Advantages And Disadvantages Of Trading Binary Options ...
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Trading Binary Options ...
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Binary Options Trading ...
Advantages and Disadvantages of Trading Binary Options ...
Advantages and Disadvantages of Binary Options Trading ...
Advantages and Disadvantages of Binary Options Trading ...
Binary Options: Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages and disadvantages of Binary Options Trading
Cloaked or Stealth Units?
Hi everyone! Since the Frost Giant announcement I have been super excited and keep turning ideas over in my head - probably the same as most of the people who might read this. In RTS games there are some mechanics/ideas which are optional to have in the game but are generally considered 'an RTS thing'. I was going to make one big dump of all my thoughts on these mechanics but then I thought it might be better to split them up into individual posts, to keep the discussion focused and allow it to be easier to find the discussion on a certain thing. I am talking about ideas like: High ground, air units, sea units, cloaked units, multiple building selection, global abilities, destructible terrain, how resources should work, etc etc etc. What does the community think about each one? Should they even be in the best RTS of all time? If so, then how will they work?
The current understanding we have of cloaked units is this:
Do not appear on the minimap when cloaked.
Either harder or impossible to see for the opposing player.
Not directly attack-able unless there is some form of detection being employed nearby.
Detection is binary and area-limited; a unit, ability or building detects in a radius around it, or it doesn't.
Based on these points, we can also say:
Have the potential to deal very high damage to the opposition if not detected and killed
Must be balanced in some other way, usually by high cost and fragility
With a new RTS, these points may of course be subject to change. Personally I think the binary nature of detection is one to think about. I think everything added to the game must add something unique and positive to gameplay. Do cloaked units add that? Here is what I think they bring to an RTS: More Complexity Cloaked units add another layer of complexity to the game. As the opposing player, the possibility of cloaked units plays a role in the decisions you make as you grow your army and base, and influences your scouting. Limiting Possibilities Some strategies are simply not viable in the meta given the existence of cloaked units. Usually these are the sillier ones. Base Defense If an enemy player's detection is mostly static, then it allows cloaked units to do well against an army encroaching on home turf. An example would be lurkers defending forward bases in BW ZvT, or a Protoss warping in defensive DTs in SC2. Comeback Mechanic If one player is beating the other player in most aspects of the game, such as map control, army size, wealth, then the opposing player can make a comeback if that player has forgotten to also build detection. Defense mechanism for otherwise fragile specialist unit There are some units have seen in RTS that could not perform their function without being stealthed, or radically changed in concept so as to have much higher health. Something like the shade in WC3, the observer in Starcraft or even something like an SC2 Ghost launching a nuke on a non-forward base. Surprise Motherf###er! The surprise or ambush mechanic is a fun one, especially to watch. Lurkers lying in wait, or burrowed banelings are great moments of tension and excitement in Starcraft matches.
Even after all these points in their favour, I still don't like them! I think the mechanic of having detection vs not having detection is too black and white. There are no other interactions in RTS like this. Even if you take a one-sided fight such as marines vs collosus, or archers vs mangonel there is still room for skillful on the disadvantaged side to bring about a victory through superior unit control. I think Artosis would agree with me that there is nothing more frustrating than doing 99 things right, but one thing "wrong" (or skipping, for economy) and then losing to invisible men in the base. If they were implemented, I would prefer a diluted version such as limited to scouting units, or the Zerg-style burrow; the unit is stealthed but pays by giving up the ability to move. A similar trade off could be a unit which is stealthed until it attacks, similar to how some stealthed MOBA characters work. What do you guys think?
SNAP preview, expected move and spread strike selection
Snap (SNAP) reports q2 earnings after the close Tuesday (~4:10pm)
Options are pricing an expected move of 12% by this Friday. That is the bulk of the move expected over the next month, which is about 15%.
Snap closed higher by about 36% in the day following its most recent earnings (in April)
Snap has beaten consensus estimates 7 out of the last 8 times.
https://preview.redd.it/d5e4r4ho28c51.png?width=583&format=png&auto=webp&s=9790a1e378ed329c5d66910d814093260814f70d Neutral - The first thing to look at is a neutral position, selling to both the bulls and the bears. Here are two neutral trades setting breakevens at or near the expected move. First selling the +21.5/-22.5/-28/+29 Iron Condor(condor chart) In this case the risk reward is $56 to make $44. If the stock closes anywhere between 22.5 and 28 on Friday it is a max gain. Any close beyond 21.5 or 29 and a max loss. The breakeven is 22.06 on the downside and 28.44 on the upside. That trade establishes a range of max profit, for those targeting no move at all, with the stock remaining at 25 selling an Iron Butterfly has max profit at the 25 level with profits trailing off towards the expected move and losses beyond: Fly chart Both of these trades are binary, isolating this week and what is likely to be a mostly one day move tomorrow. Bullish - For those thinking directionally the expected move can be used to help determine strike selection. Here's a bullish price target looking out a bit further in time, to August expiration: Trade comparison. In this case both the August long call spread (+25/-29) and the August short put spread (-25/+21) take advantage of multi leg strike selection based on the expected move. The short put spread is "selling to the bears" and is profitable from 22.57 and higher with a max gain if the stock is above 25 on August expiration. The long call spread has a higher breakeven, but by selling the 29 call at a high upside volatility, is much cheaper than an outright 25 call. Bearish - The same is true for a bearish target in line with the expected move but the short call spread is at a slight disadvantage due to having to buy the upside call at a similar or higher IV than the at the money call sale: Trade comparison Full post here.
Where’s the best place to live in light of collapse?
Ok we are 323 comments in on the collapse post and 98% didn’t bother to make even a slightly thoughtful answer. So... i guess i will be the change i want to see in the world First off, If you are the fatalistic nihlistic type you can just go where you think it will be nice to die, maybe that is with friends and family, maybe it is on a beach in mexico, or feeding your body to the last polar bear. For everyone else that still has the instinct and drive for self-preservation….
What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse?
First let's question the question.
What difference does it make to know "What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse"? The answer is dependent upon your own personal situation. Your personal situation has limiting factors.
Imagine you are a goat herder in Somalia during a multi year drought and there is no grass for feeding your animals. You have to sell them for dirt cheap because everyone else is also trying to sell off everything they can to get money thus depressing the goat prices further. Now the price of food is skyrocketing because there is no grass and the farmers crops failed, everyone is trying to buy up a hoard of food because everyone knows it is going to be a hard year. You manage to get the equivalent of $120USD in cash after selling practically everything you own but held onto one breeding pair of your healthiest goats you plan to use to regain a livelihood after the drought is over.
Imagine you are a billionaire with a fueled up superyacht, a helicopter, and a private plane. You have practically unlimited money, friends who are rich and connected in other countries, and a whole slew of passports, visas, and secondary citizenships, all else failing you can buy citizenships in most countries for less than $2million investment and pay a teams of specialists to expedite the process.
Your personal Limiting Factors constrain you usually somewhere between those extremes, everyone has different options. If we assume you are asking the question "What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse" because you want to have the best standard of living available for as long as possible or simply survive the incoming population bottleneck, then the practical question becomes ...
"What are the best places to be, leading up to or during collapse, that i can get to, and establish myself in such a way that I can maintain the best standard of living possible for as long as I can or simply increase my probability of surviving the incoming population bottleneck."
It is important to ask this question to constrain the search space to the possible. It makes fuck-all difference if a somali goat herder knows about the ToP SeCret ElitE mULtibiLLioNaIre New ZEaLand sOUth IsLaNd ReDoUbt BuNkeR CoMmUnITy It is not going to help him and should not be in the search space as a survival strategy. TL:DR Constrain your search space to what is realistically achievable for you.
Start with your baseline probability of survival and increase it.
Don't let a search for "best place" stop you from achieving "good enough place" or "better than where i was previously place".
You are just trying to be an early adopter of increasing your survival probability stats before the non collapse-pilled masses.
Think of surviving bottlenecks like surviving a charging bear attack, you don't need to be able to outrun the bear, you only need to be able to outrun the slowest people in the group up to the point the bear's appetite is satiated.
What are the best places to be, leading up to or during collapse, that i can get to, and establish myself in such a way that I can maintain the best standard of living possible for as long as I can or simply increase my probability of surviving the incoming population bottleneck."
Ok now lets question the new question some more...
In order to answer this we need to untangle some of the subjective and objective elements. The objective elements of human survival are well known.
Optimizing location is a series of subjective trade-offs. There is no perfect place, they all have advantages and disadvantages. So you must decide your personal preference of which goods and bads you most desire and what your scenario expectations are of the future. Your personal preferences and collapse expectations mean the “best area” is specific to you. What you can achieve and what do you desire, find the overlap between the two, then do research to find the place that gives you the most goods with the least bads and increases your probability of survival and standard of living. One of the best strategies is to adapt yourself to your local circumstances to take advantage of the advantages, and plan ahead to mitigate the disadvantages, it is really all most people can do for themselves. Do you like not living in unbearable heat, maybe moving to greenland is NOT a better option than just buying 400watts of solar panels and attaching it to a small efficient AC that keeps one room of your house cool even during summer electricity blackouts. Most problems have multiple solutions, it is worth it to take time and think about things from an economic perspective and different time horizon perspectives. Increasing your optionality is better than narrowing it when it comes to survival, rather than the binary thinking, of “go way out into the northern mountains, farm and live in a bunker” versus “be a full time yuppie and ignore collapse issues”. Getting 2 acres you can put a cheap used rv camper on and go do permaculture on during weekends, near enough your place of employment/where you live, is probably a better plan. Indeed the small dacha’s and country gardens helped many people survive the collapse of the USSR. They would spend weekends and haul potatoes/veggies back to the city with them on the bus. Hedge your bets to cover the most scenarios including the most likely scenarios like losing your job or getting in a car accident. Survival and thriving always has and always will involve dynamic adaptation. Here is a very short list of some of potential trade-offs that you may need to think about and some brief descriptions of how they can affect things. This is NOT meant to be a systematic or exhaustive analysis, this is just me stream-of-conscious flowing on strong coffee to help others start thinking about it for themselves. There are unlimited variables
Hot versus cold
A lot of people in the forum think they it is somehow optimal for them to move to canada or greenland. Someone in eastern kansas moving to canada is not necessary, remember even in RCP8.5 business as usual scenario kansas by the end of the century still won’t be as hot as texas is currently. If there are already people living in hotter dryer areas now, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pack up your shit and move to the arctic, just enjoy the longer summers. At least base it on something scientific like the expectation of when that area will cross the 35C wetbulb survivability threshold, so if you live in Bandar Mahshahr then yes move somewhere else now is time.
Do you have children?
