Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 2)

After the unnecessary, casualty-heavy battle against the First Order we return to the planet Ahch-To, where we last saw Rey handing Luke his old lightsaber at the end of The Force Awakens.  Waiting the last two years to find out what happens next was excruciating.  Even during the space battle it was hard to not think about what was going to happen next.  What would he do when he took the lightsaber?  What would he say?

Well, as we all know, Luke takes it and tosses it over his shoulder as he blows past Rey to leave her standing dumbfounded.  I have to say, this was pretty surprising.  With all the things we’ve all thought and wondered about what would happen I don’t know anyone who guessed this.  While it’s shocking and surprising I’m not really sure why it happened.  Sure it sets the tone for the rest of the interaction we’ll see between Luke and Rey but it is still a pretty big letdown after all the anticipation.

While all this is going on we see Porgs everywhere.  They are like an infestation on this planet that we somehow missed at the end of The Force Awakens.  They’re like Ewoks if Ewoks were cuter and served far less of a point in the plot.  While I avoided all spoilers, trailers, and fan theories going into this movie it was impossible to avoid that the Porgs would be coming so when I saw them I expected them to have some sort of purpose to the story.  Apparently the only thing they were there for was to almost kill each other with a lightsaber and to make Chewbacca feel guilty about being a carnivore.

Rey then follows Luke around the island a bunch.  He sort of meanders around the island, balances on a super long stick, and catches a comically large fish.  He’s like Goku in the first episode of Dragon Ball if Goku was 50 years older and really grumpy.

Eventually Chewbacca meets up with them much to Luke’s surprise.  He is also completely unaware of Han Solo’s fate.  This sort of bothered me.  Han Solo is Luke Skywalker’s best friend, right?  He’s also the husband (estranged or not) of his twin sister and father to his nephew.  How did Luke not sense Han’s death?  Either he was willfully “turning off” his Force sensitivity or he just didn’t have the ability to sense it.  I don’t like any of those answers.

I’ve heard that Mark Hamill was not entirely happy with the direction Luke Skywalker took in this movie and early on in the movie it becomes apparent why.  Luke Skywalker was a whiny, annoying kid in the original movies but by Return of the Jedi we’ve seen a huge amount of maturing and he turns into someone you would think would be worthy of being called a Jedi.  In The Last Jedi Luke is annoyed, grumpy, sarcastic, and exhausted.  We are left wondering if Rey can be the one that turns him around and makes him back into the man he once was.

One thing is for sure, the Jedi seem to be quitters.  Yoda’s self imposed exile seems fine during The Empire Strikes Back but when we see how he came to that exile in Revenge of the Sith we can’t help but wonder why Yoda is so lame.  We were told Yoda was a great warrior.  Apparently the way he shows that is by trying to stop a bad guy one time, failing, then just giving up and going off to die on a remote planet.

Apparently this is something Luke learned from his old master.  If things don’t go your way in the epic struggle against evil just leave.  Run away, give up, leave your friends to die, let your sister tirelessly fight alone without your help.  After all, you’re a Jedi, how could you possible help?  Why don’t you just drink blue milk out of the teat of some grumpy, vaguely humanoid alien for the rest of your life instead of standing up for what you believe in?  That’s the way of the Jedi.  Fight to the death?  No way!  That’s too dangerous!  It’s much easier to run away and feel sorry for yourself for the rest of your life.  That’s’s the classic hero’s journey.

I’m starting to think that a better ending for Obi-Wan in A New Hope would have been Obi-Wan simply sprinting down the hallway in the Death Star and jumping in an escape pod to get away from Darth Vader never to be seen again.

Apparently Obi-Wan would have benefited from the ancient Jedi texts that Yoda and Luke both had access to.

Next up . . . The chase is on!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 1)

The Last Jedi opens in media res, the standard Star Wars way.  We see a small rebel (sorry, Resistance) fleet gathering above an unnamed planet, preparing to evacuate their base ahead of an imperial (sorry, First Order) attack.

Very quickly we see the Star Destroyers, and a dreadnought blink out of hyperspace above the planet.  It’s an extremely well done shot as we see the ships appear from the point of view of those on the planet’s surface looking up into the sky.  We then see more ships appear from space.

