAMC has a very specific format that you need to get used to, a format not used by other test making companies. This holds especially true in CARS - basically disregard any 3rd party cars test, as it is fake news. Anki I was going to throw this in the section below but I realized that Anki was so instrumental in my success it deserves it’s own separate header. Anki is basically a flashcard app, but it has some features that make it amazing. When you use online flashcards like quizlet, it will basically have your cards in a pile and there is no way of ranking them. With Anki, whenever you look at a card you can rank it by difficulty, and then cards that are easy will go to the back of your pile while difficult ones will stay at the top. That way you can maximize your time. What you should be doing is basically making an Anki card on anything and everything. This includes right and wrong questions, things that you kinda know but not quite, things you see online that you aren’t 100% confident of. If there is a topic that you don’t know well enough to teach to another person, you should make a card for it. This is mentioned below, but in addition to making your own cards I would use a master deck. That is basically a compendium of all the knowledge that will be on the test. They are usually not super in depth, but offer a great way to get a general understanding of stuff. The important thing after making the cards is actually using them, and this is where I dropped the ball. I didn’t really start going through my Anki decks until a little over a month before the MCAT, and since I had accumulated over 6000 cards including the master deck it meant I was doing more than a thousand reviews a day. Anki is made for long term learning not cramming, and I would recommend working on cards simultaneously as you make them. I am not an expert on Anki, but there are a lot of YouTube videos and resources out there that can explain it better than I. I would also recommend downloading the Heatmap add-on to track your progress and to motivate you to keep up with it, as well as the image resizer add on to make it easier to add screenshots. Also something that made studying easier for me was that I would often do my Anki cards while hammocking. Obviously it would be difficult depending on your location/the season, but I love outdoors and it was much better for me to work on a deck outside rather than cramped inside an office. Some of you have requested I send my Anki decks, which I did because once again, we are all in this together. However, I would generally warn against using other peoples flashcards or Anki decks. If we both took the same test there would be questions I thought were easy that you thought were hard, and vice versa. It is gonna be a waste of time, since your study plan should be custom to YOU, nobody else. Seriously though, download Anki and use it. Without Anki I would not have done well. Plz. Other Resources I Used: AAMC Official Material - This includes the full lengths I previously discussed, as well as other section banks with official practice questions. These are very helpful, as they are written by AMCAS and the MCAT is written in a specific way. You will notice as you study more that while questions test certain knowledge, but official questions are written differently than 3rd party ones. Among the AAMC resources are something called Section Banks. These are basically the hardest questions that are likely to show up on the test. Don’t fret when you get half of them wrong, because they’re designed to be hella hard. They are another great resource to study from, because if you can nail the hardest content then everything else will seem easy. UEarth - UEarth can straight up have my children, it is probably one of if not the best resource you can use. Basically UEarth is a paid service that has 1900 practice questions, styled exactly like the MCAT. Questions are broken up by sections (Chem, Physics, Bio, Biochem, Psych, Soc, Reading), and furthermore by subsections (for example Chem could have circuits, magnets, thermo, mirrors, etc). UEarth allows you to make custom practice tests, and you can choose the type of questions you want. The real beauty of UEarth is that they give detailed explanations for every question, including why the wrong answer is wrong. This allows you to figure out why you chose the wrong answer (which as mentioned, is important). I went through UEarth on my first pass over spring break (and made Anki cards for them), and then went back over a month or so later and redid all of the questions I had gotten wrong previously. This was important, because if I still got them wrong it meant that I didn’t learn the subject. Kaplan - Most people purchase a set of books, and the 2 most common are the Princeton Review and Kaplan. They’re basically the same, so flip a coin or whatever. One thing that is nice with Kaplan is you have access to their online services. At the end of each chapter in the book there is a 15 question quiz, and they have all these online when you make an account. They also provide you with 3 free practice tests, which are nice. NextStep Full Lengths - As I’ve mentioned, I learn best when doing practice questions. NextStep is a third party company that sells practice tests and section banks. Even though they are very deflated, they still are great for testing your content knowledge. I got the bundle of 6 tests, and was able to do so when they had a sale. Depending on how long you are studying for, I would definitely use NS tests if you can. JackWestin CARS practice - JackWestin is apparently just a dude that is good at reading. CARS is one of the hardest sections on the MCAT, and he has a free email service where you sign up and they send you one passage a day. I would recommend doing that literally after you’re done reading the novel I’m writing right now, and then actually do it. I had like a 3 month period where I would just delete the emails every day, and that is stupid. If you do one passage a day you’ll spend only ~10 minutes, but you’ll be doing the equivalent of an entire CARS practice every week. MileDown Anki Deck - Legend has it that Mr. Miledown was an extremely gracious person sho spent his gap year making a comprehensive review of all the MCAT material. The Miledown deck is an Anki deck of a few thousand flashcards that encompass all of the knowledge that should be on the MCAT. Theoretically, if you go through the entire deck and learn everything then you will know everything that will be on the MCAT. It can be downloaded from reddit if you google it. There are several other master decks (the other one I know of is Jack Sparrow), I only used the MileDown one and I was fine but do some digging. Reddit - this was also instrumental for my MCAT success. I was never big into reddit, but I made an account specifically when preparing. There is an MCAT subreddit with an absolute wealth of knowledge. If you have a question, I can almost guarantee that someone has asked it before. There are tons of people that are apparently altruistic af, and will take time out of their day to give detailed answers. Reddit is also huge when reviewing your FL’s. If you have a tricky question google “reddit MCAT FL# C/P #” and there will probably be multiple threads with different explanations. Reddit also has some funny memes and people will post very helpful tips or study sheets. There’s also lots of posts like what I’m writing now, where people will outline their study strategy and give tips. I think one of the reasons people do so bad on the MCAT (after all 50% of people score below a 500) is simply because they are not aware of what is out there. Stuff attached to this email - I attached some of my favorite resources that I used when preparing. Highlights include the Khan Academy document and The Miledown Overall Review pdf. Some of the website links are to very specific topics, but ones that I struggled with and found helpful. It’s helpful, and ctrl f is your friend. I also attached my Anki decks. What I Wish I Did Differently: I obviously got a great score, however there were several things that I would have changed. As mentioned, I wasted a lot of time on my content review. Unless you are actively recalling the content, there is very little you will learn from reading and taking notes. I could have easily shaved a couple hundred hours off my study time if I kept this in mind. If I had an actual schedule to follow, I would definitely have been more efficient - some people find that it helps to have a study buddy to keep each other accountable. In addition, I should have been more diligent at following a routine and waking up early. Especially in summer with my test 2 months away, it was really easy to sleep in until 10. I would try to remind myself that if I woke up 3 hours earlier, that means I can finish 3 hours earlier. In the same vein, it is important to set boundaries while you study and try to enjoy your life. I would often try to “study” until 10 at night, which usually consisted of me going on my phone while my laptop was open with flashcards. This is just stupid, either you are studying or not; you can’t halfass it. Miscellaneous You might have noticed that I didn’t do any sort of standardized program. It may work for some, but personally I find that when you’re being taught with everyone else, it is very easy to either get ahead and be wasting your time or fall behind and struggle. I am also poor. Many people like private tutoring, however that is also extremely expensive and many times it is easier to find the answer yourself. In a similar thread, you need to keep in mind that MCAT companies are for profit companies. This is where my cynicism will show through - the primary goal of these companies is to maximize profit, not get you the best score. Of course they want you to do well so they will look good, and I’m sure individual teachers do care, however as a whole they are trying to sell you something. As part of my Kaplan book set I was able to have a 30min call to help plan for studying. When I asked her about other resources like UEarth and Nextstep, it was evident that she was basically told by her boss not to endorse anyone but Kaplan, so she steered me back towards their own products. They are not praying on your downfall, but just keep that in mind when you get advice from someone. Also if you can’t tell already, the MCAT is hella expensive. Including the fee for taking the test, I spent around $1100 throughout the whole process. I was lucky to be in a position where I was able to work over the semester to save up, but it is something to think about. Something that also really helped me was an app called Forest. It is an app that will grow mini virtual trees when you don’t use your phone for a given amount of time. Growing trees gets you coins, which you can use to unlock more trees and even use to get the company to plant real trees. It sounds cheesy, but it