Moving somewhere may not be needed if you can live out your expected natural lifespan before things get too bad, especially with the climate. If you have children you may want to move to account for the expectations during their future lifetimes.
Wet versus dry
Wet places usually have more disease and insect loads for people and crops. In dry places it is harder to raise food, net primary productivity is usually lower, except where irrigation is available but there are usually less pests including plant fungal diseases like powdery mildew. There are Europeans living in certain parts of africa whom can only inhabit those areas currently because of antimalarial drugs, pesticides and mosquito nets. The native populations are full of people heterozygous for sickle cell which gives them resistance/immunity to the malaria, just a long view consideration.
Seasonality of rainfall
if you get all your rainfall in the summer you usually live in a region where the muggy wetbulb temps are higher and will be getting higher. You are more likely to get floods during the growing season. If you get rainfall mainly in the winter like mediteranean climates you will usually have dry summers with low humidity so deadly wetbulb temps should not be a problem but maintaining summer vegetables requires irrigation. If using rainfed agriculture you will have different crop choices, which areas grow the types of food you like?
Sunny versus overcast
Sunny areas are great for some dark skinned people and needed for vitamin D production in post collapse scenarios unless you have a good dietary source, black people in dim areas get Vitamin D deficiency diseases like rickets and have higher mortality in a hard enough crash. Gecko skinned gingers thrive better in overcast areas. Lots of people currently exist in environments they are biologically maladapted to, they are only able to live there because of modern fortified foods/supplements and medical care. Bright sunlight destroys folate (needed for reproduction) in pale people and causes skin cancer. Some people get S.A.D. and commit suicide in the gloomy winters of the pacific northwest USA. Just because a place is good in lots of other ways, you should not consider it if it will leave suicidal.
Growing season, long versus short
Long growing season usually means more heat for longer, more times to grow crops but usually less optimal conditions. Short seasons means you have to compress a lot more work in a shorter amount of time. It also means trees grow slower and growing your own fuel supply takes more land footprint while you simultaneously need more heating fuel. Places like iowa have moderate/short growing season but the high lattitude makes for long daylength which increases productivity during the moderate/short growing season. Rainfall is concentrated during the summer and soils highly fertile but it is practically one giant biocide saturated monoculture of death. It doesn’t matter if the you live in a fecund area if your future children die of bluebaby syndrome from the nitrate pollution in the well-water or end up mentally retarded from the chlorpyrifos spray drift bioaccumulating and destroying neural development in utero.
Let's be real here, most of you need to have employment to live, even as things crumble in a slow crash the vast majority will be dependent on employment and purchasing in the marketplace that which they need for subsistence. Cities are almost always better for employment. Keep in mind recently and historically, even prior to the industrial revolution, people were more often moving to cities to escape collapse scenarios in real life. You can look at africa and the middle east today. The reason is the city with its dense network effects can command food from a diversity of sources and the economics incentivize shipping surplus to cities. In times where the economics don't incentivize it governments usually seize it and send it to the cities. There is lots of historical precedent showing this, despite the general ruralist zeitgiest among collapsniks thinking that they need a homestead in the country. Employment or entitlements has been and will be the primary way people meet subsistence needs even in most collapse scenarios. Even in 3rd world areas that are experiencing famines, war, full infrastructure breakdown and conditions that are equivalent to 1st worlder visions of total collapse, people still wake up, go to work pulling weeds for the local land baron, get paid and then go buy a bowl of millet from the store.
High versus low wages.
some areas have low wages but this can come with benefits like low cost of living and people being pre-adapted to living through cooperative social behaviors and "ghetto rigging" improvisation. Last time i was in some shithole parts of arkansas i noticed just about every rural person had a decent sized garden, more than any other state i've been to. They feel compelled to share unlike some high-income places where people are clawing for money to pay rents or status seeking in a dog eat dog competitive environment. I have lived in quite a few homeless encampments and one thing that surprises people is how everyone gives away all surplus among each other, this is a paleolithic variance smoothing strategy, it is supernaturally effective and feels natural once you do it. I see it re-evolve over and over in poor people.
Education levels and sociability of the population
Is the area culturally acceptable to you? Are you acceptable to the people of the area?
There are places that may have all sorts of good qualities but they are filled with ignorant racist meth head bible belt sociopaths who will torment you out of sheer boredom. Some places get full of these people and they reinforce the ignorance and shittiness into a dominant culture that you will be fighting against if you move there. When moving to a place where you are an outsider and the community is hostile to allowing assimilation that can reduce your survival odds. See various historical genocides.
Distance from food sources
Being close to a food source like right on a farm you grow on is great but if you have crop failure you may have no draw to bring in the food. Distance should be measured multiple ways including the strength and reliability of the transportation networks and the energetic distance for transport in energy descent scenarios. Think of the number of connections in the network you can draw from. In a city there are many stores each store sourcing from thousands of farmers, if a few farmers or stores fail there are still plenty of options. Some small rural towns depopulate once the single local walmart closes. Do you trust the local weather and your own potential self sufficiency more than markets/entitlements and transport resilience? Across what scenarios and time spans?
Legal rights and entitlements availability
Solid legal rights and strong property law is great if you are part of the ownership class but when you are dispossessed, lack of legal enforcement can give you a higher standard of living because you can build shelter and do side hustles things without having "the man" come slap you down. In a place like western Europe you may have recourse to welfare entitlements and unemployment insurance payments to buy food in financial crashes and slow crash scenarios, in some countries things like this are not available, this is more important than most people think. Indeed most recent famines occur where food is present but people just have no way to buy it because they are brokeAF, you don't see rich people in those areas starving.
Water flows towards money. Just because there is a stream nearby doesn't mean you will be able to take water from it, you may need water rights while government is still able to enforce such edicts. Alternatively you may have impeccable senior water rights but the government enforcement is defunded and someone with zero water rights is upstream from you sucking the entire creek dry during a crash. Rainfall vs irrigation. rainfall allows a form of independence but having reliable irrigation can smooth out catastrophic variance in rain shortfalls. Don’t forget irrigation management was a major factor in the formation of early oppressive states.
Even prior to the industrial revolution, in cities that had Sea Ports, the population in those cities had higher survival rates than those living in the countryside during famines. Transportation is critical. More transportation modes plane, train, automobile, bikepaths, all different roads, rails, canals, rivers etc. These transports allow goods to flow, which generally helps satisfy regional shortages. Some people judge the main threat to be people taking what they have, usually it is governments doing the taking in the historical record but many are concerned with mythical hordes. If you subscribe to this paranoia about people robbing your homestead you may enjoy being as minimally connected as possible to the transport system. You must determine based on your own preferences and expectations. Good transport is a double edged sword, it means food/resources can also be shipped out of your area towards money/powerful people, remember ownership norms and enforcement rarely disappear during collapse-like periods, indeed the ownership class still sends supplies to the highest bidder which may not be you, see Irish Gorta Mor for example.
In places like london way back when they still burned wood as cooking and heating fuel there were estates just outside the city that were highly organized coppice producers that fueled the city. Wood is heavy and only so much could be carried in a cartload considering they relied on animal traction. There was a distance where bringing the wood to london to sell would not make you any money even despite you getting wood for free because the cost of the journey feeding yourself and animal took the entire value of the wood. These effects are worth thinking about across different transport scenarios. Assets become stranded and likewise things can become uneconomical to ship to you when you need things produced in the city. The wood producing estates outside london were well off financially and smaller estate size could provide higher income than the much more distant estates that were an order of magnitude larger. Transport matters, markets and trade continue to exist in practically every collapse and even in supermax prisons, expect to use markets as a survival strategy, it is more likely than you living some isolated mountain man scenario.
(the older a soil is geologically X how much rainfall it gets) is what generally determines how fertile it is. The best soils are those that are relatively new and have been subjected to just enough rainfall to match the evapotranspiration rate, this minimizes nutrients leaching out, these are the mollisols/chernozems of the prairies. Because the water is just-enough in those zones they are also right at the edge where they can have major droughts with even slightly less rainfall. Wetter areas generally have less inherent soil fertility because of more leaching of nutrients but have more room for rainfall variability without plants meeting water deficiency.
your social ties family friends locations
Having a positive social environment with people you love while just getting by, is better than doing well financially and being socially isolated, for most people. Don’t abandon good family and friends if you can avoid it, it is usually not worth it. “Social capital” has always been a key to human flourishing. Many people in the collapse of the USSR survived on “blat”, not by relocating. A real world social network for altruistic reciprocity is a survival tool.
Proximity to imperialist countries with militaries that may want/need your resources for themselves or their people
Places like ukraine, some of the best farmland in the world, a country may seem optimal in many ways but historically this advantage was noted by outsiders and it has been at the crossroads of empires which means they suffered tremendously in war. The devastation of war and imperialism negated much of the natural benefits of the area when it comes to survival rates. This is something to consider. In parts of africa there is more conflict in abundant zones with more food, outside of famine zones because paramilitaries are supported from the land there and controlling the food supply is used as weapon of political power. Concentration of resources can make areas more dangerous, it makes attacking them economical.
This FAQ represents Q&A's over the last few days here. Fellow redditor u/iterateandgit was so kind to help me putting this document together. Big shout out to him please! The FAQ will be further extended over the coming days and weeks. Please keep the questions coming!
Sales, Shipping, Warranty
Q: Are you going to sell this on Amazon in the EU? A: We are working on getting the product up and running on Amazon. But our own BTO shop at www.bestware.com will always be our primary sales channel and will be the only one where you can customize and configure memory, storage, OS, extend your warranty and pick other options. Q: Do you offer student discounts or other sales compaigns like black friday? A: In general, we don't offer student discounts. Sales campaigns are planned just in time, depending on stock level and cannot be announced early. If you want to keep up to date about sales campaigns, please subscribe to our newsletter. Q: Do you ship to the UK? Can I pay in GBP? A: We ship to the UK - the pricing will be in EUR, so your bank will do the conversion. Warranty services will be available from UK, shipping to Germany. Currently, in the single markets, these resturn shipments are free for the end-user. In the worst case there might be additional customs fees for shipping. Q: What warranty options do you offer? A: All our laptops come with 2 year warranty. Warranty repairs in the first 6 months are promised to be done within 48 hours (+shipping). Both the "instant repair" service and the warranty itself can be extended to up to 3 years. Q: Do you sell outside of Europe? A: We are able to ship anywhere, but warranty for customers outside the region would always involve additional customs cost and paperwork for sending the laptop back to Germany in the rare event of an RMA. There is currently no agreement to let other Local OEMs (like Eluktronics in the US) carry the warranty for XMG customers and vice-versa. Some parts are customized (in our case the LCD lid and the keyboard) and it won't be easy to agree on how to share handling fees etc. - so I wouldn't expect a global warranty anytime soon.