One of the commanders of the First Order ships says something about “rebel scum” because, of course, you need to throw in references to past movies wherever possible.

It’s less than a minute into the movie and we already have a great deal of tension built up.  Will the Resistance escape?  Will the base be destroyed?  Something you can’t take for granted in the new Star Wars movies is that the good guys will always be safe.  Nothing is guaranteed.

As the tension continues to build we see Poe Dameron come into site and place some sort of phone call directly to General Hux on the bridge of his Star Destroyer.  This isn’t something I was aware could be done easily, or at all for that matter.  Poe’s voice is just echoing through the bridge with presumably every low level First Order functionary just listening in on the call.

Poe then asks to speak to General Hux and then pretends he doesn’t hear Hux’s responses in an oddly cheeky scene bookended by a tension building escape on one side and a harrowing space battle on the other.  I’ve heard a lot of people didn’t like this scene.  Honestly, I find the humor in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi to be pretty well written.  While it can be perhaps a a little too comedic at times it’s a welcome reprieve from the “humor” in the prequel trilogy.  My first thought when laughing for the first time during The Force Awakens was, “Oh my God.  I’m laughing with a Star Wars movie and not at it.”  This was a great feeling.

Laughing at Hux is also welcome since he’s such a prissy little sycophant he’s just designed to be hated.

After this exchange tricks Hux into buying time for the Resistance we are briefly introduced to another General/Admiral aboard a dreadnought who is annoyed at Hux’s stupidity throughout this situation.  I really liked this character and was disappointed he was killed off so quickly.

It’s then that Poe attacks the dreadnought, taking out all but one of the surface cannons before sustaining damage to his weapon system.  Since all damage to ships seems to happen within poking distance of a droid BB-8 is able to comically jam his head into a motherboard and get Poe’s guns working in time to take out the last cannon so that the Resistance can begin a bombing run.

General Leia orders Poe to escape since their mission at this point is survival.  Poe, however, cannot pass up an opportunity to take down a dreadnought and orders a bombing strike.

There are a couple questions about the Resistance strategy here.

Firstly, why is the fleet of bombers at the ready if they were just planning on escaping?  Secondly, why are the bomber pilots ignoring the orders of their General and listening to Poe who just thinks it would be really cool to take down a dreadnought?

So the wave of bombers comes in at a ridiculously slow speed and, naturally, are all sitting ducks for enemy fighter fire.  Many complain about the idea of a bomb being “dropped” in space.  This is a fair complaint but the idea of bombers in Star Wars was established in The Empire Strikes Back and I’m willing to accept that they use some sort of magnetic force or something for dramatic purposes.  Still doesn’t seem to make sense why they’d be at all preferable to attaching the same payload to a missile but for the purposes of the story I can accept it.

Resistance strategy continues to unravel as we see that it takes a squadron of 8-12 bombers to get just one to survive to get close enough to actually bomb anything.  Then we also see that apparently the payload of one bomber is more than adequate to take out a First Order ship that is eight kilometers in length.  It seems that stashing a dozen or so bombs on a number of fast-moving X-wings may be a far more effective technique in using these things and cost far less in equipment and lives.

This whole scene is action packed, is well done, and makes little sense.  I’m willing to suspend disbelief but it’s hard to understand why any of this would happen.  All the elements were laid in place for a great, and likely similar, space battle but instead we’re left questioning Poe’s leadership, Leia’s authority, and the overall strategy of the Resistance.

Next up . . . The Return of Luke Skywalker!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Introduction)

In 2001 I set out to create a definitive list of gripes (or “Reasons to Hate” as I called them) Star Wars: Episode I.  The eight part series of 78 Reasons to Hate became the most read thing I’ve ever written resulting in millions of hits, spawning a vibrant online community, and continuing on through Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

The attention these articles lead to a mention in Entertainment Weekly, a BBC documentary called Generation Jedi which I still haven’t seen, thousands of emails of praise and condemnation, and a fun interview for the movie The People vs. George Lucas.  They even lead to me meeting my wife.

It’s hard to imagine that my criticism of The Phantom Menace would indirectly lead to the birth of my three children.  Nothing else I’ve ever written has had such an impact on my life.  Much like Darth Plagueis, my criticism of these movies had the power to create life.

