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Hearthstone Heroic: Noth the Plaguebringer

Noth’s heroic hero power was to summon a 5/5 skeleton if any of your minions died. That basically meant my strategy was to have no minions in my deck, which meant pure damage, which meant mage again. Here’s my deck:

  • Arcane Missiles x 2
  • Ice Lance x 2
  • Arcane Explosion
  • Flamecannon x 2
  • Frostbolt x 2
  • Frost Nova x 2
  • Ice Barrier x 2
  • Ice Block
  • Polymorph: Boar
  • Vaporize
  • Cone of Cold x 2
  • Fireball x 2
  • Polymorph x 2
  • Flame Lance x 2
  • Blizzard
  • Emperor Thaurissan
  • Flamestrike x 2
  • Rhonin
  • Pyroblast

In the game, I used his Abominations and Unstable Ghouls against him to clear the board. His Counterspells were annoying but luckily he didn’t have them when I did the Fireball x 2 + Pyroblast combo. I also hit him once with Rhonin and needed Rhonin’s Arcane Missiles x 3 to finish him off. It only took my two tries to beat him, but I think I was luckily. This is one of those bosses where if you are on the wrong side of the RNG then it will be very frustrating.

Rebuilding My Userbase: Progress Report

It’s been a month and a half since I started attempting to rebuild my Always Taeyeon userbase, and the results have been…non-existent. I converted about 5-10 users, and I’m not even sure if those are converted users or new users that saw my posts on Tumblr/Google+ etc! This has been pretty much a failure given that I still have 100+ DAU. There’s just no motivation to download APKs and install them (with good reason, because there is so much potential for malware).

That just goes to show if you’re not on Google Play (or perhaps some other mainstream app stores), then you’re not going to be able to get traction with users.

Hearthstone Heroic: Maexxna

The strategy for Maexxna seemed to be straightforward. Since his hero power was to send your minions back to your hand, the most important thing the minions you summoned needed to have was a beneficial battlecry. Also your minions weren’t going to be on the board so you needed to win with direct damage. I went for a healing/damage mage build with lots of freeze spells to handle the minions. Here’s my final deck:

  • Ice Lance x 2
  • Voodoo Doctor x 2
  • Frostbolt x 2
  • Explosive Sheep
  • Frost Nova x 2
  • Ice Barrier x 2
  • Ice Block (I only have one in my collection)
  • Earthen Ring Farseer
  • Imp Master (this was to get extra tokens to ping face, but it turns out they would just get traded)
  • Wolfrider
  • Cone of Cold x 2
  • Fireball x 2
  • Polymorph x 2
  • Dragon’s Breath x 2
  • Antique Healbot x 2
  • Blizzard
  • Flamestrike x 2
  • Pyroblast (I only have one in my collection)
  • Molten Giant (I meant to cast this repeatedly for 0 mana, but I could never keep it out long enough to attack

I had to play this one three times and tweak my deck slightly. In the end, this heroic boss wasn’t hard but took awhile – I was thinking that I needed card fatigue to win. The key is to keep Maexxna’s board filled with one damage spiders and counteract that with healing battlecries. A single Antique Healbot would give you +1 health each turn, and leave you with 5 mana to play damage. In my winning game, they had 5 spiders and then played 2 Acidic Swamp Oozes which I had to handle with polymorphs. In a previous game, I tried Flame Strike board clears but that backfired because then he would start playing stronger minions. By keeping Maexxna’s board full, he eventually had a full hand and kept burning his draw.

I almost ran into the same scenario where my hand became full with board clears and minions that would end up being traded with spiders (e.g., Voodoo Doctors) but luckily drew Fireballs and Pyroblast to finish him off.