Hardware, Specs, Thermals
Q: What is the difference between XMG FUSION 15 and other laptops based on Intel's reference design? A: The hardware of the barebone will be identical. Other Local OEMs might use different parts for RAM and SSDs. Our branding and service/warranty options might be different. We apply our own set of performance profiles in the Control Center. This will rebalance the differentiation between Silent, Balanced and Enthusiast modes. Q: What is the TGP of the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q? A: Officially, it is 80W in Balanced profile and 90W in Enthusiast profile. You can toggle between these modes in real-time with a dedicated mode switch button. Inofficially, the TGP can go up to 115W in Enthusiast profile thanks to the Overboost mechanic, working in the background. However, those 115W may only be sustained until the system has reached thermal saturation, i.e. when the GPU is approaching the GPU Temperature Target of 75°C. Q: Can I upgrade the storage and memory after I buy? A: On storage: The laptop has two m.2 PCI-Express SSD slots. This will give you currently up to 4 TB of SSD storage. There is no 2.5" HDD slot available. Instead, the battery is enlarged to 93.48Wh. You can see pictures of the interior layouts here, here and here. On memory: the laptop has two SO-DIMM DDR4 memory sockets. You can chose during BTO configuration, if you want to occupy both of them when you order the product. We recommend running the laptop in Dual Channel for high-performance usage. Q: How easy is to upgrade and repair this laptop? A: Here are the key facts:
Only 10 chassis screws on the bottom plate.
All chassis screws are identical size and length. (no risk of mixing them up during re-assembly)
All chassis screws are directly exposed, not behind any rubber feet.
No "warranty void if seal is broken" stickers.
Bottom case can be removed very easily without any prying opening tools.
Keyboard does not need to be removed to access internals.
m.2 screws are already in their socket.
Battery is attached with screws, not glued.
Fans can be cleaned and (if needed) replaced without removing the heatpipes.
We would give this a solid 8 out of 10 which is pretty high for such a thin&light design. The 2 remaining points are substracted for BGA CPU and GPU, which is unfortunately unavoidable in such a thin design. Q: Does it support Windows Hello? A: A Fingerprint-Reader is not available, but the HD webcam comes with Infrared and supports Windows Hello. Q: Can I get a smaller, lighter charger for this laptop? A: XMG FUSION 15 requires a 230W power adaptor to provide full performance. If you max out CPU and GPU with furmark and prime, the 230W adapter will be fully utilized. There are currently two compatible 230W adapters. They have different dimensions but similar weight. Please refer to this comparison table: XMG FUSION 15 Power Supply Comparsion Table (Google Drive) Includes shop links. Will be updated with precise weight numbers in the next few days. I also included 120W, 150W and 180W in this table. They all share the same plug (5.5/2.5,, diameter, 12.5mm length). But 120W and 150W are only rated for 19V but the laptop expect 19.5V. Usually this will be compensated by tolerance but we haven't tested how a system would behave under long-term usage with such an adaptor. In theory, 120W to 180W are enough for charing the laptop and for browsing/web/media. Even a full CPU stress test could easily be handled. But as soon as you use CPU and GPU together, you'll run into the bottleneck and your performance will be reduced. Comparison pictures:
These 5 pictures show only the relevant 230W chargers.
Top: 230W Chicony A17-230P1A for XMG NEO.
Bottom: 230W FSP230-AJAN3 from XMG FUSION 15 (Intel Original)
Again, the weight is about the same. Q: Is it possible to boot and run the laptop while the lid is kept closed? A: Closing the lid under load is not recommended because it will limit the airflow and have a bad effect on keyboard and screen. The laptop likes to take air in from the keycaps. With lid closed, the performance might be limited due to reaching temp targets earlier. Q: Can I get the laptop without the XMG logo? I will be using it in public presentations and I would not like any brand names visible. A: We cannot ship without XMG logo, but you can use a dbrand skins to cover our logo. We have not yet decided if we want to invest into integrating XMG FUSION 15 into the dbrand shop. But you can already buy 100% compatible skins by using the page of the Eluktronics MAG-15 at dbrand. The chassis dimensions are exactly the same. Please be aware: you have to manually select the option "No Logo Cutout" if you want to buy these skins for your XMG FUSION 15. According to dbrand, there will be most likely no import fees when ordering from the EU as long as the order is below 100€. Check this thread for details. Q: Will you offer thermal paste upgrades like Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut or Liquid Metal? A: Our ODMs are using silicon-based, high-performance thermal compund from international manufacturers like Shin-Etsu (Japan) and M.G. (USA). Intel is using MG-860 in this reference design. These products are used in the industrial sector, so they have no publicly known brand name. Nevertheless, their high thermal conductivity and guaranteed durability provide optimal and long-lasting cooling of your high-performance laptop. The thermal compounds are applied and sealed automatically by the vendor of the thermal components. They are applied in a highly controlled, standardized manner and provide the best balance of thermal performance, production tolerance and product lifetime. We are considering offering an upgrade to Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut due to popular demand. Will keep you posted on that. Q: Could you please provide an estimate for how much regular usage (~10 browser tabs + some IDE) battery backup would this have? Will there be any way to trade-off battery backup with performance? A: Battery life vs. peak performance can be traded off by using the "Silent" performance profile. You can switch between profiles using a dedicated button on the machine. Your scenario (10 tabs + some IDE) sounds like mostly reading and writing. I would estimate to get at least 7 hours of solid battery life in such a scenario, maybe more. We have achieved 8 hours in 1080p Youtube streaming on WiFi with 50% screen brightness. Adblock and NoScript helps to keep your idle browser tabs in check.
I/O Ports, Peripherals
Q: Why are there not more USB-A 3.1 Gen2 or even USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports? A: USB-A 3.1 Gen1 is basically the same as USB 3.0. There aren't a lot of USB-A devices that support more than USB 3.0 speed. Faster devices typically use USB-C connectors and can be used on Thunderbolt 3, which is down-compatible to USB-C 3.1 Gen2. One of the USB-A ports actually supports Gen2 speed. For the following remarks, please keep in mind that I am not an Intel rep, so everything is based on our own experience. The mainboard design and the I/O port decisions have been made by Intel. Feedback and requests from LOEM customers have been taken into consideration. We would assume that USB 3.2. Gen2x2 (20 Gbit/s) was not considered to be important enough to safe space for 3rd party IC (integrated circuits) on the motherboard. Right now, all the USB ports and Thunderbolts are supplied by Intel's own IC, so they have full control over the hardware, firmware and driver stack and over power saving and performance control. The more IC you add, the higher your Idle power consumption will be, plus adding potential compatibility or speed issues as it often happens with 1st generation 3rd party USB implementations. I very well remember from my own experience the support stories during the first years of USB 3.0, before it was supported in the Intel chipset. On the one hand, Intel is aiming high in terms of performance and convenience, on the other hand: support and reliability still seem to be Intel's goal #1. Thus they seem to play it safe where they deem it to be reasonable. Intel is gearing up for USB 4.0 and next-gen Thunderbolt. USB 3.2 2x2 is probably treated as little more than a roadmap accident. Peripheral vendors might see it the same way. Q: Do you support charging over USB-C/Thunderbolt? Does it support docking stations? A: The Thunderbolt 3 port in Intel's reference design does not support charging. As you probably know, the 100W limit would not be enough to power the whole system and it would make the mainboard more complex to combine two different ways of charging. Intel consciously opted against it and will probably do so again on future high-end gaming/studio models. The USB-C/Thunderbolt port supports Dual-Link DisplayPort signals, directly connected to the NVIDIA Graphics. This makes proper docking station usage very convenient. The user still needs to connect the external power adaptor. Both ports (Thunderbolt and DC-in) are in the back of the laptop, making the whole setup appear very neat on the desk. Q: How many PCIe lanes does the Thunderbolt 3 provide? Are they connected to CPU or Chipset? A: XMG FUSION 15 supports Thunderbolt 3 with 4 lanes of PCIe 3.0. The lanes come from the chipset because all of the CPU lanes (x16) are fully occupied by the dedicated NVIDIA graphics. We are not aware of any side-effects of running Thunderbolt from the chipset. It is common practice for high-end laptops with high-end graphics. The Thunderbolt solution is of course fully validated and certified by Intel's Thunderbolt labs. Q: Does it have a standby USB to power USB devices without turning on the laptop? A: Yes, the USB-A port on the left side supports this feature.
Q: Which LCD panel is being used? Are there plans for 1440p or 4K panels in the laptop? How about PWM flickering? A: The panel is BOE NV156FHM-N4G. It is currently not known if the panel will change in later batches. This depends on logistics and stock. At any rate, the panel key specs will remain the same. There are currently no plans to offer resolutions above FHD in the current generation of this laptop. There are very wide ranges on reports of Backlight Brightness PWM control on this panel in different laptops. Ranging from 200Hz to 1000Hz to no PWM at all - all on the same panel model number. Intel informs us that there are many factors (e.g. freq., display driver, BIOS settings implementation, type of dimmers & compatibility with the driver etc.) that impacts the quality of panel dimming performance. To Intel's knowledge, no kind of flickering has been reported during the validation process. Furthermore, first hands-on data from Notebookcheck indicates that no PWM occurs on this panel. With a DSLR test (multiple burst shots at 1/4000s exposure time) I can confirm that there is not a single frame of brightness dipping or black screen, not even at minimum LCD brightness. Hence, we can confirm: BOE NV156FHM-N4G in XMG FUSION 15 (with Intel) does not use PWM for backlight control. Q: Some BTO shops, for an additional fee, manually pick out display panels with the least back-light bleed. Do you offer that? Even better, do you do that without the extra fee? A: Intel has validated this design to avoid backlight bleed as much as possible. Currently no plans to do further binning. All dozens of MP samples we have seen so far have been exceptionally good. Q: I'm coming from a 13" MacBook with Retina display. How am I going to fare with this 15.6" FHD screen in content creation? A: If you got used to editing high-res visual content (photography, artwork) on your 13inch retina, things will change. On the one hand, your canvas will be larger and more convenient and ergonomic to work with. On the other hand, you will find yourself zooming in more often in order to make out fine-detail. Assuming that you have sharp 20:20 vision. As it is, the screen resolution and specs are not planned to change within the lifetime of this product. The first realistic time-window for a refresh would be whenever Intel is releasing the next "H" series CPU generation. But even then, an upgrade on resolution will not be guaranteed. Comparison:
Pixel per inch
13.3" MacBook Pro Retina (late 2013)
15.6" XMG FUSION 15 (late 2019)
To compare: 141.21 is ~62% from 226.98. This represents the the metric difference in pixel density and peak sharpness between these two models. If you know the diagonal size and resolution of your screen, you can make this comparison yourself with the DPI/PPI calculator.