was really helpful for me and helped me stay off my phone. A note on mental health: The MCAT is a real bitch, and I knew of lots of people that I either knew personally or saw online that had their mental health really affected. I am lucky enough to not suffer from high anxiety or other disorders, but given how stressful it was for me I can’t imagine dealing with it on top of other shit. At the end of the day, the MCAT is just another standardized test and the score doesn’t define who you are. At worst you would have to retake it, and even if you have to take a gap year it is not the end of the world. Ik you might think it is easy for me to say since I got a good score, but even after I got the score in the back of my mind I was like hmm well if I had gotten XYZ right maybe I would’ve done even better. Unless you’re a genius you probably won’t get a 528, and that is okay. Do the best you can, remind yourself that med school admissions are holistic, and at the end of the day remember to take time for self care. Alright folks that’s a wrap. I think I included most of my thoughts, but I’m sure I forgot a few things. Let me know if you have any other questions, you can reply to this email or just text me. Feel free to send this to your friends, I really don’t care and I want everyone to do as best they can on the MCAT. We are all smart and capable and we will all get into medical school and be doctors someday. I believe in you. Everything you need to know in science: https://jackwestin.com/resources/mcat-content/aamc-mcat-science-outline Electrostatic Equations: https://www.reddit.com/Mcat/comments/ha9rff/tips_for_understanding_electrostatics_instead_of/ Understanding linear to chair conformations of sugars: https://www.organicchemistrytutor.com/converting-between-fischer-haworth-and-chair-forms-of-carbohydrates/ Converting 3rd party FL scores to actual ones: http://joel.vg/converting-3rd-party-mcat-scores-to-actual-scores/ Memorizing Erikson stages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BcwntGAB34 Link to MileDown MCAT Overall Review (too large to attach): https://www.reddit.com/MCAT2/comments/96hwed/umiledown_s_god_tier_review_sheets/
🏆 1st Place In DoR 13: Lineup Explanations, Tournament Report, And My Philosophy In LoR
Hello, Agigas Here! I'm a master player since beta, with several #4 peak, and TSM/Blitz.gg LoR consultant. I write deck guides on Reddit but today I'm trying something quite different! I came out of this weekend as the NA Duels of Runeterra 13 winner, making me one of the 2 players to have won both EU and NA DoR, with freshlobster. I think it might be interesting to share some insight about my lineup, talk about how my tournament went, and share my philosophy when it comes to LoR! 😃 For those who've never heard of it, Duels of Runeterra is a free tournament organized by the community since the beta, with a cash prize! With a 500$ prize pool shared across regions every 2 weeks, it's the biggest open tournament to my knowledge. You have to register 3 decks with no shared region. The format is 8/9 swiss rounds in BO3 conquest with 1 ban before each match (you bring 3 decks, before a match you see your opponent's decks and ban one of them. The first player to get a win with both his decks wins the match). You play all the rounds of swiss but 2 on Saturday, and the rest on Sunday. At the end of swiss if you're in the 16 most successful players you get into the top cut, and the format becomes BO5 conquest single-elimination (no ban), using the same decks you used in the swiss rounds. Now that everything is explained, let's dive into it! 😄
For this tournament, the time to prepare a lineup was short and the meta was wild because of the patch note 1.6. I quickly figured out that, unless you have a very specific plan in mind, you had to bring Ashe Noxus. All the other Tier 1 decks got nerf in 1.6 and Ashe's bad matchups, burn and elusive, pretty much disappeared. With such little time to prepare, I decided to focus mainly on Ashe lineups. My version of Ashe Noxus. From that point, 2 lineups really stood out for me:
Ashe Noxus + Spooky Karma + Demacia variant.
Ashe Noxus + Ezreal/Karma + Demacia variant.
At first, the one playing Ezreal/Karma looked better to me for a tournament set up. The reason is that Spooky Karma is really bad against Ezreal/Karma, and I expected the second lineup to be quite popular. In both lineups, the Demacia deck will be weak to Ashe so I'm quite weak to Ashe Noxus + Ezreal Karma lineups. However, I decided to go against my assumption and register the Spooky Karma lineup for a few reasons:
Because Ashe Noxus + Ezreal/Karma was likely to be popular, I expected some players to target Ezreal/Karma with triple aggro lineups.
The Spooky Karma lineup is very coherent because all 3 decks are quite good against aggro, especially versus Demacia if I tune my own Demacia deck for the mirror. This allows me to target anyone with an aggro deck in his lineup.
While I'm very comfortable with Karma/Ezreal, Spooky Karma has been my go-to deck for both ladder and tournaments for a very long time, a legit love story. 💗
I'm currently writing a new Reddit guide for Spooky Karma so I wanted to get some more practice with it against good players.
My version of Spooky Karma, in-depth guide coming soon! Finally, I had to choose what Demacia I was going to bring. I wanted to have something that goes a little bigger than scout and with good tech cards for this matchup, but also fast enough to be able to beatdown slow decks. So I built my version of Scout to match my expectations, "Big Scout". It is basically an MF/Quinn Bannerman Scout deck with a good top curve (Cithria The Bold, Genevieve Elmheart, Back to Back) to be able to go bigger, and 2 Riposte to give me an edge against opponent's Genevieve or Cithria. I also avoided playing Bilgewater cards other than Miss Fortune because I'm not good with allegiance proc. 😂 My version of \"Big Scout\". Decklist for Spooky Karma, Big Scout, Ashe Noxus.
The first thing to notice is that, while this is a report about NA DoR, I'm an EU player. I also played in the EU DoR 13 this very same weekend, doing the big marathon. It basically means that I started playing Saturday at 1 PM until Sunday at 3 AM, with only a 1-hour break at 7 PM to eat between both tournaments, and started playing again Sunday at 1 PM until Monday at 4 AM! (EU time). The first day: I ended up the first day of the EU tournament with a 4-2 scoreline, which is good but not great. All players in 6-2 or better at the end of swiss were going to make it to top cut, and only a few 5-3 players. So to make EU top 16 cut, I needed to go 2-0 on the second day. At this point, I was debating to either get some rest or go on my NA smurf to give the NA tournament a shot too. What made me make the best decision in my weekend, is my love for Spooky Karma. I just wanted to get some practice with my Spooky Karma. I quickly picked up 3 wins in NA, then took my only loss of the tournament as my 4th game, and proceed to win my 2 other matches. I was supposed to play the 7th round of swiss but my opponent "g0blin" agreed to play it on Sunday, before the NA day 2 action. He had no interest to do it and it helped me a lot getting some sleep so I wanna give a big shout out to him! 😃 Overall my opponents banned either Ashe Noxus or Spooky Karma. The second day (swiss): Unfortunately, I have a very strict biological clock that always wakes me up at 7 AM, so I only got 3 hours of sleep. 😨 The bright side is that the excitement for the tournament (and a lot of tea) kept me awake alive the whole time. I didn't manage to make the top cut in EU as I finished swiss in 5-3 with bad tiebreakers. I was pretty upset at this point, but I was still confident in my decks and hyped about having a second shot to make it further in NA. I started the NA tournament with a win, then got up-paired against the only 7-0 player, "Annie Desu". Sometimes players in 7-0 don't play the following rounds of swiss because they already secured top cut so they go get some rest, but he wanted to play to keep his undefeated record and have some fun rather than rest. In the end, I managed to still get the win and secure my top cut spot as I was already 7-1! 😄 I also won my last round and got through the swiss as 3rd place with an 8-1 record. The top cut: Top 16: vs Szychu (Yasuo Swain + Ezreal Twisted Fate + Anivia zombies), 3-1. This is the only match I can clearly remember me doing a real misplay, as I forgot to play a unit on turn 3 as Big Scout vs Anivia zombies! 🙃 It didn't change the game a lot because I had not much to do on turn 5 so I could play the unit I forgot earlier "for free" but I missed 2 face damages for no reason. Spooky Karma got the first win against Yasuo Swain Despite Leviathan being a very annoying card. I lost the second game but I don't remember the matchup. Then, both Scout and Ashe won against Anivia zombies, beatdown style. Quarter-finals: vs Nunuyz (Demacia Elusive + Discard aggro + MF Sejuani), 3-2. I started with Spooky Karma vs MF/Sejuani. Spooky Karma is usually favored against aggro decks but this matchup isn't that easy because MF/Sejuani is quite inconsistent in my opinion, so when it does have a good draw it's hard to stop them. I lost the first game. Then Spooky Karma got the win in a very close and tense game against Discard aggro. I lost 3rd game as Ashe vs Discard aggro, bringing him to match point. I thought my run was going to stop here but Ashe AND Scout have good matchups against his Demacia Elusive version, allowing me to come back and win both games to win the match! Semi-finals: vs Annie Desu (Noxus allegiance splashing Vi + Elise Kalista Endure + Zed Garen Bannerman), 3-0. The rematch from round 8, without a ban this time! I started with spooky Karma as he banned it the first time we faced, and he started with Noxus allegiance. My decks all have a good matchup against this deck, and I won this game pretty convincingly. Then he kept queuing Noxus allegiance again and again and lost 3-0. I'm not sure why he kept queuing with his weakest deck. In my opinion, he should have changed decks to Endure to get a win and switch the momentum. Finals: vs Cephalopod (Ezreal Twisted Fate + Spooky Lux + Ashe Noxus). This game was cast by the tournament's stream so if you want to see it you can check the VOD! Start at 05:48. I wrote the games resume in spoilers so you're not spoiled if you wanted to check on the VOD. I lost a first long game as Spooky Karma vs Ezreal TF because of Ezreal killing me at burst speed. The second game my Spooky Karma got to express its true potential on stream and got the win against Spooky Lux. Then I queued my Big Scout into Spooky Lux and went wild quite fast to get the beatdown win. He then changed to Ashe, bringing us to an Ashe Noxus mirror. He played a lot of creatures that cannot block so I started putting a bit of pressure for a quick win that gave me the final win! 3-1.