In the twelve years since Revenge of the Sith I’ve had time to reflect and think about these movies more.  While I stand behind all my gripes, I do not stand behind the word hate.  I have no hate for any of them.  One thing I told Alexandre O. Philippe while filming The People vs. George Lucas is that I don’t enjoy the hate that’s risen out of the prequels.  Sure, I have my problems with them, I even used the term “hate” which in retrospect I wish I hadn’t done.  However, things got pretty ugly with the way that George Lucas, and unfortunately his family, were treated because people simply didn’t like the movies.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like these movies.  I think that is clear.  I also don’t mind some goodhearted poking of fun at Mr. Lucas.  However, he is George Lucas.  He didn’t kill or do anything to your childhood by making movies you didn’t like.  He simply disappointed you.  He disappointed me too.  For that I will always be happy to make a lighthearted joke at his expense.  At the same time I realize my “hate” came from love.  Love of the original movies and love of the man who was behind them, creating something that was so important to me and so many others of my generation.

When The Force Awakens came out I was bombarded with tweets and emails from people asking me what I thought, asking me to review and give new reasons to hate this new movie.  I answered everyone simply that I couldn’t do it.  I honestly really enjoyed the movie.

I am baffled by people who say that The Force Awakens was terrible or the worst thing they’d ever seen, etc.  I’m past that.  I had nothing invested in The Force Awakens.  I refused to watch any trailer, read any review, or look at any fan theories.  I went into the movie completely blind and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

With The Force Awakens I simply had no energy to make a list of gripes with it.  It was fun.  I laughed, I was touched, I was entertained, it moved quickly.  Sure, I could pick apart every little detail about it but at the end of the movie I was happy and satisfied.  That seems to be what it all boils down to.  I could poke holes in A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, or even The Empire Strikes Back.  No film or piece of art is without its problems or inconsistencies.  To me it’s all about the balance.  Was the film fun enough, good enough, or entertaining enough to allow you to let go and ignore the small distractions?

I could probably write a 10,000 word essay about my problems with “The First Order” and “The Resistance” and how they relate to The Empire and The Rebellion and all those odd political things going on in the film.  However, getting to know Rey and Finn, seeing Han Solo back in action, and learning about Kylo Ren were all well worth those distractions to me.

So it was that I never publicly talked about or wrote about The Force Awakens.  I simply waited patiently, ignoring all trailers, fan theories, and potential spoilers for The Last Jedi.  Even with that it was hard to ignore the general sense of elation and joy coming from the media and critics who seemed to be in love with this movie.  Many compared it to The Empire Strikes Back or even called it the best Star Wars movie yet!

I was starting to get excited.

 

When I finally saw the movie on December 15 I felt much the same way I did after seeing The Phantom Menace.  This is not to say I though it was at all on par with The Phantom Menace as far as quality.  The Last Jedi is a much, much better movie.  The feeling I felt was that of confusion.  I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.  I didn’t want to say anything bad about it but at the same time I was disappointed.  I was confused.  Was there something I was missing?  Everyone else seemed to love this movie!

I had to sit on it for a few days.  I had a chance to talk it out with some people and I could feel those same wheels turning, the ones that in 1999 eventually lead me to write my 78 Reasons to Hate articles.  I didn’t write those articles to be funny.  I didn’t write them to get people to praise me or to wish death upon me via email.  I wrote them because I had to.  There were so many things swirling around in my head and I had to get them down on “paper.”  I had to make a comprehensive list for my own sake, to get it out of my system.

And you know what? It worked.  I felt much better after having done so.

Now I find myself in the same position with The Last Jedi.  I must personally feel that here are enough distractions and inconsistencies with the movie that they outweigh the overall feeling I got from the film or I wouldn’t feel this way.  I know a lot of people who loved it, a lot who feel the way I do, and still others who hate it well beyond anything I feel.

I don’t hate it.  But I have a lot of problems with it.  After having a couple of weeks to think about it I think I’m ready to get them out in the open and discuss them.

Unlike my previous articles, which were written in their completion before being broken up, I have nothing written at this time.  All I have is the thoughts in my head.  I have no schedule and no timetable.  I will no doubt have to watch the movie again to take some notes and I will try to get my thoughts out in as close to chronological order as possible.