Keyboard, Backlight, Switches, Layout
Q: What can you tell us about the mechanical keyboard of XMG FUSION 15? A: The keyboard has already been reviewed in our XMG NEO series as being more crisp than typical membrane keyboards. Most reviewers attested it a very good score, both for gaming and for writing long texts. The keyboard backlight can be configured per-key. Default mode is all white. Keyboard Switch Specs:
2mm travel distance
60g actuation force
1000Hz polling frequency
Rated for up to 20 million keystrokes
Having no frame around the keycaps actually helps the thermals. The fans can pull in additional air from the top. This improves airflow and helps to keep the keyboard temperature at low levels during gaming. It also prevents long-term RMA issues on the keyboard. This specific keyboard switch is already in its 3rd generation and very mature by now. Q: Is it possible to dampen the mechanical keyboard with o-rings? A: The switch design does not lend itself to further dampening. The switch mechanic is too complex and has more moving parts than cherry. The 2mm travel distance also plays a role in not allowing more dampening. For reference, please use this video (Youtube). We compared XMG NEO with another membrane-type keyboard. XMG NEO and FUSION share the same keyboard mechanics with the silent tactile switch and the same sound profile. Q: Do you have LED keyboard backlight on the secondary key function, like Fn key icons? A: Please have a look at this picture.
Taken with full keyboard backlight brightness
In totally dark room
Edited in Lightroom (reduced highlights) to reflect the way it really looks to the human eye
F10 seems to have a slightly different color temperature than F8/F9 in this picture. This is due to the angle, open aperature and chromatic abberation of my camera. In real-life, all per-key LEDs behave identically to one another.
Btw, my working sample has blank keycaps. I took the 3 printed keycaps (F8, F9, F10) from a different sample just to demonstrate the Fn lighting for this picture. Facts:
Fn modifier key is on the left between Ctrl and WinKey
the Fn function don't have seperate backlight, but they benefit from the main per-key backlight
the position of the LED is centered above the mechanical switch. That's why the upper portion of the key is brighter than the lower portion. That's why in our layout, the primary function of each key is always located at the center top.
In my assesment, the Fn function symbols are clearly visible from the backlight in a dark room. A user should have no difficulty to recognize the icon and reach its function. Q: Which keyboard layouts do you offer in the EU? A: The following layouts are available, in alphabetic order: Belgium, Czech, Danish, Dvorak German, Dvorak US, Estonia, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish for Typists, Portuguese, Russia Latin, Slovakish, Spanish, Swedish / Finnish, Swiss, Turkish, UK, US International (ISO)All these layouts are based on the ISO matrix. See differences between ANSI vs. ISO here.
Q: Do you support Linux and dual-boot on XMG FUSION 15? A: We are in discussion to sell XMG FUSION 15 over Tuxedo with official Linux support. It might take 1 or 2 months to get this running. Q: Which LAN, Audio and WiFi card vendors will be used? Asking for a friend. A: From our HWiNFO64 report. (Google Drive link) LAN: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 [PCI\VEN_10EC&DEV_8168&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_15]Audio: Intel(R) Smart Sound Technology (Intel(R) SST) Audio Controller [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_A348&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_10]WiFi: Intel(R) Wi-Fi 6 AX200 [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2723&SUBSYS_00848086&REV_1A], can be replaced. For more information, please check the linked report file.
Q: What would you say are the advantages and differences with other laptops due to the fact the laptop was designed in collaboration with Intel? A: Disclaimer: I am \not* an Intel rep. The following remarks are based on my personal experience and opinion.* Advantages:
Very strict quality control on all levels. I can't quote numbers due to NDA, but Intel NUC has extremely low RMA rates, compared to average PC mainboards and systems. Intel is driven by strict internal regulation that strifes for perfection - this applies to the whole chassis, assembly and firmware, not only the mainboard. There are also certain regulations in place, for example in terms of electro-magnetic regulation and skin temperatures. The rating label is littered with regulatory seals from every region of the world, making this laptop especially safe to use.
Access to high-quality material: we have not seen any Gaming Laptops based on Magnesium alloy yet, especially not in the ODM/LOEM ecosystem. The battery cells are also much more dense than what we usually see. Intel has the buying power and the vision to not settle for mediocre parts.
Down-to-earth design: Intel has made this reference design for the ODM/LOEM eco-system. The design does not try to follow any specific corporate identity, thus it does not have any unneccessary "bling bling" like all the others have. Even the Razer Blade with it's sleek shape is quite obnoxious (iny my oppinion) with it's big backlit green snake logo. With XMG FUSION however, we can continue our typical style of "Undercover Gaming".
Security: you can expect stellar support in terms of BIOS and Firmware (TPM, Management Engine) updates whenever any security issues are found. This might also apply to global brands, but ODM/LOEM systems have not always been so quick to react. This is due to the huge fragmentation/customizations in ODM/LOEM systems. Intel however does now allow any fragmentation: every LOEM partner is getting the same firmware. There are many hooks for configurations in this firmware, but the source code / binaries are always the same. This makes support much easier down the line.
I can't name many, of course. But I would say the strict validation also makes the partnership less flexible from a product management perspective. There is no plan currently to phase-in any 4K or 300Hz screen (FHD/144Hz ought to be enough for everyone this year) or any Core i9 in this system. Other ODMs might be more open for costly modifications based on low quantities. Intel however has streamlined their production and logistics in a way that gives us (the LOEM) very short lead times and competitive pricing, but will not allow any short-notice upgrades or customizations.
Q: Will there be a 17 inch version? A: We can neither confirm nor deny plans for a 17 inch version at this point. [to be continued]
Before we begin: what do you think Betrayal would and should look like as a core game mechanic? What expectations do you have for it? In addition, try to think of what Betrayal's place would be in the game were it simply implemented exactly as is, but somewhat less common than it is at the moment because it will compete with other masters for appearances (assuming they're mutually exclusive). PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS:
"Core" league vs "current" league
Betrayal Safehouse loot is bad and so is low-level farming
Betrayal does not scale well with area level
Betrayal Veiled items are bad but not that bad
Manipulating the Syndicate feels bad
It feels bad to walk away from Betrayal encounters
"Core" league vs "current" league Description of problem: This isn't actually a problem, just a byproduct of GGG's league design. I decided to talk about this at the very start to differentiate between two things: How GGG "should" design a current league and how GGG should adapt that league into core content. The league's content is stretched to last for three months, and since the encounter rate is high, the rewards are correspondingly miniscule. Content that is now core has a relatively lower encounter rate, but the rewards are larger per encounter (but still small to make up for the fact that content has been cumulative for years on end, lending to how crazy maps can get). Since temporary leagues have long been the de facto "way" of playing the game, people seem to have forgotten GGG's disclaimers that temporary league balance has a high likelihood of being off. GGG rarely hits out of the park on the first try, but they have a history of nailing it the next time around. Invasion was nerfed, Necrovigil and Phylacteral Link were removed, Order of the Frozen Sky isn't horrific anymore, Malachai was nerfed, Bestiary was fixed, Betrayal's bugs were (eventually) fixed, and so forth. I have faith that GGG will do what's right and I'm looking forward to what GGG will do with a "core" Betrayal because the "league" Betrayal is already history at this point. We're already in the preliminary stages of the next round of new league hypebuilding. Betrayal Safehouse loot is bad and so is low-level farming Description of problem: At the core of ARPGs, everything comes back to loot. We're not helping Zana because we care; we want to snatch the eyes right out of Uber Elder's writhing head. This talk will be split into two parts: Safehouses and Veiled items. Let's start with Safehouses. Here is a graphic of all Betrayal rewards and how I have personally ranked them, according to their value within BSC and the opportunity cost of putting a member in one branch and not another. Some of these could be shifted around according to one's preferences (some people don't want to deal with Guff's benches, other people don't value Cameria's legacy Uniques because the chances of getting something good are too low, etc). But this is a rough guide for what most players will see when they get Safehouse loot.
