Lion of the Blogosphere

Games other than Overwatch that a middle-aged man can play


I’ve written about this game before, but I can now say this is the absolute best game I’ve played during the last two years. As an iPad game, I find it much easier to play than PC games. It’s just a lot easier to tap where you want to go than to use a mouse to do that, especially when every fraction of a second delay can get your hero killed.

This game is a “MOBA,” similar to the very popular PC game League of Legends, played in teams of 3v3. You move around the map, you try to capture objectives and/or kill the enemy. Although you do inevitably die, it’s a lot less frustrating form of dying than in Overwatch.

Also it’s free. Yes, if you want to spend money, you can buy “skins” for your heroes, but that’s just a waste of money in my opinion. Skins have nothing to do with the gameplay. You can also pay to unlock heroes, but I have every hero unlocked from the in-game currency I “earned” from playing the game and I never paid a cent. (Of course, people paying money to unlock heroes and buy skins is what keeps the game in existence, so it’s good that many people do that.)

This game would probably be even more fun if I got into a team that used voice chat, but I haven’t done that.


Theoretically, this would be a good game for those who like to think but don’t have quick reflexes, because underneath the fancy graphics and complicated rules (which admittedly would be way too complicated to adjudicate if you were playing this game in person with physical cards and no computer) it’s just a 1v1 card game. You have a bunch of cards in your hand, you play a card, stuff happens, you draw a card into your hand. It doesn’t require any more hand-eye coordination than online poker.

I found this game very fun when I first started playing it, and actually I played the game regularly for a few months. But eventually I came to realize that this game has the same pay-to-win revenue model of mobile games like Clash of Clans. You would have to spend hundreds of dollars to buy the cards that you would need to have a competitive deck. Eventually, this turned me off to the game.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 12, 2017 at EDT pm

Posted in Nerdy stuff

23 Responses

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  1. Games other than Overwatch that a middle-aged man can play

    1 tennis

    2 golf

    3 basketball

    4 chess


    March 12, 2017 at EDT pm

  2. Pay to win is terrible.

    I think there was some research done that shows clash-of-clans style games make 3x the money (at minimum) that regular (buy game and done) do. The majority of the profits come from “whales” that spend 1000s of dollars on in game stuff.

    This is value transference…taking money from dumb people (not necessarily proles, swpls love clash of clans) and providing negative value in return. This is almost as bad as smoking.


    March 13, 2017 at EDT am

    • SWPLs love Clash of Clans? No way!

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 13, 2017 at EDT am

      • The pay-to-win Kim Kardashian game was at least briefly popular (semi-ironically?) among SWPL women. And I read a blog post by a guy who’s a computer programmer and became a degenerate addict to the one with the Kate Upton ads, spending some obscene amount of money (50 grand IIRC).


        March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

    • This is value transference…taking money from dumb people

      Technically, any transaction that isn’t an asset/investment and doesn’t help meet a basic need is “value transference” and “taking money from dumb people”. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, bling/luxury goods, fancy restaurants and vacations, etc.


      March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

      • restaurants and fancy vacations are not value transference because they add value to people’s lives: you have experiences and memories, chances to socialize. These provide lasting value to a person’s life that some psychologists claim is worth more than a material good.

        Games like clash of clans provide you with no lasting value, no one will ever look back on their deathbed and say “I’m glad I spent 4 years and 50k on a phone game!” No one. You can meet a future spouse on vacation, you can not while playing clash of clans. It is a drain on humanity, as are most of these games.


        March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

  3. There are a lot of card games besides Hearthstone and most of them are less pay to win / grind to win. Blizzard is the McDonald’s or Microsoft of video game companies and you’re paying extra for the brand and for playing the game that everyone else is playing.

    I’ve been playing the beta test of another card game, Gwent, and it feels better than Hearthstone so far in that I’ve been able to get the cards I’ve wanted pretty fast but since it’s a beta test so they might make the release version more pay to win. Gwent is a spin off of the single player role playing game Witcher 3 which is very good but only if you want to play single player role playing games.

    If you want to get some proper use for your hardware you probably do want to try some single player game as story oriented games are the ones who play like pretty interactive movies. The downside of story oriented games for a middle aged player is that you’ll have a harder time tolerating bad writing. (Witcher 3 had a stupid “bad guys in skull armor want to destroy the world” main plot but it was saved by good side stories.)

    Jaakko Raipala

    March 13, 2017 at EDT am

  4. Civilization VI


    March 13, 2017 at EDT am

    • How is it better than Civ4 which I still play from time to time?

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 13, 2017 at EDT am

      • I actually think Civ2 was the best. Though even better was Alpha Centauri.