I’m ready to talk but I don’t wish to debate.  I have three more children and one more wife than I had when I wrote my original articles.  I don’t have time for that.  Enough people have asked for my thoughts that I will get them out there.  If you agree with any of them, great.  If you don’t, even better.  That means you’re a self-aware human being with your own thoughts and ideas.  Cherish that and be yourself.  Like and enjoy what you like and enjoy and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

2018 will see the beginning of my feelings.  In the meantime if you wish to read any of my previous reviews of the movies you can do so here.

Here we go . . .

Pokémon GO Generation 3: Round 2

After the initial launch of Generation III Pokémon GO has now seen the addition of more ice and water type creatures into the game.  The introduction of more Pokémon has definitely been exciting.  More exciting still is the new weather system which means the possibility of catching more powerful (up to level 35) Pokémon in the wild as well as overall higher IVs.

Delibird has been released and if most players are like me then most players are already sick of catching them.

Exciting for me is that I managed to finally get my steel gold medal, catching 200 steel Pokémon in the game.

The next day I rounded everything out by finally getting my gold fighting type medal.  This is largely thanks to the influx of new fighting types in Generation 3 such as Makuhita and Meditite combined with them spawning more often in the frequently cloudy weather here in the Midwest.

This leaves me with dragon type being the only gold medal I need.  Unless Generation 4 releases some common dragon type Pokémon I shouldn’t see that until some time in 2021.

Wailmer raids have started showing up in the game.  This is exciting as Wailmer’s evolution, Wailord, takes 400 candies to evolve.  There is a great nest nearby but with temperatures in the negatives it’s unclear whether I’ll be able to spend any time there to eventually evolve my Wailord or if it’ll take me several months like my first Gyarados.

Only 3 million XP stands between me and level 40.  So basically I only have to do the entirety of level 38 again and I’ll be there.

I have about 12-14 evolutions ready to go for the Pokédex at this point.  So far the pacing of this generation has been pretty good.  It’s not taking as long as the first two but still a challenge.

At this point recent updates have left a few annoying things with the games, some of them bugs.  These things desperately need to be addressed in a future update.

1.) The transfer/appraisal bug.

On the surface this sounds minor but it is a huge hassle once you get to playing.  Any time you appraise, transfer, or evolve a Pokémon it takes you all the way back to the top of your Pokémon storage screen.   If you have maxed out your storage to 1500, or even at any amount, it means a lot of scrolling, searching, and wasted time.

2.) Scrolling between battle teams, Pokémon, and eggs.

For some reason scrolling between them now requires an extremely delicate touch.  It’s easy to be on your battle party then slide all the way over to eggs.  It’s not the end of the world but it doesn’t match the scrolling in any other section of the game and is frustrating when you’re just trying to get to your Pokémon.

3.) Battle parties not allowing additions.

Some battle parties I have will not allow me to add a sixth Pokémon.  This didn’t happen when the feature was initially released, it only started happening with the recent update.  It pretty much makes some of my custom parties useless.

4.) The Pokédex page.

With nearly 400 Pokémon currently accessible this page is a mess.   With images loading server side it takes forever for them to all populate.  The ever-so-slight color variance between generations makes it difficult to figure out where one ends a new one begins.  Tabbing them by generation seems like a very easy and minor fix to implement.  Additionally a search feature or ability to select by type may be in order.  Anything to make finding who you are looking for easier.  Additionally there seems to be a bug where an additional Barboach shows up after Groudon is unable to be clicked on even though that is not the correct spot in the Pokédex.

It’s been pretty common place that with every new update comes a handful of new and frustrating bugs but as we approach the year two mark for Pokémon GO I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some of these things will be changed for the better.

I anticipate two things from 2018: a fix for some of these frustrating bugs and finally hitting level 40.

Happy New Year!

Slakoth Mega Spawn?

Slaking is the Pokémon everyone playing Pokémon GO wants right now.  Even though plenty of information has come out about it being extremely overrated, it is hard to resist the Pokémon with the highest CP in the overall game.  Since the Gen 3 launch nearly a week ago I’d only caught a few Slakoth leading up to today so I was preparing for a months long journey to getting my first Slaking, much like my time working toward Dragonite and Tyranitar.