Total # of possible rewards: 68
# of good rewards: 15
# of middling rewards: 16
# of bad rewards: 37
# of level-scaled rewards: 15
# of good rewards scaled by level: 0
# of middling rewards scaled by level: 0
# of bad rewards scaled by level: 15
Let's talk about the three types of rewards I've delineated. The Good: GGG did well with the good rewards. Stuff like turning Rare amulets into Talismans (effectively solving Talisman's long-standing problem of being inferior Rare items because you could never control the explicit rolls), adding White sockets to any gear (not just craftable bases like Delve's Fractured Fossils), "free" Exalt slams, breaking the quality cap, and so forth. PoE is a character building game and giving players these kinds of small optimizations (on top of the big and risky stuff like double-corruption rooms) is precisely what separates the top builds on poe.ninja from the budget cookie-cutter stuff with inferior performance. In fact, I wouldn't mind them being at their current rarity level once they go core because that's just how strong they are. The Bad: Thing #1 is that it's okay for the Syndicate to have bad rewards. It would have happened regardless of design since even when all things are good, some things are relatively less good. Additionally, if everything was good in a generic and non-specific way, the Syndicate as a whole would lack flavor. For example, Leo gives Torment Scarabs because he's the Ghost of PvP Past and Tormented Spirits are about as fun and rewarding as PoE PvP in 2019. Jokes aside, it's also possible to mitigate the bad rewards by interrogating these people for intel in lieu of others because they don't matter anyways, unlike a 3* Cameria in Intervention. So we can't deny that Betrayal's got flavor. The bad news is that the flavor is "the juice that leaks out from the bottom of black garbage bags". Instead of "everything being good so nothing matters", we have "almost nothing is good, so only a few things matter". Really, I don't know what GGG was thinking when it came to some of Vagan, Haku, and Elreon's rewards. They literally drop less than a white unrolled map for all the effort that goes into making a Safehouse. Thing #2 is that there's too much "bad". Much of it could be converted to "middling" with some adjustment, which would make an undesirable safehouse outcome much less galling to swallow. Alternatively, many "bad" rewards would simply become less relevant if syndicate manipulation had more quality of life and less tedium. If Betrayal was simply dumped into the core game with a lower encounter rate right now, it would be frustrating to deal with and a mediocre gameplay experience as a result. The Middle: The middling rewards mostly relate to items you can get from other sources, like Fossils, Fragments, Essences, Currencies, Divination Cards, and Maps. In the case of Maps and anything to do with them, I think some of the devaluation can also be blamed on Pure Breachstones, which have inflated supply (The HarbingeBeachhead effect). The problem is simple: It is more efficient to obtain those items from other sources (including their original sources) than it is to farm the Syndicate for them. I'm not advocating for the reverse, because then only the Syndicate would be relevant content unless it was significantly gated. But as it stands, Korell's fossils are a joke because doing Delve for them is better. Stacks or spreads of random Divination cards are a joke because it's better to use a Divination Card scarab on a zone that actually gives the Divination card you want in a somewhat deterministic fashion (You know, the point of Divination cards); Gravicius ain't no Putrid Cloister. Fragments are better farmed from the trade website and twinned triple boss corrupted maps and currencies and uniques are better found simply by running a map. Betrayal does not scale well with area level: Oh boy, here we go. This. This right here. This is the reason why we were running Harbour Bridge and Foothills for the whole league. This is the reason why people were able to target-farm Pure Breachstones and pump out more than half the amount of level 100s in Standard (the cumulative history of the game) in a single league. If Betrayal's content and rewards had scaled more appropriately with area level, we could have had a league that excels in both low and high-level content, like Delve. So, you do easy stuff, you should get meh rewards. If you do hard stuff, you should get good rewards. One of the most fundamental ingrained ideas behind gaming design. What constitutes "hard stuff" can be difficult to describe at times since the layered content and occasional lack of visual clarity in PoE creates difficulty spikes and each build and player is challenged by different aspects of the game. But content design and controlled encounters can remove the possibility of difficulty spiking due to unexpected variables, which means Betrayal has less excuses for its ratio of difficulty to reward. You feel bored when you do hundreds of hours of monotonous low-level zones. You feel excited when something challenges you and forces you to upgrade your build and pay close attention to positioning and enemy patterns. You feel betrayed when hard content gives you bad loot and you feel annoyed when easy content gives you good loot because the game's design gives you a begrudging reason to do the tedious and easy content as opposed to the more varied difficult content. That's what Betrayal, as a league, was. If you look at the second row of my table above, you'll see that less than a fourth of all possible Safehouse rewards scale with area level. And all of them are "bad" outcomes. Arguably, Jorgin's "Aspect rares" are potentially middling because you could split them with a Bestiary recipe and get a craftable base in case you're not finding a Fenumal Hybrid Spider or a Farric whatever, thus enabling SSF builds. And that part of Jorgin is good because it gives a partially deterministic outcome. Here's the other commonality between all of these bad, level-scaling rewards: there are a lot of rare item outcomes. Hell, I didn't even read this thread, but it probably does an excellent job of explaining the numerous problems with rare items. As it stands, there is virtually no reason to do Betrayal in Tier 16 maps: you get plenty of risk, without a corresponding increase in reward. Proposed solutions to problem: The solution should be grounded in thinking about "where" Betrayal fits in the loot acquisition possibilities of the game as a whole. Delve, for example, is an all-rounded system with good scaling that bolsters Rare item crafting. Bestiary is mostly mid to end-game with respect to customizing flasks, obtaining random Unique items, and using obscure crafting techniques. Incursion falls into the same mold, with Alva's temples being the most influential as a supplement for early mapping (map drops within the Temple of Atzoatl) and for various powerful "crafting benches" and upgraded Incursion Uniques that are reserved for the elite (or ludicrously lucky) of Wraeclast. Bloodlines, Nemesis, Invasion, Beyond, Domination, and various other leagues are instance and enemy seasoning. What I mean when I say "where does Betrayal belong" is that Betrayal has a tremendous untapped niche that has been buried all along because of GGG's flawed reward distribution. This niche is "deterministic farming". Manipulating the Syndicate and targeting certain members in certain branches to get Harbinger Orbs to upgrade your stagnant map pool or getting crucial gem levels on your spells to get an extra power boost, that's what I'd really love to do. Betrayal could be like Divination cards 2.0 in giving mid to end-game players a solid process for obtaining otherwise obscure items and niche services that will really push their itemization to the next level while also giving lower-level players powerful Rare items and crafting options while leveling. Frankly, I have no idea what I'd want to make this happen, so this is just an idea at present. So what I'm suggesting will merely be tweaks on top of what exists at the moment rather than a radical overhaul to bring Betrayal more in line with something like Divination cards. The good rewards are fine and could even be a little rarer (especially to preserve the value and intrigue of those services). Especially Pure Breachstones. Look, I enjoy being level 100 as much as any of you guys, but it's a little ridiculous, right? That this single Safehouse outcome alone was so influential as to influence gem experience markets, map valuation, rare jewelry markets, build archetypes, and generate a majority of "the reason why people are running Harbour Bridge"? We know it, GGG knows it; it's going to be destroyed harder than CoC was in the past. The middling rewards are largely a ratio of reward against tedium and quantity. If GGG can balance this ratio, it'll just work. Make Betrayal less tedious to manipulate; more on that later. Make the currency-based rewards drop a guaranteed higher-tier currency of the respective type or a higher quantity of the lower tiers. Essences of Hysteria, Delirium, etc. Faceted and Hollow fossils. Divine and Annulment Orbs. Uber Atziri fragments. That's what we should be seeing once Betrayal goes core. Make quantity scale with the 3* mechanic and make quality scale with area level, because a level 60 3* Syndicate member is far less dangerous than a level 83 1* Syndicate member. The bad rewards need to either be scaled up or changed entirely, full stop. On an individual basis, my ideas:
Aisling's stashes should drop more Veiled items now that the Syndicate will be less common.
Elreon should give more Unique items or give a guaranteed higher rarity tier of them. Every league has given increased means to obtain Unique items and compared to them, Elreon is an utter joke. I get more Uniques from completing one Incursion in a yellow map than I do from Elreon.
Why does Haku give items with quality in Research. I can buy Whetstones and Armourer scraps from vendors. Even Delve gives "Superior" (30% quality) items, which I'd count as better than Haku. What does Haku even "do" in Transportation?
Hillock map quality. This would only be valued back in the days when people Exalted maps.
ITF should give more Breach Splinters, more Abyss Jewels. To be honest, I'm not sure why they gave it Abyss Jewels instead of Breach Rings. Maybe because they realized that Breach Rings are hot garbage.
More Talismans from Jorgin, perhaps with a guaranteed cascade of tiers and even some Tier 4 Greatwolfs (not the Unique variety), which we haven't seen since the days of Rigwald. Most if not all of the Talisman affixes are useful, hence why I don't distinguish so much between tiers 1 to 3 and would want equal access to all of them.
For SSF, I'd rate Riker as a middling pick because ilvl100 can be useful for some bases and a choice of Unique is better than Elreon's "Rain of Alch Shards". But it's still not great since we're getting "one" item and it's probably not great. Better options would be the obvious pick, not sure what would fly besides that. Maybe if we could go between five Trapped tabs, pick out five items, and get two randomly out of five? It'd ruin the deterministic flavor though, which I like about Trapped stashes. I'd almost even like a Tetris or matching game.
Tora should give the highest tier of enchant on bases of the best possible item variant. Getting a Merciless Labyrinth enchant on utter trash is disheartening. Shaper or Elder influence would be a welcome addition as well.
The sad part about the level-scaling was that GGG could have done it before this point. They could have done it all along and made Betrayal a truly great league. So, what should they do going forward? I've read some people who proposed that the 3* system should be abolished completely and that all rewards should simply be scaled by area level, but I don't see why they couldn't utilize both systems. As I said earlier, quantity should scale with the 3* mechanic and quality should scale with area level because the latter is the far more dangerous (and important, if we want to incentivize playing in high-level content).
As I said for currency stashes, give a chance to drop either one of a high-tier currency or several lower-tier currencies of the same type.
Intervention stashes should perform similarly. Make the 3* continue to give a guaranteed gilded scarab of the member's type (since this worked fine in the league), but make area level scale linearly with chances to give additional Polished or Rusted Scarabs (with an extra Scarab being granted per 6 levels divisible past area level 65 (so an area level 83 zone gives a neat chance to give 4 Scarabs per stash and 1-3 in anything less). I'm assuming that Scarabs will stay locked behind Betrayal instead of becoming a general currency drop, but we could get an Annulment Orb treatment.
Research rewards are tricky, since they consist of crafting bench services that can't really be meaningfully changed and are already very good. But change some of the crappy ones, my god...
Gravicius is a joke: the tier of card given should at least be of the same rarity tier, or it could be something like a Tier 3 Sacrifice chamber where a card with a same "set count" is given (thus drastically revaluing 8-set cards).
Or it could be changed to "create duplicates of an inserted card", with the number scaling according to Gravicius' level and the set count of that card.
Janus and Cadiro as a whole need to be rebalanced; it's a crying shame for such a widely praised league with solid early-mid game integration and SSF potential to go to waste because Cadiro is now an overcharging Rare jewelry vendor.
Haku should do something completely different. My idea is to upgrade items with "low" base into items of a "high" base. This has been a longstanding idea, but I've never heard it mentioned with respect to the Syndicate (which surprises me, since the Syndicate is all about outlandish ideas). For example, going from a Destroyer Regalia to a Vaal Regalia. Obviously, not all items have a 1:1 example like this, so the applications would need to be done on a case by case basis.
Several rare-item related rewards should be changed to have a deterministic mod on them or provide a craftable base a la Jorgin's Aspect items. "More Rare items to identify" is not the solution. Identifying items is a tedious exercise in item-filtering that takes away from gameplay and adds to unnecessary micro-management that is no different from the end of an Incursion or Delve node. Giving us something to craft and sink currency into; that's engaging, that's "Delve meta-mod item" kinda stuff right there. The Syndicate is all about customization, so give us something to customize. Abyss jewels could have Delve fossil modifiers already on them, Rare items with Essence mods could drop, sealed Bestiary Orbs with beasts inside... the possibilities are far larger than what GGG has laid forth
This is the most outlandish idea I've thought of yet: Make the Syndicate change rewards per league, like Zana. They could still stick to general themes, but any way to shake up potential future metas involving Betrayal as a core league mechanic is huge. Especially with respect to the "discovery" theme of Betrayal, if we had to relearn what the rewards were each league. I seriously didn't think of this until just now and I don't think GGG will do it, but it's an interesting proposition for sure.