        After that, they added complexity without realism, which is the worst kind of complexity. If a game isn’t going to be realistic, it should be just as complex as it needs to be to allow for interesting strategies.

        Chess is a good example — its complexity relative to checkers adds a lot of interesting strategy, but it’s still a simple game. All of the quirky rules that were added later (e.g. en passant) are there to correct glaring problems or abuses (we’d call these patches if it were a video game.)

        If you want a good complex strategy game, try some of the Paradox games, especially Europa Universalis IV or Crusader Kings II. You can still do very unrealistic things with them (especially if you’re the type to identify and grossly exploit the AI’s vulnerabilities), but I’d still classify them as “historical simulations”, as opposed to Civ, which is more of a city-building board game with a historical “skin”.

        EU4 or CK2 can also be enlightening in terms of improving your understanding of history. Many people here seem to feel that if an activity isn’t “enriching”, then adults shouldn’t engage in it. But I think playing some EU4 combined with reading about the early modern era (~1400 – 1800) is a better way to learn about that period than just reading on its own, at least if you enjoy the game. The situations in the game will provoke your curiosity, and the facts will stick with you better than if you tried to just sit down and read a book on its own.

        I never really had a visceral feeling for the impact of the Reformation until I first played EU4 and watched Europe descend into near-anarchy. Suddenly I had to pause my nation-building efforts while I figured out what to do about these Protestants, whether to side with or against them, and whether I could even hold my country together.

        The Civ games added religion, but it’s implemented in a bizarre way that has no relation to actual history. Christianity might be invented by the Aztecs, and Islam by the French. EU4 captures the impact of religion on strategic thinking in the relevant period.


        March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

      • Re: Civ 2 / Alpha Centauri, I knew Brian Reynolds growing up; when I got older it was always weird after a 12 hour binge on Civ 2 to think how such an unassuming guy could create such an addictive product.

        Jokah Macpherson

        March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

      • Wow! That’s awesome that you knew Brian Reynolds!

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

  5. MOBAs are great for adults who otherwise have trouble justifying time spent on “video games” because they can be used as a social medium. I use League of Legends to keep in touch with my friends who I have on the phone with me while we’re playing. It’s a shared activity you can do with people who are far away. The gameplay feels more rewarding when the guy you just saved is your friend in real life.
    In those types of games, some champs reward planning ahead more than others and allow you to take advantage of less mature players who just want to slash and bash. Adult guile actually goes a long way vs. angry 14 year olds who don’t plan their next move. As a group, this is even more so because the kids aren’t thinking as much about things like team composition.

    Turn-based strategy is for people who like to think, whether it’s chess or civilization IV. Heroes of Might and Magic III is also one of the best ever made in my opinion.
    Recently, got a single-player game called FTL off steam for 10 bucks at a friend’s recommendation. You’re in charge of a single space ship and manage its crew. If you die once, the game’s over so having a viable strategy with your build and managing risk is critical. Like many rpgs, you pause the action with the spacebar so you have all the time you want to figure out your next move.

    For 1st person games that aren’t just mindless shooting, I would say Deus Ex is a great classic. Thief: The Dark Project is a 1st person game where you’re actually supposed to avoid the guards and on higher difficulty, you actually lose if you kill anyone.

    In RPGs, Planescape: Torment is a classic. The story is elaborate enough, it’s like playing a novel and explores themes of whether eternal life is a curse and final death or forgetting, a blessing.

    Giovanni Dannato

    March 13, 2017 at EDT am

    • I’d agree with FTL as a great pick. Anyone who enjoys Star Trek (esp. Wrath of Khan) should enjoy this game — it’s a better simulation of the ship-commanding aspects of Star Trek than any game that has the “Star Trek” name. There’s a lot of interesting strategy to it. Plus it’s cheap and will run on any computer.

      I actually think Torment is a game that has aged very poorly. I never played it back in the day, and now I can’t get into it. It should have been made as a traditional point-and-click adventure (like the LucasArts games, for example), but instead they tried to make a hybrid of those games and the Baldur’s Gate games, except the combat is terrible — much worse than Baldur’s Gate, which itself has aged a lot.

      As for Deus Ex or Thief, I consider early 3D games to be the “dark age” of gaming — those games are just really hard to play now, lacking both the simple charm of 2D games and the realism of modern 3D games.


      March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

    • FTL was just on sale for 2.50 on steam. One of the best games out there, really. Surprised to find people unaware of it.


      March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

  6. Your fans want to hear your thoughts on Steve King’s twitter post

    Otis the Sweaty

    March 13, 2017 at EDT am

  7. And Hearthstone just decided to do away with Adventures and rely only on Expansions, thereby increasing the cost even more.