Hearthstone Heroic: Grand Widow Faerlina

Grand Widow Faerlina’s hero power deals one damage to you (or your minions as I later discovered) for each card in your hand. So my strategy here to beat her was simple – keep my hand size small! That meant I had to play aggro and I chose Hunter so I could deal extra damage using my hero power. Here’s my deck list:

  • Brave Archer
  • TimberWolf
  • Bear Trap
  • Explosive Trap
  • Misdirection
  • Snipe
  • Annoy-o-Tron
  • Haunted Creeper x 2
  • Ironbeak Owl (useless, was going to swap out)
  • Mad Scientist x 2
  • Scavenging Hyena
  • Eaglehorn Bow
  • Animal Companion
  • Deadly Shot
  • Kill Command
  • Deathlord
  • Harvest Golem
  • Ironfur Grizzly
  • Core Rager
  • Piloted Shredder x 2
  • Tournament Medic
  • Antique Healbot
  • Mukla’s Champion
  • Sludge Belcher
  • Cairne Bloodhoof
  • Emperor Thaurissan (probably another bad pick now that I think of it
  • Savannah Highmane

I beat her on my second try so I didn’t get a chance to optimize this deck. The key to my victory was Brave Archer which let me deal 2 damage per turn for 2 mana once I emptied my hand. I was also thinking that if this deck didn’t work, I would try Warlock. The warlock’s hero power seems counter intuitive in terms of strategy but I was planning on using Dreadsteed and imps to soak up damage; then the cheap class minions to do damage.

New Quest: Hearthstone Heroic Adventures

After finishing my first Hearthstone adventure, I played one of the heroic heroes. It was quite challenging but I was able to beat Anub’Rekhan. I tried the next hero (Grand Widow Faerlina) but after several tries, I couldn’t defeat her and gave up.

Now that I’ve spent more time on Hearthstone, expanded my collection and improved my thinking of the game (also having more power creep in expansion helps), I’ve decided to take another shot at them. Heroic adventures should probably be my most favorite playmode in Hearthstone; there’s a clearly defined goal that you need to tackle and you need to find some way to beat the rules in the AI (game within a game)

Perhaps what set me up to taking in these challenges again was the recent tavern brawl – Unite Against Mechazod. In this one, you and your opponent had to team up to defeat a 2/95 mech. The first couple of times were difficult and I lost a lot. But once I figured out the tricks of my and my teammate’s deck, as well as the behaviour of the AI; the victory was easy (although I still lost a bunch because the quality of my teammate’s play varied)

Fighting Heroic bosses is easier now with my expanded collection, although I still don’t have all the cards (for example it would be a lot easier if I had Alexstrasza to bring the hero’s health from 45 to 15). Yet that’s part of the fun because I need to figure out my strategy and deck with these limitations. I’m going to keep track of my progress on my blog by posting my deck construction and strategy, assuming I actually beat any more heroes!

October 2015

October came and it started getting cold really quickly. The children progressed from a thick fall jacket to a winter jacket by the end of the month. It’s only a matter of time before the snow pants come out!

In October we went out a couple of times to farms for apple picking, pumpkin patches and general fall activity. We also made a trip down to Niagara over the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday (I had to work on the Monday). Thanksgiving was also at the end of the week that Apollo celebrated his third birthday so that week was hectic, with events every day.

Halloween landed on a Saturday this year so Halloween events were actually on that day instead of spread out over the previous week (except for his schools since Apollo doesn’t go to all of them on Saturday). Apollo got a couple of new costumes this year, but Jovian made due with Apollo’s hand me downs.

I transitioned my phone from the Nexus 5 to the larger OnePlus Two this month. The goal is to replace the need to carry around two phones and it seems to be doing OK in that respect (it’s not perfect). Hopefully I can also use this phone for awhile instead of upgrading as the transition process is kind of a hassle.

I’m still slowly collecting Hearthstone. I’ll never complete any sets (too hard to get the Legendaries) but I still get enough new cards that it’s worthwhile to grind every week. I accumulate 4-5 packs a week and I open them all on one day for increased highlight, although it also brings increased disappointment if I don’t get anything substantial (new epic or legendary) within those couple of packs.


To help me with my painful process of enabling/disabling SIM cards to switch 4G networks, I built a small Android app to do the work for me. Simmering (couldn’t think of a better name) just does one simple thing, it takes the inactive SIM card and enables it, then it takes the original active SIM card and disables it. I also added a little enhancement so that after a period of time, it will perform the reverse operation. That’s a convenience for me so that I can give my phone a brief period where it can sync and retrieve anything it needs from the cloud, before returning back to my (probably not connecting) WIND network.