BetrayalVeiled items are bad but not that bad Description of problem: Veiled items share the same problems as rare items because they are rare items with a crafted affix on top. As one's crafting bench completion increases, Veiled items become increasingly useless to pick up and annoying to unveil. The veiled signature mods of Syndicate members, in particular, require special attention to obtain. 20 chaos orbs for It that Fled veiled mods will become far worse in future leagues. Proposed solution to problem: Rare items are another can of worms, so it's regrettable that there's no way to make veiled item drops impactful beyond early game, recipe unlocking, and the occasional very rare good item. The crafting bench problem will not be alleviated by making veiled items more rare (an assumed condition of Betrayal going core exactly as it is now): you'll simply have the same problem at the top-end with a corresponding increase in the price of unveiled items,crafting services, and scamming. Solutions are numerous, but they all boil down to "make more veiled items drop" because it is likely that the difficulty of finishing one's crafting bench may even be intentional. Veiled items could drop in the core game and not merely from Syndicate members. Syndicate members could have a guaranteed drop of at least one veiled item. More Syndicate members could spawn per encounter, or Jun could become an Alva-style master and be encountered multiple times per instance, but only spawn the encounter once you speak with her (rather than running across them in the wild as we do now, as the spawning of one Syndicate encounter removes the existence of previous unfinished ones due to the Betrayal board increments by "turns". I was going to suggest making unveils more likely to give unknown or incomplete recipes, but the way veiled items generate prohibits that. Finally, GGG could shake up crafting as we know it in 3.6 and add more recipes, move some veiled mods to in-map recipes, or make Syndicate members themselves drop recipe objects that grant the recipe in question. Manipulating the Syndicate feels bad Description of problem: While having two choices per encounter may have worked for Incursion, it doesn't work for Betrayal. With Incursion, you get 11 encounters and that's it; each one increments progress, even if you die and fail to kill either of the Architects. With Betrayal, encounters do not necessarily increment progress towards a Safehouse because other options continually come up. I said that there were "two" options per member per encounter, but in practice, this number is often lower. While interrogation will guarantee that progress increases, it is generally reserved for moving undesirable members around to allow desired members to fill their places or for keeping a safehouse locked because it decreases the quality of rewards from the interrogated member and lowers their rank, resulting in less intelligence and necessitating yet more executions to level members up. In the course of "naturally" playing Betrayal (as opposed to targeted farming), interrogation is mathematically the least efficient option, if necessary at times to cap off a Safehouse. While GGG may have envisioned Betrayal like a tidal pool with patterns constantly in flux, ultimately yielding a beneficial outcome, we players would rather have a bird in a hand than some unknown garbage in the bush. Thus, valued members are rarely interrogated (because there's no guarantee that they'd return to their original position due to the randomness involved in encounters) and single-member encounters are often utterly useless, especially for the purposes of securing intelligence. The reward design of the Syndicate coupled with the mechanics of progressing towards a Safehouse result in an optimal and preferable structure that largely removes the annoyances of the two inferior Syndicate branches (Transportation and Fortification) while promoting investment into a few key members in Research and Intervention. Theoretically, it would also be possible to farm Fortification and Transportation quite rapidly and profitably because they are more common than their sister branches, but again, the reward structure dissuades this type of farming. The specter of level-scaling also rears its head here. While higher area levels seem to increase the chance for multiple Syndicate members to spawn (alongside appropriate relationships), they also increase the difficulty of the encounter multiplicatively. Red map mods on top of higher area level on top of whatever items and ranks the Syndicate members have on top of there simply being more members around to attack you. By contrast, Harbour Bridge farming is extremely tame. There's also time to take into consideration: higher level areas take more time to clear than Harbour Bridge or Foothills, assuming that the same build were to deal with both. While a high level area might have extra features that might give returns for the time invested (aka, you do the rest of the map after you do the Syndicate), there's nothing quite so fast and precise as farming the Syndicate in Foothill. Level scaling also has absolutely no effect on intel gains, apart from the possibility of spawning more members (which is more safely and rapidly done by creating new instances in low level zones). Of course, what I've mentioned thus far is if everything in the Syndicate works like clockwork and people simply go into encounters, click whichever buttons, and go on their merry way. What actually happens is that players are constantly forced to walk away from encounters because the given options would actually set them back. It feels bad to walk away from Betrayal encounters. Or from any encounter in general. Take Alva, for example. Due to the way instance generation works, her three appearances within an instance sharply limit our ability to get specific Tier 3 Temple rooms (namely, the highly desired Corruption and Sacrifice rooms). When an instance is created, content is not generated as it is encountered; it is created all at once. This means that Alva cannot offer to affect the same room more than once within a single set of three Incursions (whereas she was capable of offering consecutive upgrades during Incursion league). If you were to naturally do 3-3-3-2 Incursions, you would only have 4 chances to affect a given room in the Temple. There is a small trick you can do to increase your chances of affecting a desirable room: When Alva offers a room, that offer remains on the table if you leave the instance and spawn a new Alva elsewhere. Consequently, if you get a bad offer from Alva, you can just skip her current Incursion, spawn another Alva, and then the other 2 Incursions in the new set of 3 cannot be that "bad" offer that she's currently got. The problem is that this trick increases the amount of time it would take you to access a temple. Let's say you constantly perform this trick, such that you only effectively do 2 Incursions per Alva. Instead of taking 4 Alvas to access a Temple, it would take 6. In addition, let's say you're getting Alva on high pack size maps or maps with desirable Divination cards. If you skip an Alva encounter in that instance, you're losing out on loot and experience. This is technically a trade-off, as you are trading away Alva encounters in order to potentially get better results from your Temple. But that's not what it feels like, due to the opportunity costs involved with walking away from Alva. And now let's bring it back to Betrayal. When you meet the Syndicate, what's the worst that could happen? Well, you might get members who won't be kicked out, or you'll kick them out but they just come back, or desirable members will try to leave, or they'll offer to remove all rivalries when you don't want to, or they'll offer to become trusted, or they'll offer to do some kind of betrayal that you don't want (which are most of what happens when it's down to two people, hence the preference for rivalries over trusted statuses), or you'll simply only get one lone guy to show up and it isn't because he's 3* and can't summon unranked members, it's because you just got bad RNG, and you'll have no choice but to turn tail and gloomily walk out of that Research lab. And it'll keep on happening over and over, though at least Betrayal going core means you won't get this crap happening in every single instance. That's what I mean when I say manipulating the Syndicate feels bad. If the league went core exactly as it is today, with an appearance rate shared between all of the masters, you would virtually never complete a safehouse with desirable outcomes. I would be remiss to not mention that there are quality of life problems with the Syndicate that have nothing to do with the league's mechanical design. For instance, the visual web of lines connecting members can become so tangled as to be incomprehensible. Only dialogue outputted to chat can give clear indicators of what each member thinks of their colleagues (because the infighting tends to be unnoticeable in the storm of VFX that typically occupy any PoE player's screen or the enemies die too quickly to do anything). Syndicate members can also rarely die out of bounds while performing movement skills. Finally, there are persistent damage skills on some Syndicate members and mobs that can annoy someone who's just trying to bargain with the fallen, including the electrified nets and Cameria's icicle cone. These self-same skill effects will also become invisible if you go too far off-screen and come back. But wait. There's more. The Mastermind. It's Catarina. Spoilers, by the way. People have different opinions about the design of the fight. Some people think that the visual effects of the attacks, the relative scarcity of flask-granting adds, the indicators for how to progress the phases of the fight, and the area of denial mechanics that limit the viability of some build types within that fight are bad. Others think that her fight is the best thing since sliced bread. So the design of her fight is not necessarily a problem, though it's worth a mention because it's contentious. What is a problem is how she interacts with the Syndicate. As GGG's own statistics have shown, players have still deemed it more punishing than not to actually complete her fight. Even after they adjusted her fight to give the rewards of the four safehouse leaders at the time of her defeat. Even though many of her dropped items are somewhat expensive thanks to a lack of supply. This is down to the Syndicate being a pain in the ass to manipulate and set back up (especially once you've locked undesirable members into undesirable branches and prefer to keep them that way) on top of her fight resetting the entire Syndicate's members and progress. In addition, if you fail the fight, you reset all of her progress . This isn't really important considering how people mostly only fight her for challenge-related purposes (and the loot is simply a byproduct), but it is noticeably more punishing than most other endgame boss fights. Shaper and Uber Elder can simply be fought again and are known to be tough but fair. Catarina is hardly so gracious. Even though it turns out she's always hiding in the Forbidden Vault, you've got to find her all over again. If Betrayal goes core exactly as it is, barring some people who would like to get some of her exclusive crafts for services in the new league, I don't see why people would bother with her fight. It would still be more profitable to farm for scarabs and crafting benches than to screw up a painstakingly laid Syndicate. Proposed solution to problem: To reiterate, the problems with the mechanics of the Syndicate include the binary choice system a la Incursion, the undesirable outcomes of any given Betrayal offer (including the interrogation option), the tedium caused by the random nature of said offers compounded with the fact that you only get a few choices in the matter, and the fact that progressing the Syndicate and getting better rewards from it has nearly no relation to high level content. Oh, and the Mastermind may as well not exist. Here are some options:
Encounters will be less frequent, so GGG should simply make them always have at least 2 members, regardless of the relationships between said members (though it should prioritize relationship statuses before inserting random members).
Make Syndicate members give more options. I cannot stress enough just how bad it is to have virtually 1-2 choices per encounter: we wouldn't be constantly walking away from encounters otherwise. It would be absolutely unacceptable for us to have to do this in the core game. This could be something as simple and reductive as simply allowing us to always execute a member (You might not necessarily get progress because they're already 3*, but at least they drop their items) regardless of how many members are present (on top of a Bargain or Betray option).
Or it could be something as complex as a wholesale rework of the interaction mechanics. Personally, I favor a drag-and-drop board with intuitive decision making.
Each member in the encounter should be highlighted with a black and green flame border as per the colors of Betrayal.
Their relationship lines should glow brightly when that member is hovered over, and green or red outlines should appear based on what relationship the selected member has with a given member (and make them hues that are friendly to more common varieties of colorblindness).
When a member is selected, there should be a menu of options to choose from, including Interrogation, Execution, Bargaining for Intel, Bargaining for Items, Destroying a Branch's items, Freeing Prisoners and any number of available Betrayal options where they're available (if trusted members are in the zone).
The "drag and drop" aspect would be for removing members (putting them in the trash bin to get swapped with someone who isn't in the Syndicate) and for switching the positions of members between branches or between leadership positions (only leaders can switch with other leaders and only subordinates can switch with leaders in their branch).
Allow multiple encounters within a zone. I suggested this for the purpose of improving the feeling of dealing with Veiled Items, but this would also apply to interacting with Syndicate mechanics by giving a sense of rapid and impactful progression through a single set of Jun encounters. Of course, only different branches or keystone members might be allowed to show up, which could prove to be troublesome for manipulation purposes, but if it came hand in hand with increases to intel gains or bargaining/execution options, it could be fine. The impromptu feeling of stumbling into the four distinct mission types is appealing though, hence why having Jun as the start trigger might not be possible (especially when it comes to Intervention, which is supposed to ambush you).