My Philosophy In Legends Of Runeterra:
Play Chess, Not Poker.
I gotta admit I don't know anything about Poker but you get the idea! 😅 Don't take the risky bet, don't be like "he only has 1 Deny in his deck, what are the odds". 🙄 You should try to guess what cards your opponent has in hands from the way he plays, not from the number of cards left in his deck. Sure you sometimes HAVE to take risks, but you should not take them when you do have the choice. I like a lot the comparison with chess because like a chess player you should ALWAYS be ahead of the play. One of the things that define the quality of a chess player is "How many moves can you see ahead?". It is EXACTLY the same in LoR. The more you train this skill, the further you'll be able to see the possible outcomes of a play. I think like in chess this skill is a mix of thinking and pattern-recognition.
Don't Pressure Yourself.
If you play to win and don't really care about the current game outside of getting the W, you're doing it wrong. You'll easily tilt, rush plays, and you'll put pressure on yourself. Of course, there is nothing wrong about wanting to win, having goals. But your main focus should always be to improve. If you improve, you'll get the wins and succeed in your goals anyway. For example, I won this tournament when I just wanted to practice my Spooky Karma deck. I was tryharding for sure, but I wasn't just looking to win: I was looking to get better at the game. On the other side, I remember wanting to get my NA smurf to master before publishing my Ezreal/Draven guide, in order to have a better accomplishment with it. I was in a hurry because the patch was coming soon, so I put pressure on myself: my win rate dropped and in the end, I didn't enjoy the smurf climb anymore. I stopped doing this and published the guide while still being Diamond 2. Once I didn't have any pressure left, I got straight up to master without a loss. In the same vein, it's okay to be a bit tilted after a loss, but always take a step back after you calmed down and think about where things went wrong. A loss is often more valuable than a win.
You won't get anywhere by rushing your plays and not questioning yourself. If you have to rope every turn to double-check your decision, you should do it. Of course, if you go a bit quicker it's good too, but there is no interest in brainlessly throwing your cards on the board.
I hope you enjoyed reading this insight and you found something out of it, I personally had a great time writing it. This tournament was really an amazing run! 😄 This article is very different from my usual in-depth deck guides, so if you liked it please let me know! I'll answer every question in the comments. If you like my content and don't wanna miss out on anything, I started using my twitter account to share things and let people know when I publish a new article! By the way, an in-depth guide for my Spooky Karma deck is coming very soon! 😊
The previous tenant left a survival guide. There isn’t a guide for these floors.
Looking at that button panel in the lift that didn’t lead home I felt a knot form in my stomach. Why hadn’t Albert appeared, and which button was I supposed to press? “Where are we going Kat?” Ellie asked; she had stopped crying but every word was heavy with fear. In truth, I didn’t really know the answer to her question. I stared at the panel, taking in every number and noting it’s inclusion of a -9. “We’re going to see if there’s anyone else around.” I answered. I didn’t like my chances with whatever might inhabit that floor. If wherever we were was a reverse of the building then number 9 could be nasty, so I started cautiously, pressing the -2 button. Mechanics whirred and the large metal doors clapped shut. I wished that I had been behind the real lift’s doors, before it disappeared from sight. The lift that we stood in was as identical to the original as possible, even the shiver it sent up my spine just being inside it felt the same. I was grateful when it stopped and the doors opened to reveal a relatively normal looking corridor, reminiscent of the ones above in the upper building. I would’ve believed that I’d imagined the lift falling and was arriving home if it weren’t for the large black -2 painted next to the metal doors, the lack of any windows and an obnoxious, artificial light that I was sure would give me a migraine if I stood there for too long. I don’t know what I hoped would be behind the red, wooden door that lead to a vast stretch of flats. I didn’t suppose that finding Derek in something that the fake lift had indicated was as large as the building would be that simple but perhaps it would provide some answers. Albert himself was a possibility. I couldn’t predict his moves, but I had a strong feeling he wouldn’t be able to contain his intellectual gloating at the failure of my plan for long. “I don’t like it here.” The small voice broke my stream of thoughts. “Me neither Ellie, hopefully someone will be home and know how we can get back upstairs.” I feebly attempted to smile at my tiny companion, but she was a child, not an idiot. She saw straight through me. “I don’t think we should go through that door.” Ellie gestured to the red wooden door, separating us from the windowless flats. She planted her feet firmly to the spot and refused to move any further. “Do you have any better ideas?” I asked, genuinely hopeful. “I just have a really bad feeling.” Her words didn’t fill me with a sense of comfort or optimism but I saw little choice. I reached for the handle and pulled at the door. It creaked loudly as it opened, releasing a strong, musky smell, like something that had been shut away for a long time. I took a tentative step inside alone, leaving Ellie just behind in the corridor, and shouted hello; hoping that if anyone was in there that visitors were usually scarce and they may come out. Unlike my previous plans this worked flawlessly and within minutes each of the doors were slowly opening. I counted around ten doors in total as human arms and fingers started to emerge from behind them. The flats were filled with - and I use this term loosely - people. They weren’t typical, none of them were dressed and they had fleshy limbs and appendages sticking out of all the wrong places. There were elongated necks, multiple arms and spines bent completely backwards, it shocked me that any of them could walk at all. Each one of them looked like a unique result of intense torture. Torture that should’ve killed them long before they reached the stage they were at. Remembering where I was, I realised that they probably were killed long ago, or they never lived to begin with. One in particular caught my eye. It had a neck at least three feet long and I couldn’t distinguish it’s gender at all. It’s back was bent in a way that a child might to do the crab and it was balanced on all fours. Instead of two arms and two legs all four limbs were left arms, all facing the same direction. It’s neck lulled backwards, swinging from side to side a little and struggling to support itself. I inhaled sharply as it’s head lifted slightly into a steadier position and it locked eyes with me. It screamed. The scream that came from that... thing... was the single most distressing sound I’ve ever had to listen to. It penetrated my soul and I felt every inch of pain and suffering that laced it. My stomach churned and the shrill pitch burrowed into my brain. It left me completely immobile as every other person-like creature in the room lifted its head, wherever it balanced, and screamed in unison with the first. Holding my hands to my ears I started to feel a warm liquid trickling from them but I couldn’t take my only protection away to see what it was. I can’t even begin to describe the pain that I felt. There are no words for a misery that deep. I don’t know how, but I could feel years upon years of torment and unimaginable pain that they’d gone through. The screaming became so overwhelming and all consuming that I started to feel myself getting dizzy. There was a violent tug at my shirt, forcing me backwards before an almighty hiss, vicious enough to cut through the screams and silence them, echoing through the corridor. It took seconds for each and every one of the mangled people to shrivel back into their flats, winding limbs clambering in all directions. Leaving Ellie stood there, horn tips gleaming in the artificial light. “What were they Kat?” I barely heard the muffled sounds she was making that had replaced the heart wrenching screams. I finally pulled my hands away from my ears to see them covered in blood. Ellie noticed and wrapped her arms around me, nicking me accidentally in the side with a claw. It hurt but I didn’t want to make a fuss, in that moment I knew no pain could measure up to what I’d felt during my short time amongst the mangled people. “I don’t know... how did you do that?” I could still barely hear the sounds of my own voice, it was like I was wearing a hat pulled over my ears, despite nothing of the sort and my hair being shoved into a bun on top of my head. “I didn’t do anything, I thought they were going to eat us both!” She replied, hyped on the adrenaline. “But they all ran away..” “I guess I’m just extra scary!” She answered, a pride in her voice that only a child could produce. I just looked down at her and ruffled the blonde hair between her horns. She was frightening looking, sure, but she had nothing on those things, or even the creatures in the lift. I couldn’t understand why such ferocious monsters were so scared of a little girl. Why would they run instantly? It made me uneasy, but I loved the twins, no matter how unusual they were. I just wished that I could be more of a protector for her than it being the other way round. We stumbled into the corridor and I was again confronted by the metal doors of the fake lift. To the other side of them there was an entrance, presumably to a stairwell if the under tower we were trapped in continued to be a mirror of home. After spending what felt like hours in a lift, the idea of stairs comforted me and I ushered Ellie towards the entrance. There were no stairs going upwards, back to floor -1. They only went downwards, the odd artificial light not quite covering the bottom of the set we were at the top of. My ears rung with the sound of the mangled people’s screams. “Do you think they skip too?” Ellie asked me, looking into the abyss with her own, impossibly deep black voids. “Let’s find out.” I answered, gripping her hand again as we started to walk towards the darkness. We reached floor -3 quickly, in one average flight. I considered exploring the corridor of flats that existed on that floor too, but Ellie planted herself firmly to the ground again and insisted we didn’t. I wasn’t about to argue with her, sound still hadn’t returned to normal and I’d learned from my mistake. I couldn’t bare to face anything like the previous floor again. We climbed down another flight of stairs. The ones we had just descended were still there, leading back