    I’ve been playing Hearthstone since you wrote about the game and have enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s definitely perfect for a middle-aged guy with a family and not much free time. But I’m a F2P player, and Blizzard’s becoming increasingly obnoxious about extracting money from the game. Their last expansion and adventure were duds too, so they’ve been losing player base and the game’s becoming less fun. Also, it’s becoming more and more difficulty for a newbie to climb the ranks without having to shell out hundreds of dollars for cards. And you don’t actually own the cards, unlike Magic: The Gathering, in which you can’t trade cards and look for arbitrage.

    I’m actually thinking about switching to MTG and going to Friday night game nights. It’s extremely nerdy, but I could use more socialization, even if it’s with dorks who are drinking Mountain Dew. I’ll bring my spiked Root Beer.


    March 13, 2017 at EDT am

    • I know several pretty cool guys who play MTG.

      Jokah Macpherson

      March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

  8. Chess players are actually socializing, when you realize that certain personalities react differently to certain moves being played. It’s more accurate than any psychologist’s theory, and go figure that I’ve never seen a book written about this. Actually, playing just to win is a relatively rare mindset that misses the point of the game, and to some extent life in general. As a form of etiquette it is most appropriate to stick to chess, and with acquaintances who aren’t truly best friends yet. After friendship, you can trust them to roll with you at jiu-jitsu or something.

    Puzzle games like Spacechem are probably the healthiest games for solo play. Somehow they can’t make artificial intelligence really work for games, after all these decades, but they can make it work for cars and drones. Says a lot, right there.


    March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

  9. There has been a mini-Renaissance in computer RPGs since 2012, starting with Legend of Grimrock as an homage to the classic CRPG Dungeon Master from 1987 (which itself has a free Windows port available online). The sequel Legend of Grimrock II, released in 2014, is arguably even better.

    Might and Magic X was released in 2014, the latest in a series that began in 1986. Wasteland 2, released in 2014, was the long-awaited sequel to the classic Wasteland from 1988, which later inspired Fallout in 1997. Age of Decadence and Underrail, both released in 2015, were in large part spiritual successors to Fallout. Torment: Tides of Numenera, which has just been released, is a spiritual successor to the Planescape:Torment from 1999, though word is that Numenera is a great disappointment. A spiritual successor to the classic CRPG Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss from 1992 (the first 3D RPG) is in the works, called Underworld Ascendant, likely going to be released next year. Richard Garriot, the creator of the actual Ultima series, is working on a spiritual successor called Shroud of the Avatar. InXile, the corporate successor to Interplay, is working on The Bard’s Tale IV. A popular gamebook from the 1980s called The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was turned last year into a computer game (though, as a gamebook, it’s too simplified and confined to really be an RPG). Japanese companies continue to produce many games in the vein of the classic Wizardry series, which started in 1981.

    The Demon’s/Dark Souls series that started in 2009 also has its merits, with a well-done action-based combat system, but it’s so dependent on the player’s physical skill that it’s only a borderline RPG and many people would struggle with it. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, originally released in 2012 on the PS3, had a computer port last year. This game also has a well-done action-based combat system, but relative to the Souls series is much more of a proper RPG and much less dependent on the player’s physical skill.

    The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt was released in 2015 to immense commercial success, borrowing the Open World formula of the Elder Scrolls series. The original Witcher from 2007 is also worth playing (but not the middle game in the series, which had far worse gameplay than the other two).


    March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

  10. Obviously DoTA needs to be included in the list… especially if you like Vainglory (voice chat being default in the game as well.


    March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

  11. Europa Universalis 4 is a cool strategy game. You can’t play it on an Ipad (there are in fact no quality strategy games in tablet form) but I feel it is far superior to Civ. Crusader Kings II is a game by the same company (Paradox) with the difference being that EU4 is more like Civ in that you run a nation while CKII you are in charge of a bloodline.

    The Total War series is worth checking out too. It is a combination of grand strategy and tactical warfare. The commanding armies on a battlefield thing is cool (and looks great) but the diplomacy AI suffers in comparison to the Paradox games. Total War has a huge modding community and you can download user generated mods that greatly enhance and improve the original game. Same is true with EU4 and CKII (and Victoria II, another Paradox game).

    I wish these games existed when I was younger and had the time to play them. With a job and girlfriend I don’t really have the time to put in more than a couple hours a week. Computer Games might be a huge quality of life advantage we have over previous generations when we retire and perhaps even especially when we get shipped off to an assisted living home.


    March 13, 2017 at EDT pm

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