Here’s a screenshot of it in action:

The app has a really narrow target audience, but I figured if I spent the time on it, then I might as well put Simmering on Google Play. It’s probably one of those apps that I will never update again.

Dual Sim Doldrums

One of the reasons I bought the One Plus Two was because it had dual sim card slots. There are a lot of Chinese phones that have dual SIM card slots, but the OPT is one of the first ones with Western world support (the other being ZenPhone 2). From past research I knew that usually dual SIMs meant that the second sim would be GSM only, so before deciding on the OPT, I did research to verify that both slots could indeed support 4G.

While my OPT arrived last week, my Micro B to USB type-C adapter didn’t arrive until this week, and I went out on the weekend to do SIM swaps from micro to nano (WIND waived the fee and Bell charged me $10). However, when I tried both SIMs, I could only connect to one network at once! I tried a bunch of things and thought that I had a software caching issue (I had used the AWS SIM first and then switched its slot, maybe the first slot was still looking for a network on AWS).

Anyways, it turns out that while it didn’t matter which slot I put the SIM cards (i.e., both supported 4G networks), only one could work on 4G at once. The other had to work on GSM. I guess this kind of made sense – OnePlus didn’t bother embedding 2 4G radios in the phone. But it basically broke my use case because neither WIND nor Bell has a GSM network so I couldn’t use both SIM cards at once. Even if one of my providers had a GSM network, I don’t think it would satisfy my use case, because I wanted 3G data fallback and 3G/LTE data can only work on one SIM card at one time.

In the end, I decided that my strategy would be to carry both SIMs but only use one at once. At least this way if I hit one of the WIND deadspots, I can switch to Bell. The switching process is kind of a pain though, hopefully I can write a quick Android app to make the process one-click.

One Plus Two Rationale

Surprisingly, I’m back on a two-year upgrade cycle for my phone. I bought the Nexus 5 in November 2013, and even though I’ve had issues with it and have been thinking about upgrading, I’ve delayed until this past week to get a new phone. I ended up getting a 64GB One Plus Two over my other two choices: Nexus 6P and Moto X Play/Style.

I waited until the Nexus 6P was announced before making my decision. I prefer getting the latest Android OS ASAP (for example, my Nexus 5 is on Marshmallow now but the OPT is still on Lollipop) so I really wanted to buy this phone. The main reason that I didn’t was because it is horrendously ugly – I hate that black bar on the back of the phone. The design just kills it. It was also the most expensive of my three choices by a significant margin.

The Moto X Play/Style was my first alternative but because it was not available for purchase yet in Canada or US, it lost me as a customer. Although the OPT has some significant drawbacks (NFC & not straight from Google), I decided that it was ok. I’m not too worried about lack of NFC. I think wireless charging contributed to the death of my Nexus 5’s battery and if I ever use Android Pay, I’ll probably end up using it via a wearable (and if it really takes off, I’ll get a new phone within 2 years).

The defining feature that made me pick OPT instead of waiting for a Moto X was that the OPT supports dual 4G sim cards. I can’t trust WIND Mobile in the GTA so having an alternative is valuable to me. Also, it would be great for vacation. That was enough to convince me to buy one, and I was able to secure a (free) invite after only a few days. Unfortunately, my equipment for USB type-C and nano sim cards have not arrived yet so I can’t actually use the phone!

Android Games 26

AdVenture Capitalist is an Android game but I’ve been playing it on PC (via Steam). It’s the same basic game as Cookie Clicker where you start off small (in this case a Lemonade business) and then scale up exponentially to…?? I guess take over the world because you’re a capitalist and you have tons of money rolling in. It’s less interactive than CC since you don’t have to click as much (you buy managers to do that) so it just kind of sits in the background while you try to add more zeros to your net worth.

I saw Avoid being promoted on Google Play so tried it out. Like Flappy Bird/Crossy Road, it’s a game that scales up in difficulty. Your main goal is to avoid your character being cut up by the saws that are bouncing around. Once you’re cut up 3 times, you lose. While avoiding the saws, you also have to collect coins, which you can then use to unlock new characters to cut up. It’s a mindless time killer for a little while, but not addictive. Also I found that it’s relatively easy to rack up a high score (but not coins) if you just sit in a corner. Since the saws are circular, their bounce patterns will generally avoid corners.