up, when we reached the bottom, giving me some comfort that as long as we could reach the lift on floor -2 we should at least be able to get back to the cold, dim but empty basement. This time, the stairs did skip, giving some sort of semblance of home. The big, black -5 sign was jarring, but missing a floor had allowed me to tell myself that these stairs were just an extension of the proper ones. More jarring, was the woman. She looked right at us, at my demon sidekick than had terrified everything else... and she didn’t run. In fact, she didn’t move at all, it’s as if she were looking straight through us. Ellie didn’t panic either, she didn’t tell me to get away or hiss at the woman. She just stared back. Her hair was a mousy brown and her features beautiful, yet average. There was nothing particularly distinct about her, except for how much she reminded me of someone else. She was a perfect mirror of her counterpart, she had the same vacant yet sad expression that the man on floor 5 always had. I wondered for a moment what her name might be. “She misses him.” Ellie said. I looked down at her in confusion. “How do you know that?” I asked, not bothering to question who she meant. “I don’t know, I just do.” She shrugged nonchalantly. I sat on the step next to the standing woman and despaired. This whole place was like a sick joke. There was no sign of Albert, Derek or any way out of the labyrinth we we trapped in so far, and I couldn’t comprehend just how much of an imbecile I’d been. Between the thoughts of never getting out, how I’d endangered the entire block, how hungry the kittens would get, Jamie and those awful screams my head felt ready to explode. The incessant ringing was only getting worse. The woman next to me didn’t move a muscle, just stood staring into the open space in front of her. I looked at Ellie, knowing that she was special, and didn’t doubt what she had told me. I could feel for myself that the woman missed the man. I understood how she felt, to lose her love to the building, my heart truly bled for her. “We need to keep going. There has to be someone here that can talk to us. We need to get you back home to your mum and brother.” I spoke, attempting to stay focused. I smiled another forced, optimistic smile at Ellie and gestured for her to follow me further down the spiralling, artificially lit stairs. I wasn’t sure what I hoped to find, or even where I was aiming, perhaps floor -9 was my best bet at any sort of answers. I didn’t get a chance to test that theory. Once we reached the bottom of the flight we were once again faced with the big, black -5. The woman was stood in the same position, facing forwards. “Come on.” I grabbed Ellie and tried to repeat the action. The stairs had always skipped. It wasn’t anything unusual. It wasn’t until it was. By the sixth time we had attempted the stairs Ellie was looking tired and scared. Despite her voids for eyes the rest of her face displayed fear like any normal child. “Kat..” “It’s ok. We just need to keep trying.” I tried to convince myself as much as her. “No... She doesn’t want to be alone. That’s why we can’t leave.” She let go of my hand and extended a long clawed finger in the direction of the woman. She hadn’t moved from her spot and there wasn’t a noticeable chance in facial expression or demeanour, however, something about her felt entirely off. Hostile, even. I understood grief, and doing everything possible to keep people close that you should let go. I wish that were what I thought the woman’s intentions were, I really do. Instead it felt more literal than that, more like she just really couldn’t bare to be alone again, at any cost. “Just keep going.” We ran down the stairs again. Then up them, and down again. Three more times and the terror started to build, each time we arrived in front of the -5 the woman seemed more sinister, more malignant. She wasn’t looking through us anymore. She was looking straight at us. “My legs hurt Kat.” Ellie whined. Mine did too. “Do you think... you could scare her?” I felt sick even suggesting it but Ellie had the best chances of getting us away from the stairwell. Ellie shook on the spot but nodded and took a few steps towards her, she got close to the woman’s face and hissed, claws out. The woman didn’t move, she didn’t blink or flinch at all, she just stayed in her spot. Nothing at first, until she started to move. All that changed was her face, as the corners of her lips curled into a hollow smile. The comfort I had felt from the familiarity of the woman and the floor number was dead in the water the moment she smiled. Ellie had retreated in an instant, tugging at my shirt again and shuffling closer. I think the fact that she did nothing else at all made it even more disconcerting. The woman had the upper hand, and she wasn’t going to let us go. “Please.” I begged. “If there’s anything we can do to help you please tell us.” I fought my fear, doing everything I could to be kind. If she had ever been a person she might somehow pity our plight. “I say hello to your man. I don’t know his name and he’s quiet like you... I think he misses you too. I know he does. I lost someone I love just like you did. I know how you feel.” A singular tear rolled down her cheek but the smile stayed in place. My chest thumped as my heart pounded against my rib cage... maybe I was getting through to her? Her eyes were haunting and hypnotic as they made contact with mine. It was like her brain was scrambled and she couldn’t put the pieces back together. Her eyes were more expressive than I had ever seen before on any person, filled with confusion and sadness. After a few moments of intimate communication with our eyes the woman moved more than I had ever seen her or the man move. She cocked her neck to the side and tilted her head in Ellie’s direction, a few seconds after her neck had turned her eyes followed and she looked intensely at the child, smile plastered on her face and the evaporating trail of the tear still visible in the gleaming light. Ellie started to cry, terrified, she tried to take a step behind me to use me as some sort of shield. No matter how many monsters she fought she was still a scared kid. The woman took a laboured step towards her. It took her a long time to put one foot in front of the other. Standing in one position for so long must do a real number on the muscles, even for those of a supernatural persuasion. Nonetheless, her step was an immediate threat, I could feel that her intentions were malevolent. The sadness in her eyes had developed into a disdain and that single step was a declaration of war. Me and Ellie started to back away slowly, readying ourselves to break into a sprint down the stairs. I was prepared to run them in an endless loop forever if it meant keeping that little girl away from the woman. Before we could even reach the first step, there was a voice. A male voice. “That’s enough now, Angela. I didn’t think you were one to make children cry.” I turned to the man now standing next to the woman, who had returned to her spot by the stairs, visibly calmed. He had one hand on her upper arm but he didn’t need it there, she wouldn’t dare disobey him. His kindly eyes and smile, that held real warmth, were arranged beneath a familiar flat cap. “I wish I could say it were nice to see you Kat, but given the circumstances I better not.” He continued, speaking directly to me this time. “Who’s he?” Ellie interrupted, tugging the same spot on my shirt, where the material had begun to stretch. I smiled at her for real for the first time since our nightmare began. “Ellie, this is Derek.” The next part
Watch some if it if you have the time, it took me over the course of 3 days to make, so appreciate any smashing of like buttons for support! With Vinera now available in the global version of the game, it's the perfect time to dig into evade team compositions. Personally, the evade composition is my favorite setup. It’s gimmicky, but so much fun when it works. It is definitely not a build that has a 100% win rate as it has very specific weaknesses that hard counter it. As with all recommendations, the below are simply recommendations. You should play the game how you want to play.
Fast: generally have high agility
Independent: they don’t need to rely on other units on your team to survive
Stopping power: they often come equipped with status ailment inflictions that can disable enemies
They're freakin' ninjas
Low durability: Base HP tends to be low, so they usually can't really take more than a hit, if at all
Single glaring weakness: this is specifically "guaranteed hits," or spells/abilities that cannot be dodged (except by the Reflex passive). Common examples include the Ranger-class Sharpshoot and White Mage-class Holy
Expensive: some of the best vision cards needed to make this build work well are heavily gated
The evasion stat is the result of combining the Luck stat and Agility stat. In gross oversimplification, the higher your unit’s luck and agility stats, the more likely they’ll be able to dodge an attack. So it’s not surprising to see some of the best evade units have naturally high luck and agility, whether as part of their natural stat growth through leveling up, as part of their ability board, or both. Better yet, they have some kind of base evasion stat built in, whether through passive skills or master abilities. There are three core units I'll be focusing on:
High agility at 64 (base + ability board), which is good for 5th best out of all units currently available in the global version of the game
Even higher agility at 69, which is the highest among all units currently available on global
Highest base evade rate of all available units
Fairly high luck at 201, not the best, 8th to be exact, however…
High luck at 211, good for 4th highest
High agility at 62 and massive luck at 233
Has multiple evasion boosting abilities baked into her unit, including +15 evasion in her master ability plus two support passives that play directly into evasion: Shadow Runner, which raises both luck and agility, and Blade Soul, which directly increases evasion rate
Also comes with various evasion boosting abilities, including a +15 evasion boost from her master ability and the Shadow Runner passive
Has evade boosting abilities in her master ability, support passives in Thief Lore and Tune-up that both increase agility, plus a generic evade up passive
There are also additional units to consider beyond the core three above... Wild Cards:
Owe: basically has all the options that Lynx has: samurai job’s illusion, the Shadow Runner passive, and an evasion boosting master ability. Overall a strong option, just not the strongest based on raw stats.
Ramza: set as a spellblade subjob, he can draw attention away from the squishier ninjas by using Taunting Spell. He’s arguably the best party buffer and even has access to healing just in case Lynx or Kitone managed to take a hit and need some help. He also has pretty good base luck and agility, as well as the Shadow Runner passive.