Imagine my surprise when I was on my way to work and stumbled upon a small neighborhood which was bursting at the seems with Slakoth.  Everywhere I turned there was another and another.  I just kept catching them over and over.  With it being party cloudy everything I was catching was weather boosted and I caught a few with decent IVs.

I also stumbled upon my first Vigoroth, Slakoth’s evolved form.  I’d seem a silhouette of one on day one of the Gen 3 launch that I passed up, not yet realizing what it was.  He had a really high CP but, not thinking anything of it, I used a Pinap berry and caught him on the first throw.

It turns out he had IVs of 96% and was level 34.  It turned out from all the Pinap berries I’d used and all the Slakoth I’d caught I was already ready to evolve my first Slaking.  I did not delay and was not disappointed.

Slaking instantly became my most powerful Pokémon in the game by almost 1,000 CP (I never power anything up).  After evolving him I still continued to catch Slakoth on the rest of my afternoon journey to work.

So, what happened?  Why was a Pokémon so hard to find all of a sudden spawning like Pidgeys?  I was under the impression that Slakoth nests didn’t exist, much like Dratini and Larvitar.  Momentarily I thought I’d simply stumbled upon a nest.  After more thinking I’m wondering if some weird switch was accidentally flipped and suddenly they were spawning everywhere in the game for a brief time.

At any rate it was a pretty remarkable hour or so of playing the game.  On the one hand it’s exciting to have my most powerful Pokémon without even needing to use any candy or stardust to power up.  On the other hand some of the thrill of the hunt is now suddenly gone.  I can’t remember any Pokémon that I’ve desperately wanted that took me so little time to catch.  I walked Larvitar for well over one hundred kilometers to get enough candy to evolve right before raids came out.  I walked and hunted Dratini for months.  Even Abra and Machop took me forever in the days before Pinap berries.

I don’t know if there’s any truth to my theory of an accidental mega spawn but I’d be interested to know if anyone else experienced any similar situations today.

With Slaking out of the way so early I’m not setting my sights on Ralts and eventually Gardevoir.  Ralts has been another rare find in my area.  I’m not sure if another Mega Spawn is possible but I’m intrigued to find out what exactly happened today.

In the meantime I’ll be putting my Slaking in gyms where, apparently, it will be nowhere near as effective as I’d hoped.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Pokémon Go Gen 3 Launch and Real Time Weather

Generation 3 is upon us in Pokémon Go.  Well, at least one third of it is.  I’ve been saying for some time that the launch of a new generation of Pokémon is exciting but that excitement will be shortlived.  After the first weekend of playing through the game I am already sick of Zigzagoon and Gulpin, however, there are plenty more of the new generation that I haven’t caught.

The excitement of registering a new Pokémon to the Pokédex is always exciting.  In the 90’s when the card game was huge I was always more interested in collecting all the Pokémon.  Once you catch ’em all, there needs to be something to keep you playing.  In the case of Pokémon Go it is certainly a lot more affordable than the hundreds of dollars I spent on those damn cards.

Weather, on the other hand, is a new game play element.  This is the sort of thing the game has desperately needed for a while.  The introduction of weather is so much more than I originally thought.  It’s not just a cool effect thrown on top of what’s already there.  The introduction of weather influences spawns of certain types, it makes them stronger, it improves their IVs, and it strengthens their attacks.  Raiding in weather is even better as you have the opportunity to catch higher level Pokémon (up to level 25) and deal more damage in those battles depending on what Pokémon you select.  There is now more strategy in raiding and gym battling.  Sometimes the strategy is just cursing up at the few clouds in the sky so that you have a chance to catch a level 25 Ho-oh.

I didn’t know about the weather boost at first so when I came upon a 836 CP Eevee in the wild I was shocked.  I thought maybe they’d done a CP rebalance again as the max CP for a level 30 Eevee is 830 CP.  I’ve never encountered one beyond 800 CP in the past.  Now I’ve caught several even higher than this one.  The max level for wild spawns is now level 35, something that makes the weather effects that much more interesting.

Increased Pokémon storage is another great feature.  It seems crazy but my storage was constantly filling up with only (only?) 1000 slots.  With 1500 I can now bank a heck of a lot more Pidgeys for the next double XP evnet.