Make area level have an effect on Syndicate progress. Once it goes core, infrequent encounters mean that intel could be adjusted to fill with fewer encounters based on area level and not just rank within the Syndicate. In addition, intel could scale asymptotically with the amount of relationships that a member has (makes sense, right? More friends/enemies, more info). The way I see it, Safehouses don't really come into play until at least level 60; it's all veiled items and manipulation before then. This means that Safehouse farming in low-level zones should be diminished by changing how intel is gathered and farming in high-level zones will be rewarding both with respect to looting and to interfacing with the content. In addition, to promote some degree of multi-safehouse farming, we could have cross-department intel (give intel for their own branch as well as the branch they appeared to help with).
Make the Mastermind worthwhile to do. This would be helped by making the Syndicate less tedious to set up in some way, whether by one of the above methods or some other method. This depends on how GGG wants the Mastermind to be treated by players: as an integral end-goal that is equivalent to other established Syndicate farming methods, or just as a nice bonus on top, or something else? If the former, then GGG should double the rewards made available by the Safehouse leaders. Four stashes against two is a clear winner, especially considering that we're skipping out on the safehouse members by doing this as well as the potential difficulty of getting the Mastermind in future leagues. This also really promotes a risk/reward mechanic and justifies having Catarina disappear for another several Safehouses should you fail to kill her. Having an "incomplete" reset of the Syndicate might also be good (explain it by saying that previous members keep some of their old ties after being reorganized), though the ability to wipe the board is useful for people who have screwed up too much and would rather start over without moving people around (again, depends on if Betrayal interaction is changed when it goes core). The criteria for not being reset could be an amount of relationships (rivalries/trusts) or a rank requirement (3* in the leader position, thus shielding the subordinates from reset).
Finally, making alternative farming methods within the Syndicate viable through interaction mechanics. While the suggestions about loot increases could help to incentivize some people to pick more of the currently middling/bad rewards and therefore farm outside of Intervention and Research, what people generally do is they set up everyone to have rivalries (because of the problem with bad choices, especially when members are trusted). I'd like to see a more distinct set of advantages/disadvantages that are different but equal for trusted/rival statuses. I don't think that Intervention or Research will necessarily be devalued by making Transportation and Fortification more accessible and rewarding; they have worthwhile rewards that can stand against simple numeric increases in currency drops from the common branches. Making it easier to move members where you want or keep them where they are (instead of constantly rolling the dice and walking away when it the outcome is unsuitable) would help with shifting the current meta of "locking" the "undesirable" Syndicate branches, although the targeted farming is appealing in it's own player-invented ingenuity.
In closing, I would rather Betrayal get a "Bestiary" treatment if GGG doesn't have a game plan for how they're going to make it into core content. Better to wait a few months and do the job right than to botch it. Betrayal is tied to a lot of crafting options at the moment, but they could be moved to environmental Atlas recipes for the time being or veiled items could drop regardless of the Syndicate's presence in Wraeclast (a little odd to have a Veiled master without a Syndicate to fight though, hence why I'm fairly certain GGG already has something up their sleeve for this). GGG has invested a lot of resources into writing and polishing Betrayal and creatively engineering its mechanics, and it shows. Most content that GGG has ever made tends to return in one way or another, thanks to how asset use and systems design work in this game. It isn't a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when". I hope GGG makes the right calls on this and I look forward to what you guys think should be done.
Make combat feel meaningful with lingering injuries [Featuring tables]
I'll frontload my message here; going into combat should be a meaningful decision with real, mechanical consequences. The basic assumption is that, while it's possible to get captured or affect the narrative flow of the game with combat, your character will either die in this fight or live and this binary choice combined with the sheer powercreep that later editions have means that there's not a lot of options for a middleground between the two. Lingering injuries help bridge that gap, and can provide meaningful mechanical bonuses to your players in the process. Using a simple injury table (links in the bottom) will help bridge the gap between these two binary options. The scenario You're slugging it out with this orc warlord because your DM ignores CR and throws encounters that you have to think your way out of, and negotians have gone south. You're dropped and left in the gladiatorial pit a bloodied, ruined mess. As the orcs all leave, your cleric runs over and casts healing word and you're back up immediately and I hate this. I'm far from the only person to talk to how much I hate the rubberbandy death system in 5e, and there's a lot of different solutions out there. For me what I'd like to focus on though is the consequences of that, or rather the lack of them. Make combat have meaning There's a fucking amazing artical out there by a grill called cavegirl; links here, but I'll pull a quote for this.
I don't like death at 0HP. From a player side its abrupt and always feels arbitrary, and from the ref side it's both quite punishing and doesn't cause enough complications. When characters hit 0HP, I want them to suffer. They get chopped up, start bleeding, lose body parts, get messed up. Characters that drop to 0HP should aquire scars and problems. They should risk death but have a chance to avoid it if swift medical attention is received. It's worth noting that, compared to death at 0HP, these rules are not as forgiving as you might think: being stuck with a PC who's missing two limbs or brain damaged is a pretty big nerf, compared to just getting to roll up a new, perfectly healthy PC.
I don't want a game where chosing to get into a slugfest with orcs is a casual decision. We know we can beat them. No, to hell with that; the minute things feel like that I'll up the difficulty to be overbearing again. I want that to have a risk of permanent consequences, maybe wounds that you'll be dealing with for your character's whole lifespan. You can adjust how dibilitating the effects of these wounds are depending on the table/your comfortability with ignoring the result. And you get a character growth moment out of it. As a DM, I'll always remember my barbarian getting scarred because of a giant's particularly heavy strike so much more than whatever backstory element the warlock's conjured up. That scar has a history. It's got a meaningful moment to it that, alongside a collection of other wounds, helps to make a character grow. It's a part of the game's shared history. Scars and wounds can be meaningful, and lead to quests themselves That orc's caved my character's face in. Okay, let's do things a little differently; maybe there's a signature technique that the orc chieftan does. I love DC comics, so I'll call it the lepoard blow (...I guess he's a monk now?). He's hit your fighter with that. We'll do something basic and say that he's got disadvantage on persuasion checks, but advantage on intimidation. That's a basic trade off, and your players can actually do what they can to minimize it if they wanted. Maybe he wears a mask, or focuses on healing it over a period, or makeup. It's a nice, simple tradeoff, and already there's rumors of a healer to the north that might be able to deal with that. Okay, that's basic so let's do something more complex. Your fighter's permanently scarred with these destinctive wounds. Other orc's will recognise that and react differently to it, because it's such a unique attack pattern. Maybe the rival tribes are now more friendly to your player group; they've seen this blow before, and they're surprised that you even survived it. You've gained an asset in losing to that chieftan, and all because we give different settings other than win/lose. Losing limbs is fun Ever played Kenshi, or Sekiro? I love those games. You already know where I'm going with this, but adding in different posthetic weapons and items is a really fun way to give your players unique and flavorful magical items. These can be as complex as you want; prosthetics have a very long history, and don't need to be super advanced. They'll fit into most settings. Aside from being super interesting, they tend to present a lot of different options for customization and the possiblity of upgrading them by hunting down a particularly good blacksmith is always on the table. And there's always the chance to lose them again. Man that'd suck. Eberron's a good resource for this for those that own it. When to wound?
This is really on you. My old DM ran it that anytime a monster got a crit it'd come with some sort of wound. That was rough. I typically run it as a consequence for falling to 0 health, or taking massive injury.
This is really on how lethal you want your games to be though. The end result should just be that players are kept aware that every combat they engage with could take something from them, something more than death. The learning
Disabling the binary win/die option in games like fifth edition is a good, meaningful choice
You can get lots of different quest hooks, items and mechanical tradeoffs from loss of limb and mutilation
Going into combat should be a meanignful thing, and shoudl carry risks other than dying
There's worse things to lose than a character. Immediately getting a shiny new character without any losses is too forgiving
Scars carry story and form a part of the shared experience that is your game
This is a continuation of the discord project to rate every card in the game on two main criteria: playability and flexibility.
Category 1: Playability
How good is the card in the decks it fits in? S: Best of the best. The card should probably get nerfed in the state it's currently in because it's just that good. You're going to play it all the time in the decks where it works. A: Very strong. Not something you'd see nerfed, but still a very strong card that you want to play every time. B: Good. A very strong option in the decks, but it can theoretically be gone without for one reason or another. C: Decent. It can be worth playing, but there are reasons to drop it as well. D: Bad. It's really not worth playing, though it at least has some merit one way or the other. F: Terrible. There's absolutely no reason to play this card.