Mediena: might start sounding like a broken record, but guess what she has? Pretty high luck, respectable agility. And, of course, access to the Shadow Runner passive.
Salire: same reasoning as Medi.
Orlandeau: because. High stats. Samurai subjob with access to illusion.
But for Lynx, Kitone, and Vinera... they're the top three in terms of base evasion rate out of all units available on global, without even considering skills, equipment, espers, and vision cards. But once decked out, they’re even crazier.
BUILDING THE UNIT: SKILLS & EQUIPMENT
As a very general rule of thumb, to get the highest evasion, you want to make sure you squeeze in as much luck and agility as possible. This is why the Shadow Runner passive is so good, since that one passive raises both those stats.
Shadow Runner, Blade Soul
Shadow Runner, Self-Sacrifice
Tune-Up, Evade Up or AP Up
Soldier (or Ninja if Doton is needed)
Thief (or Dual Gunner if missile damage is needed)
Finer details on skills: While Vinera doesn’t have a passive skill that boosts luck, but she does have two that boost agility. Thief Lore and Tune-up. Tune-Up is the must-have since it destroys enemy unit defenses, allowing Vinera to be a real tank buster. Lynx should have Blade Soul which automatically adds to her evasion rate and boosts her attack. Both really nice to have. Similarly, Kitone’s last passive can be Self-Sacrifice, which drastically increases her attack. But what about Shukuchi? Both Lynx and Kitone already have high base movement being ninja job classes, so they generally already outpace most enemy units (4 move and 3 jump as opposed to most units having 3 move and 1 jump). It’s helpful for getting around a map, but at the cost of damage? I personally wouldn’t go for it. As for Vinera, the last passive is a bit of a toss-up. The first is to continue going all-in with evasion and simply taking the Evade Up passive. The second is to assist in offensive capabilities, which will be AP Up, considering Vinera’s lack of efficient TP skills. Now if you’re fortunate enough to have Xiza’s Illusory Bell TMR, then you won’t need the extra AP help and can just take the evasion boost. For subjobs, let’s get the easy one out of the way, which is Lynx’s. Samurai. Illusion. Done. For Kitone, there’s debate between two: ninja and soldier. Ninja is good as it gives access to the non-weapon type damaging skill Doton. But other than that, there’s not too much else going on for it. I personally much prefer soldier as it gives access to much harder hitting skills in Hard Slash and Hazard Spin, both of which are capable of 1-shotting the ever popular Cid. However, the best skill in the kit is Drain Force, which scales off your HP and goes right through any resistances enemies may have. It’s a great way to cut through tanks in addition to restoring any lost HP. Why not time mage? Well, because she kind of sucks at being one. There’s potential utility in it in a different team composition, but not in an evade one where every party member is already fast. And for Vinera, the thief subjob would be the traditional option as it grants very useful skills that complement evasion, such as Shadowcast and Steal Time, all of which are TP skills which help build that much needed AP. And shoutout to Snipe Dagger, which is also a fantastic skill to have. The final piece is reaction abilities. I’m not going to really spend much time on this, because fun fact, if you don’t get hit, you don’t trigger any reaction abilities. Third Eye for Lynx. Counter Slash for Kitone. Dark Shadow for Vinera. Equipment: Two words: Sage’s Hat. It’s the best because the dodge version caps out at 19 raw evasion boosting stats. And to add on top of that, there’s another +8 as part of the item’s attributes for getting up to +5. That said, they are hard to make, so if you don’t have them or have the patience to go the distance, you can sub them out with the rare Wizard’s Hat. Circlet’s an option too, but the jump in materials needed from Wizard’s Hat to Circlet is pretty up there. You may as well have farmed your Sage’s Hat instead. Wizard's Hat vs Circlet vs Sage's Hat (dodge version +5, level 50)
The hat is the core piece of equipment in the evade build. What’s left is the weapon and TMR slots and those are much more flexible. There are plenty of options out there so for these recommendations I’ll just give them my personal preferences.
Sage's Hat (dodge)
Sage's Hat (dodge)
Sage's Hat (dodge)
Ninja Blade (assault) or Alexandrite Ring (aim)
Ninja Blade (assault) or Alexandrite Ring (aim)
Mage Masher (assault)
Shadow Ninja Blade (Lynx TMR) or agility boosting TMR
Shadow Ninja Blade (Lynx TMR) or agility boosting TMR
Illusory Bells (Xiza TMR) or agility boosting TMR
Finer details on equipment: Rationale for Kitone using Lynx's TMR. The reason being is that I have Kitone’s faith up to max, at 97, due to her limit burst and Shadowbind’s stop effect. Higher faith means higher chance that the effect will trigger. So with Lynx’s TMR, Kitone can also inflict paralysis on enemies with her basic attack. That leaves one more equipment slot to play with, which will be an accessory. Hermes Sandals for the extra agility is a nice to have, though Lynx’s TMR already provides some modest agility (+4). Since on global the equipment stats don’t stack, there’s not too much value in having Hermes here, as both the valuable dodge and agility stats are more or less covered elsewhere. So I like an aim Alexandrite Ring here, for its high accuracy and elemental resistances. Crit won’t work as Lynx’s TMR already has a whopping 13 there. But if you opt to not use Lynx’s TMR and go for a more standard ninja blade (e.g. Kodachi or Sasuke's Katana), then that frees up the TMR slot for a different accessory. Now this can be totally up to you. Mont’s Lion Emblem to buff everyone’s agility is nice. Xiza’s Illusory Bells are always amazing, though like I mentioned before they might suit Vinera better. For Lynx, being a ninja herself, her equipment slots can mirror Kitone’s. You can literally try to equip her the same way. A traditional ninja blade, hat, and any useful TMR you have laying around. You can give Lynx her own TMR as she can also be built with high faith to inflict status ailments… she does also have Shadowbind and her samurai subjob gives her Nightveil, which can inflict AOE blind. Lastly for Vinera, I would go for Mage Masher as the main weapon, rather than a dodge Main Gauche. While the latter is very interesting with its max 20 evade stat, it doesn’t provide additional evasion as part of the item’s main attribute, unlike the hats. Also you’re giving up plenty of attack, so let the weapon do what weapons do best, which is provide damage. TMR is flexible if you don’t have Xiza’s Illusory Bells. I would consider something with agility as out of the three units on the team, she is technically the slowest.
Espers and Vision Cards
ESPERS: There are three main espers that are just really neat to have equipped in this setup and some secondary ones that can be good options.
Top 5 attack stat, attack bonus and slash bonus in skill tree
Top 5 attack stat, attack and slash attack bonus
Mediocre attack, but...
Highest agility among espers, 4th highest luck
3rd highest luck among espers, top 5 for agility
4th highest agility among espers
BIG, BIG MAN EATER
Light killer and resistance worth a look
More than DOUBLE the evasion granted in the skill tree vs other espers
Now not everyone has access to both Odin and Tetra Sylphid, so there are definitely viable alternatives to consider: Golem: notable points include having access to man eater in its skill tree, along with defense boosts, high base attack, and massive HP. That HP can come in handy for a Drain Force user like Kitone. Its downside is low agility. Cactuar: main selling point is access to man eater and the highest base luck in the game of all espers, with 66. But it doesn’t have evasion in its skill tree and it has the lowest base attack stat and the third lowest agility of all espers. It’s an SR for good reason. VISION CARDS: For Vision Cards, there isn’t a whole lot of flexibility, and the main reason why the evasion comp is expensive. VCs are categorized into there priorities: +party evasion, +party luck, and +party agility. +EVADE The main vision that’s needed is Shiva. This UR card provides a party-wide evasion increase, up to 20 when maxed out. The downside is that the VC is primarily magic based, which neither Kitone, Vinera, nor Lynx are built on. Hence why I mentioned Ramza and Mediena earlier. They can hold the Shiva card while the other traditional attackers can focus on others.
0*: +3% ice resist; 4*: +10% ice resist
0*: +8% evasion; 4*: +20% evasion
ALT: Untrue Pledge, True Soul (unreleased on global)
0*: +5% slash attack; 4*: +15% slash attack
0*: +4% evasion; 4*: +10% evasion
MAIN: Secrets of the Heart
0*: +3% earth attack; 4*: +10% earth attack
0*: +18% luck; 4*: +35% luck
ALT: Birth of New Life
0*: +3% HP; 4*: +8% HP
0*: +10% luck; 4*: +21% luck
+AGIor other party-wide relevant stat The last vision card is more flexible than the previous two, but ideally you’d want something that can increase agility for more evasion. For agility, there’s nothing better than the limited Scion of House Beoulve. Not many people have this option, especially one that’s awakened and leveled. If you can’t go the agility route, you can opt for more damage. In a slasher party, you can decide between Echoing Screams or Secret Orders. The former grants more raw power, while the latter is much easier to max out, and also grants the user a pretty hefty agility boost.