Adding Waterfall as a quick move has just made Gyarados the strongest water type attacker in the game as it should be.  Eevee, at least where I play, are extremely common and having a dozen overpowered Vaporeon is relatively easy.  With the 400 candy needed to evolved a Gyarados it only makes sense that it is more useful in the gym and raiding systems.

The introduction of Slakoth (evolving eventually into Slaking) makes for a fun hunt.  It took me forever to accumulate enough Dratini to evolve Dragonite or enough Mareep to evolve Ampharos.  It’s nice to have something challenging to work toward.  The bonus is that this time it will be a Pokémon which could be extremely important, if not just fun, to use in gym battle and defense.

Overall this new update has been a breath of fresh air.  It’s great to get out there, find new Pokémon, and see this game take an interesting strategic turn.  Ultimately releasing all seven generations would be fun but it would be short lived.  What this game needs is more little tweaks like the one we just witnessed.  More stats, more strategy, and more nuance in the game play.

I’m very excited for what this new update has brought.  This is the biggest rework to the game since the new gym system and raids were introduced.   I hope Niantic does not sit back for too long before rolling out nice new features like these again.  The game has taken a great step forward with depth but there is still more work needed to increase the overall percentage of time I, and many others, spend playing this game.

It’s Raining Hoenn

Niantic surprised us all this morning with an announcement about Generation 3 Pokémon dropping later this week.  Even more surprising is the announcement of a new weather system in Pokémon GO.

This has been rumored for a while now but actual weather hitting the game will mean an increased chance of catching particular Pokémon.  Even more interesting is Pokémon battle effectiveness will also be adjusted based on the local, real time weather.

While it seems a little cruel to increase certain Pokémon spawns in the rain and snow it is also a very interesting change to the game.  While the third generation of Pokémon will add a very brief excitement to the game it’s just a matter of time before we catch them all and are left with the same game and same problems.  I’m in favor of anything which improves the level of strategy involved, particularly in battle.

Generation 3 Pokémon are apparently going to be released in waves based on type.  For example they will release all the fire type Pokémon, then all the grass type, etc.  I know a lot of people will have a lot of different opinions on this tactic but I really feel like, while fun, a new generation of Pokémon is not the most pressing need in the game right now.

 

Niantic has been full of surprises for us lately.  The Global Catch Challenge ended with the release of Farfetch’d, something I was not super excited about as a grand prize.  Then they shocked us by releasing Ho-oh shortly thereafter.  While we all knew Ho-oh was coming eventually no one seemed to know when.  With the double XP, and even after the event, Ho-oh raids have been some of the best attended I’ve been to.  After a month of Suicune it was easy to get excited about a potentially useful Pokémon raid being released.  It was even nicer after Suicune went away and you didn’t have to take your chances waiting for a Tier 5 egg to hatch.

Overall new generations are always very exciting.  One of the best parts of the game is catching a brand new Pokémon and watching it get registered to your Pokédex.  Sadly it is also one of the shortest lived joys.  After a few hours of Farfetch’d I was already sick of seeing them.

After a few catches unless the Pokémon are very rare or very useful there’s no real point in catching them.  At this point I’m most excited about catching a Pidgey for the XP, a Rattata to get one step closer to my gold Rattata badge, or a Magikarp for another crack at a shiny.

The introduction of weather is one of the most exciting changes I’ve seen in a while because it is a step toward new game play features that are greatly needed to keep long term players interested.

Here’s to hoping we have an exciting December ahead of us!

 

3 Billion Was Not That Farfetch’d

Well, we did it.  As a global community, around this time last night, we successfully caught 3 billion Pokémon.  There was really no doubt that this would happen. but it was still fun.  With that milestone we saw the release of Farfetch’d, previously only available in Asia.

In reviewing the reward tiers this was pretty much the least exciting.  Double XP and 6 hour lures was a nice incentive.  Double stardust was probably the most enticing reward as stardust remains one of the most difficult things in the game to obtain.

Getting access to Farfetch’d gives me mixed emotions.  Part of me feels like the region exclusives should stay locked in their regions.   The excitement of catching a brand new Pokémon and seeing it registered to your Pokédex is one of the most powerful things in this game.  However, as the final reward for this event it was a little anticlimactic.  As with any of the region exclusives once you catch one that’s pretty much it.  There are too many Pokémon in this game that are completely useless.  Farfetch’d, along with all the other region exclusives, is one them.  It’s no good for battling and no good for attacking, it’s simply a Pokédex filler.  Once you catch one, you don’t really need any more.