The awesome thing about the evade comp is that it’s able to go against pretty much any team. Physical slashers, magic users, turtlers… it just has one weakness. Teams with guaranteed hit capabilities, namely Sharpshooters and Holy users. By default, Sharpshooters are currently limited to gunners, so Frederika and Lu’Cia. The latter is your worst enemy, as Lu’Cia, being wind element, completely demolishes Kitone. Lu’Cia isn’t just capable of hitting Kitone with Sharpshoot, she’s capable of 1-shotting her twice over in one hit, essentially turning the match into a 2v3 in the opening rounds before it becomes 1v3 as she’s equally capable of 1-shotting Shadowlynx. And speaking of Lynx, with her low HP, she can also be 1-shot by Frederika’s Sharpshoot. As for Holy, you’re less likely to have issues with this in AI-led battles as AI controlled white mages will not be smart enough to prioritize casting Holy on your units than spending time buffing and healing teammates. But in player controlled matches, you can bet the enemy Ayaka or Salire will take any opportunity to clean house. There are other units that carry guaranteed hit options. Ramza’s limit burst is guarantee hit. In the near future, the earth mage Kilfe has more than one ability that can guarantee hit. So keep an eye out. That said, there are far more units that don’t have guarantee hit abilities than those that do, so the odds are in your favor. Slashers are still the most prominent team compositions and will continue to be the case for quite some time. Even if more players opt to use magic setups, not everyone will carry Holy users. And if you’re focused on arenas and guild battles, it’s a matter of scouting ahead to check if you may be going against a team with Sharpshooters. Are evade units the strongest? No, not in the slightest. But in a game built around RNG and chance, it’s quite satisfying to be able to manipulate that in some way and that’s where building and optimizing an evade team comes in. Hope this guide has been helpful! If there's a tl;dr, then have yourself a tl;siw (too long, so I watched) instead in video form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L8iCM72IJQ
Your 2020 Season Survival Guide and R/Baseball Refresher!
Before we dive in, if you want to participate in the annual Call Your Shot season predictions contest, you can find it here. It's FINALLY coming! Welcome to the 2020 MLB Season! We are so glad you are here. Don't let the length of this post scare you, we just wanted to consolidate all the relevant information that people have questions about into one place to start the season off. This is your survival guide for the 2020 season, it should have all the pertinent information to answer most of your questions! If you are a brand new fan I'd recommend going through most of it, if you're a veteran you'll know which sections you'll want to read by their headings. My goal here is that both new and returning fans can learn how to better enjoy the season and know what's going on on Baseball this year. Okay, take some time and read through what you want to read through below! This is the fourth year of doing this. Every year I go through the previous years comments to find things that should be added or corrected for the next edition, so if you have any great resources or information that you think would be beneficial to add, please comment it below! Sections:
Introduction for new and renewed interest fans.
Rule changes for 2020
Finding a Team
Knowing Where Different Teams Stand
Your Team's Sub
Twitter, Podcasts, and Other General News/Analysis Sources
The Statistical Titans: Baseball Reference and Fangraphs
Where to watch? Your TV and Streaming Guide
MLB At Bat App
How to watch baseball.
Where to watch highlights and game recaps.
TL;DR: Find a way to enjoy the game.
Introduction for new and renewed interest fans.
Baseball normally has a long season. I don't just mean that in terms of time between opening day and the World Series (which can be considered long as it is), but also the 162 games played in 183 days, 18-20 times against the same 4 teams each. It can be daunting, and many people lose interest by "the dog days" of June and July. This year things are going to be a little different. With only 60 games on the schedule (assuming we make it through without a major clubhouse covid outbreak that cancels games versus that team) every game is going to matter about 3x as much as one in a normal regular season. Tensions will be high, but we might not feel it because there won't be that much crowd noise. THAT SAID - they're still playing 60 games in 66 days, which means almost every day for the next two months isn't just packed with baseball, they're packed with YOUR FAVORITE TEAMS baseball, which while exciting after months without any American sports in the regular season (MLS - a tournament is not the regular season) can end up feeling overwhelming when you just finished watching a late game go into extras then wake up to realize there's an afternoon game on in six hours. This guide is meant to help you if you wish to avoid being one of those who feels overwhelmed and loses interest a couple weeks after Opening Day. First and foremost if you are a new fan or newly returning, you must remember one thing: you do not need to watch every game. Many football fans, and even some basketball and hockey fans, find this difficult, they're used to setting aside a few nights a week to watch their team, and they can watch all the games. Baseball isn't like that. For the next two months, your team will only have 6 days where they won't be playing a game. And some of the games they play will start as early as 9:20am (Pacific Time), others will end after 1am (Eastern Time). If you miss a game it's okay, odds are there's another one tomorrow. If you miss a week, no big deal, hell if you get busy for a few months and aren't able to watch you team, that's not an issue, because you can still follow your team. Baseball is a game to be followed. In the old days it meant picking up the morning paper and checking the box scores. Now it means being able to have a final score texted/tweeted/messaged/emailed/what-evered to you the minute the game ends, or rolling over in bed when you can't sleep and grabbing your phone to check the West Coast scores. It means being able to check reddit in the morning to see any breaking news from across the league, or catch a story you missed. We live in a time where you can go to MLB.com and get a recap of every game from last night in less than 10 minutes. Honestly, baseball was made to be consumed, and the technology age makes it easier than ever, whether you want to spend hours every day pouring over stats and analysis, or 15 seconds to see how your team and their playoff rivals did today. The rest of this guide is mostly dedicated to ways that you can help yourself follow your team, and if you have time follow the entirety of MLB. Anyways, enough rambling, TL;DR Don't worry if you miss games, there'll be one tomorrow.
Rule Changes for 2020
For this season only (or so they say...):
The NL will utilize the DH full time.
In extra innings the person in the batting order immediately before the lead off hitter will start on second base.
Games suspended due to rain will continue play at a later date rather than be washed out and restarted.
Arguing within six feet of an umpire or participating in a fight will be met with heftier fines and suspensions this yaer.
Pitchers will be allowed a wet rag to be brought out from the dugout in lieu of being able to lick their fingers for better grip.
Each team has a 20 extra players in their "taxi squad" in addition to their active roster and 40-man roster.
Active rosters will start at 30 players, then will be cut to 28 after two weeks, then 26 after four weeks.
Spitting is not allowed.
Non-social distanced celebrations are not allowed.
Permanent (as any rule change can be in baseball) rule changes for 2020 and beyond:
Three batter minimum - pitcher entering the game must face a minimum of three batters unless they complete an inning.
The MLB Active Roster is expanded from 25 players to 26 players.
Finding a Team
I always recommend following the local team since you'll have more access to news about them in the local media and should be able to get their radio broadcast, as well as TV broadcasts of them if you have cable/satellite/streaming, and depending on where you're at the occasional over the air game, but if you don't live by a team or don't want to follow the local team, or are just looking for a second team to follow, I wrote this in depth guide to picking a team that's the right fit for you.
Knowing Where Different Teams Stand
Every year ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX, NBS, and every other sports related site puts out their season previews. These are great for getting a basic rundown of what is going on with each team, and a simple google search will bring up a plethora of possible articles to read. If what you really want is a fans perspective on what each team's expectations condensed into a few short comments, I'd highly recommend going through each teams day from our annual "Why will X team exceed expectations?" series. All the previous posts are linked in the Astros thread.
Alright, so plugging baseball on baseball seems a bit redundant, but I think it's a good reminder that this is a great hub for all your MLB news throughout the season while still letting you see the occasional amazing college/minor league/foreign league performance. During the season there are a number of features to keep you informed of all the goings on around baseball. Every day of the season (and a portion of the offseason) we have General Discussion threads we call Around the Horn. These are great places to ask questions and discuss anything that you want to know about baseball but don't feel like it deserves it's own post. In the Around the Horn post you'll be able to see a full schedule of what is going on around Baseball every week. Here are the weekly features: Daily: Nightly Pick'Em - A six year running contest to pick the result of one game every day. Details can be found in this thread. Monday: Power Rankings - A team of 30 fans from every team in baseball, led by masochist fearless leader kasutori_jack, releases their composite power rankings of the 30 teams. This leads to well thought out discussions and some in depth analysis, as well as salty fans crying about how their team is underrated (there may be more of the latter than the former, but it's still a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of how every team is doing). Monday (Unofficial) - The last few years thekmanpwnudwn has posted a State of the Subreddits post that gives the top post from each team's subreddit from the last week. This is a great roundup post for staying up to date on what all the different team fandoms are feeling, and helps you catch any milestones you might have otherwise missed. Tuesday: Weekly Awards - Led by lemcoe9 a different team of a fan from every team releases the results of their weekly (and monthly) voting for who the best position player and pitcher was since the last vote was taken. Once again, a great way to keep track of which players are on hot streaks, and who's dominating the league. Wednesday: Wild Card Wednesday - Each week a new contest, trivia game, or just out of the box fun thread will be stickied! Got an idea? Let the mods know! Thursdays: Division Discussions - We rotate between the Easts, Centrals, and Wests to do some more in depth talk about where the playoff races and teams stand. If you only have time for one baseball thread every week and want to keep up with the league, this is the thread to set aside time for. Friday: Trash Talk/Compliment/Complaint - FRIDAYS ARE FUN DAYS, WE ROTATE BETWEEN TRASH TALK, COMPLIMENT, TRASH TALK, AND COMPLAIN THREADS! TRADITION STATES ALL COMMENTS BE IN ALL CAPS AND ENDING IN EXCLAMATION POINTS! WE ROTATE RATHER THAN HAVE A SET DAY FOR EACH ALL SEASON BECAUSE IT'S A LONG SEASON AND ANY ONE OF THE THREE THREADS CAN GET STALE FAST IF YOU DON'T LEAVE TIME FOR MORE AMMUNITION! Saturday: Saturday is when we usually plug in occasional things that don't necessarily deserve weekly attention. Things like in depth stat discussions, memorobilia sharing, craft projects, etc. Sunday: Game of the Week - Sunday is the one day a week where we get together as a subreddit to watch a baseball game together, since it's the one time every week where there's only one game going on and there's guaranteed to be a game. The Sunday Night Baseball game thread is usually posted a couple hours before the first pitch. In addition the playoffs, and select premier match-ups (mostly at the very end of the season where there is a lot riding on a regular season game) we host game threads for all baseball users. These are neutral thread, for more info on less neutral ones skip to the next section. We may experiment with game threads in baseball for the MLB.tv Free Game of the Day this year. In addition to all these features, it really is a great place to keep up with breaking news and highlights. It'll be posted here minutes after someone tweets it, and long before it's on MLB.com. Team beat writers get the stories first, and it's easier to check in here a couple times a day than follow every one of them. Plus there's something the kids are calling "dank memes" (but not too many, because us mods don't allow too much moisture to get into the servers).
Your Team's Subreddit (And other team subs as well)
The mods at baseball have one goal - help you have the best possible reddit baseball experience, and a LOT of that is helping you get connected to other fans of your team (which feels a little like a cop-out because it means less work for us if you're doing more on your team's sub, but your team's mods aren't complaining.) One of the main draws of team subs (other than in depth discussion with like-fan-minded users, getting breaking news and analysis on your team, team-memes, and other reddit discussions that come up from a group of individuals who can agree on one thing) are game threads. At this time (to the best of my knowledge) every team sub hosts game threads for their team's games, and you can easily access them in the sidebar during the season by clicking on the team's logo in the schedule (we're working on getting that up to speed, MLB changed some parts of their RSS and background data and we've had to work around that to get our automated system back up). We like to keep the game threads in team subs for a few reasons, one of which is we want to support the team subs and send them relevant traffic when we can because they really do an amazing job, another is because with 15 games a day this place would look like crap if we had game threads for every game or let users post them as they please (we've tried it, it blots out news, discussion, and highlights and looks like crap, baseball doesn't have only a couple days set aside for games or focus on marquee match ups like many other sports, it's 2430 games played in 183 days and is better when it's spread out.) Even if you're not a game thread person though, getting connected with a good team sub can make disappointing seasons more bearable, and great seasons more exciting, and I know plenty of users that said that their team's sub basically keeps them fans. Team subs are also a great place to get connected to...
Twitter, Podcasts, and other General News/Analysis Sources
Going to be honest here, I don't use twitter and I do not frequently read other people's blogs. I know many people do and enjoy it, and I believe the best way to find the people to follow/sites to visit that interest you the most are to hang around your team's sub and note which Tweets/Sites that are linked to that most often peak your interest. Your list of favorite baseball writers is going to be different than my favorite list, and finding the right twitter personalities, podcasts hosts, and bloggers can make game analysis more interesting for you even if your team is playing like crap and it's the middle of July. Here are some common suggestions for some general baseball twitter accounts and podcasts to get you started, but like I said, find what you like and follow those: Twitter
The Statistical Titans: Baseball Reference and Fangraphs
Literally every day you will find a link or to BaseballReference.com or Fangraphs.com here, it's a given, and it's because these are the two most extensive free baseball databases that are easy to navigate. If you want to look up anything about baseball history, check Baseball Reference, if you want to look up how players stack up with non-proprietary advanced metrics or read an insightful blog post about why someone is overrated/underrated or overperforming/underperforming, check Fangraphs. With these two sites you have all the stats and figures you need to make a competent argument for basically anything you want with a little cherry picking. A large part of the modern baseball world is statistics and you're going to find yourself getting more immersed in discussing the game if you can get a handle on all the terms getting thrown around. If you are brand new to baseball, take a little while to get to know the game before diving into these sites, but if you have a handle on the basics and are ready to know what this WAR everyone is talking about is, dive into the glossaries and find the statistics. When you get the basics, creating your own analysis doesn't seem as daunting, and one of the reasons I love baseball is that I can deconstruct pretty much every play and find some meaning behind it. If you are like that and enjoy numbers, theoretical projections, and breaking things down into simple figures before reconstructing them into something long and beautiful, then learning the basics of sabrmetrics will make you a baseball fan for life. If, on the other hand, you just want to enjoy the game for the beautiful pastime that it is by watching, then we've got a little bit to go through...
Where to Watch? - Your TV and Streaming Guide
So a big part of baseball is, you know, actually being able to watch the games (though as I talk about at the end, it might not necessarily be the case for you, and that doesn't mean you can't enjoy baseball, skip down and see what I'm talking about in the final section). First off, if you are looking for free games to watch, you are in luck! MLB.tv streams one game a day for free on MLB.com and Yahoo.com. These games are subject to local blackouts (details on those in the MLB.tv section) but are definitely worth watching if you're trying to see if you'll enjoy baseball, or just need a free baseball fix. Facebook is also streaming one game a week during the season for free. The other free games available are from May 18 to July 13 on Saturday night and Thursday nights in September when FOX airs games on their OTA affiliated networks. Believe it or not, TV antennas still work in most areas, and these games are free to watch. Some teams also broadcast select games on OTA networks in their region. Okay, so now the more expensive stuff. If you have even the most basic cable package (or log in information) you probably have ESPN. ESPN airs games every Sunday Night as well as Wednesday Night and Opening Weekend. These games are also available on ESPN Go. You also probably have a regional sports channel. This is where almost all of your local teams games will be aired. Here is a decent breakdown of every team and what network they are carried on. TBS is also on even the most basic networks, they air games the final 13 Sundays of the regular season in the afternoon. FS1 and FOX carry baseball games almost every Saturday of the season, and MLB Network carries games pretty much every day. A list of currently scheduled national broadcasts is available here, not all games have been chosen so there will be more added to the list. For all these networks (except for the Dodgers, Orioles, and Nationals regional networks) there are options to stream the games online provided you have cable login information for the channel. During the playoffs FS1, TBS, and MLB Network will carry most of the games, with ESPN carrying a wild card game and FOX carrying the World Series. Now there are also streaming services that grant access to most of the previously mentioned channels:
Sling TV Orange package gets you ESPN, ESPN 2, and TBS.
Sling TV Blue package gets you FOX, FS1, FS2, TBS, and most regional sports networks.
Youtube TV gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, TBS, MLB Network, and some regional sports networks.
HULU Live gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, FS2, TBS, and your regional sports networks.
Playstation Vue Access gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, FS2, and TBS.
Playstation Vue Core adds MLB Network to the Access channels.
Playstation Vue Sports Extra adds regional sports networks in addition to your other channels.
AT&T TV Now Live a Little gets you FOX, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, and TBS and your regional sports networks.
AT&T TV Now Just Right adds MLB Network to the Live a Little channels.
AT&T TV Now Go Big adds FS2 to the Just Right channels.
FUBO Premier gets you FOX, FS1, and your regional sports networks
Also, ESPN+ will carry select games pretty much daily throughout the season.