While it was nice to catch I hit the streets, put on a lucky egg, and tried to do as many raids as possible.  Tier 5 raids dish out a whopping 40,000 XP during this event with a lucky egg on and after catching Farfetch’d I was eager to try to collect as much XP as possible before the event concludes.

This afternoon I finally hit level 39.  That means I’m 75% of the way through the game.  Now begins the length 5 million XP slog to level 40.  Short of double XP events it’s going to be some pretty slow progress from here on out.

Overall I think this event has been a little different and pretty fun.  However, what it proves is that he addition of new Pokémon only introduce a very brief excitement back into the game.  There are some fundamental changes and additions that need to be made if they are going to capture the same level of enthusiasm that the game once enjoyed.

Until then I’ll continue to play every day, slowly making my way to 40.  I haven’t missed a day since the game came out.  The difference is between those days where I play for a total of 20 minutes, and the days where I am walking 20 kilometers and end up playing for 10 hours or more.

Let’s hope I’m still level 39 when the next round of excitement begins!

Late to the Party

So I finally did my first Suicune raid today.  A combination of work and personal obligations, cold weather, and dwindling interest in raiding from the community made it so that it took me twenty four days into November to finally complete a raid.

With a lucky egg I was more interested in the 40,000 XP than I truly was in catching the Legendary Beast.  This is something that Niantic will likely need to address in the near future.  A few months ago nothing was more exciting than raiding and I was organizing raid groups of thirty or more to raid at 5:30 AM before work.

With the introduction of Suicune, the worst of the Legendaries released so far, there is really very little interest to get groups together.  I attempted a few times so far this month but could never get enough people together.  Today I happened upon a group of fourteen with little organization.

I’m hoping that Niantic has something up their sleeve to entice the community to be more active in future raids.  These were my first raids since the rewards were adjusted which was another nice enticement.

Currently I’m looking to simply make it to Level 39 by the end of this event and continue on the grueling journey to Level 40.

Rare Clear Communication from Niantic Regarding Pokémon GO Raids

Yesterday Niantic announced some clear changes and explanations surrounding the EX Raid system in Pokémon GO as well as changes to the regular raid system.  You can see the official announcement here.

This shouldn’t be a big deal, however, Niantic is constantly extremely vague with information surrounding every aspect of the game.

While I would still prefer that the EX Raid system goes away it is encouraging to have some sort of insight as to how it actually works.  They are responding to a very common complaint with the game and one can only hope that they listen to the other valid complaints that many of us have.

From that announcement:

EX Raid Battle changes

  • EX Raid Battles will take place most commonly at Gyms found in parks and sponsored locations.
  • Trainers with a high-level Gym Badge are more likely to be invited to EX Raid Battles taking place at that Gym.
  • Trainers who have completed a larger number of Raid Battles are more likely to be invited to EX Raid Battles.
  • EX Raid Battle start times now take into account popular Raid Battle times at that Gym.
  • Trainers invited to EX Raid Battles will receive an in-game notification if the EX Raid Battle is canceled.
  • Trainers will receive Stardust and Premium Raid Passes when an EX Raid Battle is canceled.

And, also:

Raid Battle changes

  • Trainers will now receive Golden Razz Berries for completing Raid Battles.
  • The numbers of Potions and Revives awarded to Trainers for completing a Raid Battle will decrease slightly, but the quality of Potions will increase.
  • The likelihood of receiving Fast and Charged Technical Machines for completing a Tier 3 or higher Raid Battle has increased.
  • Trainers will now receive Stardust for participating in a Raid Battle, whether they win or lose.
  • Magikarp will make a triumphant return to Tier 1 Raid Battles.

One can hope that this is the beginning of what will be much more clear communication from Niantic about updates and changes being made to the game.  The real test will be seeing if having access to this information improves anyone’s chances of actually getting the elusive EX Raid pass.

It would be nice to get my hands on a Mewtwo before they do some sort of mass release and we start catching it with Santa hats in another month.