MLB.TV - the Ultimate Fan Investment
Alright, so a few things to cover with this, first of all YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO LEGALLY STREAM IN MARKET GAMES IF YOU LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES. MLB.tv uses your IP address to see where you are located, and if it pings back that you are in a team's home market it will not let you watch the game LIVE. Here is where you can find what games MLB.tv will black you out from. National broadcasts on ESPN, FOX, and TBS are also subject to blackouts within the United States (MLB Network games are not). Before you ask, yes there are less than legal ways to get around this (spoofing your IP address, subreddit dedicated to mlb streams, etc.), but I won't be talking about those in detail here. IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, YOU WILL HAVE NO BLACKOUTS. Even if you are blacked out, you will be able to watch the game 90 minutes after it finishes, so if you work a late shift or stay up late it might be worth it for you anyways even if you only want to follow one team. Military members and college students, don't forget to apply your 35% discount! "But I don't want to watch EVERY out of market game, I just want to watch MY team!" Cool, for $25 less there's a single team option that will allow you to watch all your team's non-blacked out games! Personally, I'd pay the extra $25 for the opportunity to watch every Kershaw, Bumgarner, and Scherzer start, or put the Cubs on in the background while working on a Friday afternoon, but to each their own. "But I don't want to commit for a full year!" That's okay, there's a monthly option as well in case you know there are months where you can't watch as much. Some of the fun features of MLB.tv include the ability to watch four games at once and quickly swap your audio from one to another (seriously, I'm never on commercial break when I'm watching baseball, unless there's only one game on I'm able to watch it all, and in September that's huge) and condensed games. What are condensed games? They go through and cut out all the time between pitches and innings, meaning if you want to watch a whole game in less than a half hour (or are searching desperately for a play to make a .gif or streamable out of that for some reason isn't considered a highlight) it's really easy. If you're someone who really wants to get into the game but can't figure out how to grind through watching a full game, Condensed Games are great for keeping up with a team while you learn the little details between pitches that somehow make watching the catcher twiddle his fingers exciting for some fans. Also, new this year, MLB has added some great baseball documentaries to your MLB.tv subscription, giving you access to more than just games for the first time. In addition, there are two great resources to enhance your total immersion into baseball if there are multiple games going on. Please note for both of these you must already be logged into MLB.tv to make them work. The first, and most basic, is Brooks Baseball's MLB.TV Redzone. It will automatically take you to the highest leverage game going on, and will automatically shift you to another game between innings OR if another game enters a higher leverage situation. For a more personalized touch, The Baseball Guage has MLB.TV Game Changer which lets you customize your preferences so MLB.tv will always switch to the game that is most relevant to you. This is great if you play fantasy and want to keep up with your players, are waiting for someone to hit a milestone, or if you want to make sure your action is broken into to follow a no-hitter in progress. It also gives you a free subscription to...
MLB AtBat - The Most Underrated Way to Stay Connected to Baseball
MLB AtBat is MLB's official application. It comes in two versions, the free version which has ads but is useful for keeping up to date with all the scores, and the paid version ($19.99 for the year of $2.99 monthly) which gives you access to ad-free content, Gameday on your mobile device, and (most valuable) access to every team's radio stream for every game during the season and postseason completely blackout free. If there's a day game, you can bet I'm listening to it at work, if I'm mowing the lawn on a Saturday I'm listening to a game, when I can't sleep at night, on comes a West Coast game. To get the paid version you must download the free version, then subscribe within the app, or log into an MLB account that has MLB.tv. Baseball was made to be on the radio, it's a sport that is very easy to follow the action with the right announcer. At work (or school) it's great because you can half listen, and when the announcer gets excited you can instantly tune back in to hear what's going on. This is the most underrated way to stay connected to your team throughout the year. Before I could afford MLB.tv, this was the way to go, and it honestly makes me question every year whether getting the MLB.tv package is worth is when I can get 80% of the entertainment value from listening to the games (and every year I manage to forget to unsubscribe, for many reasons listed above). Gameday on mobile is also a great feature, it lets you quickly check in on the action during brief recesses in meetings (or under the table during meetings), or breaks between classes (or under a desk in classes). This is honestly my primary means of keeping track of Twins games throughout the year. My wife thinks I'm crazy when I could just watch the game, but instead am nervously checking my phone every couple minutes. IF I WATCH I JINX THE TEAM, HONEY!
How to watch baseball?
So this is a question that we get from many new fans who are just trying to figure out what the hell is going on and why people find this game so fascinating. I'll get the elephant in the room out of the way, yes there are some "boring" parts of watching baseball on TV. The camera fans to a batter spitting and adjusting his gloves, the pitcher adjusts his crotch then licks his fingers, random shots of a bored looking manager, etc. When you are actually at the ballpark you can be watching where the catcher and fielders set up to try to predict the pitch that is coming (read The Hidden Language of Baseball by Paul Dickson for some great insight into how to interpret this), but on TV it's not usually the case. This is where I have some suggestions for new fans trying to get into it. First off, if you are looking for just a relaxing day, embrace the slow pace with a beer and veg out on the couch while watching. It's meant to be slow and relaxing (until it gets tense and exciting, usually with runners on). Seriously, when was the last time you just sat and did nothing? Mid July afternoon games are a perfect way to reach that zen of half-consciousness, until something happens to get you sucked into the action. Another option to stay engaged is keeping score. I find keeping score relaxing and looking back through a scorebook can be fun to see what you were doing a few years ago (except for that damn unfinished scorecard from 2015 where A-Rod hit the most predictable home run in Twins-Yankees history and I sent my scorecard flying to the other side of the room). As NPR once put it, keeping score is a knowledge making activity, and if you have the time and patience for it it is a great way to learn the game. There are a couple different guides to keeping score, and most scorebooks/cards will have a brief example of how to do so. If you have any questions, the Around the Horn thread is a great place to ask! Gamethreads are another way to get together with other baseball fans and pass the time between pitches, especially in team subs you get to know the regulars and conversations start to wonder away from baseball at times throughout the game, and that's fine. Baseball is an excuse to enjoy a summer day. For those that want to actually understand what is going on during that time, though, there are some options. Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample (who despite his reputation on this subreddit knows some stuff and actually pops in from time to time to comment on different things) is a good starting place for new fans. Baseball for Dummies and The Complete Idiots Guide to Baseball are also good starting points for those willing to sit and read for a little bit. For those who don't want to read a book, I guess I can touch on what I'm looking for between pitches. A big part of baseball is pitch selection, so scouting out a pitchers repertoire of pitches is a good starting point, BrooksBaseball.net has great cheat sheets on every pitcher in the game, and PitcherList.com has a visual example of each pitcher's pitches so you can see what you can be looking for. Anyways, I mention that because the whole reason the catcher is twiddling his fingers behind the plate is to go over with the pitcher what pitch is going to be thrown. What I'm watching for between pitches is where the catcher is setting up behind the plate and guessing which pitch is going to be thrown. A 2-0 and 3-1 count are known as hitters counts because the pitcher needs to throw a strike or risk walking the batter, when the count reaches either of those pay attention, because the hitters going to be looking for his perfect pitch and there's probably going to be some action on the field. 0-1, 0-2, and 1-2 are pitcher's counts, look for curveball, slider or other somewhat nasty pitch to be thrown to get the batter to swing at a bad pitch, or a fastball inside to catch them off guard. If you have any questions about this, go ahead and ask in an around the horn thread.
Where to watch highlights and game recaps.
There are many many places to see highlights and game recaps, this is not an exhaustive list, but is a good start. For highlights, bigger highlights will often be posed here on baseball a few minutes after they occur, if you wish to post them please familiarize yourself with the subreddit rules. They also appear relatively quickly on MLB.com in each games Gameday area. For a pretty slick collection of highlights from across MLB, https://baseball.theate is a great place to exclusively watch highlights. There are a few ways to get great game recaps. If you have MLB Network, every day Quick Pitch is an hour-long show that recaps every game from the previous day. It usually starts after MLB Tonight (about 10pm EDT) or whatever game MLB Network is showing finishes up, and runs until 10am EDT the next day. MLB.com also puts out recaps of every game by the next morning, usually a 2-5 minutes quick rundown of highlights that can be found on the game recap. It also puts out Fastcast videos on youtube and their website every morning which has a brief rundown of all the games from the previous day. Here's an example of a Fastcast from two seasons ago. If you want one concise place to see most of these, efitz11 was amazing last season and posted video links to every game recap and fastcast in the daily Around the Horn thread. Here's an example. I am unsure if they plan to continue it this year, but it would be surely appreciated!
TL;DR Finding what you enjoy about the game.
When it boils down to it, baseball is about finding entertainment and enjoyment, and don't let anyone try to tell you how to enjoy baseball. If you want nothing to do with statistical analysis and just want to enjoy what's going on on the field, don't let anyone tell you you aren't enough of a fan, and if you want to dissect a player into their strengths and components using statcast and advanced metrics don't let anyone tell you you're reading into the game too much. You can follow one team, and only one team, or you can follow multiple teams, don't let anyone tell you you're not a true fan for wearing another team's gear or enjoying their games. You might enjoy bat flips and flamboyance, or reserved speedy home run trots. You might not even enjoy physically watching a game (especially not if your team isn't playing), but find yourself loving keeping track of your team through the season and tracking your players or maybe just the thrill of the standings race and scoreboard watching or maybe you just love all the numbers that get thrown around and arguing about their relevancy. That's okay, eventually I believe enjoyment of the game itself will come, but even if it doesn't, the long baseball season is still creating a place of enjoyment for you, and that's what matters. If you have any questions, once again, feel free to ask them in our daily Around the Horn thread, or below in the comments, or if you really want to feel free to PM with questions and I'd be happy to answer. So watch games this week and join in the discussion here, you'll naturally find yourself gravitating towards certain players or teams and enjoying different aspects of the game. Baseball is a long season, find what you enjoy, stick to it, dwell on it, and enjoy it. TL;DR for the TL;DR - Baseball is fun
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