Category 2: Flexibility
How many decks can this fit in? S: This is a good option in basically any deck of the class. Top tier crafting material. A: This is a good option in at least 3 different decks. B: This is a good option in at least 2 different decks. C: This is a build around card that itself enables a deck, but doesn't really fit into anything else. D: This is a good option in only one deck. F: This card just doesn't have a deck where it fits in, either because it's just that outclassed by other cards for the deck it wants to be in, or because it wants to be part of a deck that simply doesn't exist. Finally, since there are two key factors that these criteria do not cover, there are two extra modifiers that can be added onto each rating: *: This is a tech card, and can move up or down significantly depending on whether or not you run into what it counters a lot. #: This is a budget card, and moves up in the respective category if your resources are limited. Backup Dancer: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Fun fact, this is the only basic 1/1 that doesn’t have a card strictly better than it due to it having a mustache. It’s also the one you’re most likely to see due to dance off. It’s also still complete and total garbage, and I’m only writing this because it doesn’t need a justification and I’m bored. Bungee Plumber: Playability: B Flexibility: B Justification: While it is a main removal card that doesn’t really run into much competition, it runs into the issue of competing with mission in aggro and not removing anything bigger than a 1 drop (most of the time) and thus falling off way faster than something like berry blast which consistently deals with cards above cost, leading to it being a bit less flexible and a bit more cuttable. Disco-naut: Playability: A Flexibility: B Justification: Still a 2/1 bullseye that lets the cards that need it most ignore the mechanic designed to slow them down, which is a mechanic so powerful that this has gone through 2 nerfs and still remains uncuttable in anything remotely aggressive. Grave Robber: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: Not really a bad card in a vacuum considering it’s a 2/2 bullseye, but competing with Disco-naut and having an ability that is very hard to use effectively due to crazy’s lack of good gravestones and sneaky having a better payoff for gravestones leaves it in a very mediocre spot, even if going for pirate synergy. Loose Cannon: Playability: D# Flexibility: F Justification: Block charger incarnate. Trading poorly and charging block when it’s not trading leave this card in a very poor spot on average, with its main application being it being okay in budget imps from being okay with Imp Commander. Mystery Egg: Playability: D# Flexibility: F Justification: RNG does not lend itself to good cards, and this is no exception. In the most budget decks this can be a decent combo with Unlife of the party, but it falls off in usefulness quite fast. Quickdraw Conman: Playability: A Flexibility: S Justification: From S/S to just not quite S/S, conman remains an absolute monster of a card that you need a very good reason to ever consider cutting due to being easy chip on a very durable body. The only thing that could make this better is if plants had good draw for it to punish even harder. Tennis Champion: Playability: D# Flexibility: D Justification: 4 damage for 1 in aggro, but becoming a heavy block charger afterwards leaves it with very few applications compared to something like bonk choy, especially with differences in phases. If it was a 2/1 with +2 attack on turn of play it would be about 20 times better, but as is it’s mainly just a budget card. Trapper Territory: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Too low value to really see play anywhere, and with PoTG gutted it doesn’t even have it’s moderate usefulness as an anti-cyclecap tech. Unlife of the Party: Playability: C# Flexibility: D Justification: While very weak initially, if it can be set up a bit it snowballs quite hard. Its main weakness is not being playable solo on 1 like you would want to with most 1 drops you run which makes it weaker in non-budget aggro, but it’s still playable and quite useful in Zoo Z-mech decks which can grow it incredibly fast. Aerobics Instructor: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: Solid snowballing card for dance decks, and though moderate inconsistency at actually doing anything can make it mildly cuttable, you usually want to run it anyway from massive potential snowballing and not losing stats for it. Barrel of Deadbeards: Playability: A Flexibility: D Justification: It’s a bit awkward to play, which leaves it quite inflexible, but in valk decks or very specific impfinity decks (that are quite a bit weaker with the BoB nerf) it’s an absolute all star for being able to clean up youyour opponent’s board respectively and leaving behind a very good body. Conga Zombie: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Trades like a 3/2 or occasionally a bit better, but the one damage is unlikely to kill and it’s not good at pushing due to poor stats, which leaves it with much better alternatives. Cuckoo Zombie: Playability: D# Flexibility: F Justification: If left unchecked, Cuckoo Zombie will absolutely clock your opponent, so they better watch out, but on the second hand, its low health and poor timing means it won't last a minute against an average defence making it a poor play on the average day. Disco Dance Floor: Playability: A Flexibility: D Justification: An absolute all star card in aggro and dance that will usually generate at least 6 damage and often more if you can get a good fusion off. Generally not worth it elsewhere due to not trading at all. Explosive Fruitcake: Playability: A Flexibility: B Justification: In a weird spot as a removal control sometimes doesn’t want to run because it’s an inherent -1 but also aggro doesn’t want to run because it’s a bit too slow. Would be amazing in midrange as a massive tempo card if crazy midrange was more of a thing, and is a staple in valk and trickster since they’re combo decks and don’t care as much as control decks about the card advantage, along with being a sometimes inclusion in control if you can stomach the card disadvantage. Final Mission: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: No longer S thanks to costing a reasonable amount, but still a very solid finisheremoval for aggro and valk decks since you will inevitably have fodder lying around for it. Meteor Z: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: If you really need a buff, just play sugary treat, but you probably shouldn’t need either of them since they really don’t help all that much from not providing (much) more survivable trades and automatically 2 for 1ing yourself. Newspaper Zombie: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Too much investment for something too easy to shut down, running into the same problem Hibernating Beary had where you invest into it to become good but a lack of other targets for your self-hurt means it gets shut down and you’re left lost. Quazar Wizard: Playability: A Flexibility: A Justification: Midrange, Aggro, and Valkyrie absolutely love this card as it’s an easy to activate body that produces a super at the loss of a single stat point. Control can also think about it, though lack of activators can sometimes lead to problems. Generally just a fantastic card you want to run most of the time. Space Ninja: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: This card has some very sick combos you can set up with it, but they’re incredibly unreliable and with the Barrel of Barrels nerf even slower than before. It does have the advantage of being a 2 cost 3/2, but with the ability rarely if ever going off it doesn’t see much play. Sugary Treat: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: A pretty poor buff card due to a lack of health provided which makes it unlikely to compensate for the inherent dangers of buff cards, being massive potential to get 2 for 1d and being useless without a target. Can at very least be okay at pushing damage, but generally there are better options for that too. Zombie’s Best Friend: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: The randomness of the ability means the body generated will often be useless, so it’s very important to run this in a deck with final mission and that really wants lots of fodder. That leaves valk, in which it can be a decent option, but valk has a LOT of decent options so it can also often be cut. Abracadaver: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: This card runs into a major problem with the current gravestones, which is that there is no gravestone that meaningfully punishes you for fronting it with a small card. That means that most gravestones will be fronted with small cards, and this will die for free. If it had any chance of getting through on its own it would be at very least decent, but right now the situations counter it too perfectly. Disco Zombie: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Poor body that produces a body that will more often than not weaken your board state. There is always better things to run. Exploding Imp: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Suffers from the same problem as abracadaver (will be fronted by its exact counter most of the time) with the added problem of additionally being garbage on its own too. Fireworks Zombie: Playability: B* Flexibility: D Justification: A cheap, 1 card method of disrupting swarm while putting out a body, along with being decent on its own as well for finishing off anything heavily damaged from combat. The more swarm you see the better this gets, and if you don’t see much it’s more cuttable. Gizzard Lizard: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: It competes with fireworks while being significantly worse due to requiring a sacrifice to do anything and not really helping much more against swarm. Jester: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: Theoretically, this doesn’t run into the same problem as Exploding Imp and Abracadaver because it wants to be fronted by small cards. However, the reward being mediocre chip at best and outright block charging at worst leaves much to be desired, so the main application of this is to evolve headhunter, which can simply be done by better cards. Moon Base Z: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: Can be a decent damage pusher for aggro but reliance on having another card and being generally a bit slow make it often not the best option. Can combo with cards that trigger upon hitting the plant hero, but that’s even slower and less useful. Unexpected Gifts: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: Has mild merit due to being the only direct source of card advantage in crazy, but the card quality is questionable and it’s very unlikely to provide cards you want to advance your gameplan. Zombot’s Wrath: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: If it hit for 6 more often than once a year, then it would maybe be a better card. As is, it’s just a bit too expensive to be worth it since aggro has final mission and control decks have other small removal. Cakesplosion: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Add fruit and make it cost 2 less and do more damage, or just run wrath instead because basically nothing relevant has 4 health. Cosmic Dancer: Playability: D# Flexibility: D Justification: Too expensive for what it does normally, but can be an okay budget option for dancing decks. Headhunter: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: Restricted to only dancing decks but quite a good card in them. Solid body unevolved that can help open up the block meter for a flamenco, or evolved on any of the fodder you have lying around a massive body that provides free damage. It also crosses the 4 threshold with its evo, so you can strategically avoid either hammer or shamrocket depending on your matchup. For some variations of dance it’s too slow and can be cut, but a lot of the time it’s good to have around. Orchestra Conductor: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: This card’s existence is a misconduct. Stupid Cupid: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Comes down in the wrong phase, like old cryo yeti. If it had gravestone, it would become ridiculously better, also like cryo yeti. As is, it’s complete trash. Tankylosaurus: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: The subject of a sort of build around in impfinity that was massively hurt by the BoB nerf and already kind of inconsistent as is since this card can hit face. Still an okay deck that can completely demolish some plant decks though, as long as you can get around hitting face constantly. The Chickening: Playability: D* Flexibility: D Justification: The massive lack of swarm decks right now really hurts this card. If they ever come back this will be a solid option for control, but as is it’s simply not necessary. Valkyrie: Playability: A Flexibility: C Justification: Formerly S/S, the cost nerf took it out of usability for everything not built around it since it’s no longer completely busted. Still an amazing build around card that enables an aggro/combo deck, which is an unorthodox and good combination since it doesn’t run into the normal problems combo decks have of being overwhelmed early. Binary Stars: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: Very combo reliant to be useful and is thus quite inflexible, but has the strength to back it up if you do have the synergy for it due to straight up doubling your damage output. Flamenco Zombie: Playability: A Flexibility: C Justification: The dance finisher that is basically the entire reason you play dance because it can semi-consistently kill on 5 and very consistently kill on 6/7. Not much else to say here, it’s a dance card through and through. Foot Soldier: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: This would probably still be bad even if it didn’t have the play restriction. As is it’s god awful. Frankentaur: Playability: C Flexibility: F Justification: As of now it actually has stats to be playable, but it just really doesn’t have anywhere to fit into since the stats are really all it has and unlike Supernova Gargantuar it can’t also break through blockers to be a 1 card threat. So it’s just in a kind of purgatory where it’s technically playable but it doesn’t have a deck to be playable in. Gargantuar-throwing Imp: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: I’m as shocked as anyone that the massive 1 strength buff this got wasn’t enough to make it anywhere near playable. Which is to say, not shocked at all. Hippity Hop Gargantuar: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Kinda just clogs lanes, so it’s outclassed by Frankentaur at whatever the niche of being a good crazy 5 cost garg is. It’s not exactly a niche in high demand. Imp-throwing Gargantuar: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Kinda funny that Crazy got the first two throwing cards, meant to synergize with the self hurt they have going in fireworks and barrel, and they got the two that aren’t playable in any form while Gargantuar-throwing Gargantuar is a high tier finisher and Imp-throwing Imp is the best card in its deck, and they don’t even have the synergies. Poor crazy. Anyway, this card is bad, it’s always been bad, and it’s beaten out by pretty much every card in the game in usefulness. Don’t play it. Disco-tron 3000: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Swarm the field the turn after your finisher can come down with bodies that would barely be relevant 2 turns ago. It’s really bad, and becoming a gravestone way back when didn’t help it all that much, though it got a bit better, it’s still unplayable. Gas Giant: Playability: B Flexibility: F Justification: By all rights this should be a good card, and it is, but crazy has no midrange deck to use this as a finisher in, so it just doesn’t go anywhere. Solid body with 1/4 of your opponent’s health down the drain when it dies, while also functioning as a board unclogger to help get other threats down and get them through chump blockers. Gargantuar’s Feast: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: The Mt. Everest of control finishers. Getting to it is the game winning pinnacle of the game, but actually getting there is a massive ordeal that fails most of the time and is too impractical to be a good idea. If you'd like to have your voice heard on these tier lists, feel free to join the discord, where we have these discussions on the cards, or to make a comment, which I will try to respond to as well explaining why a card was given a certain rating. The next class we're covering is Smarty.
‘They are us’ – an urgent, uncomfortable call to action
"By Morgan Godfery | Contributing writer March 13, 2020 A proper reckoning with March 15 2019 demands that we take up a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. An essay by Morgan Godfery. This work is made possible bySpinoff Members.
I was cleaning out the garage the other day and found an old Crusaders jersey. If I remember right it’s their team kit from 2005, the white knight sewn into the chest and the old Ford logo printed in the centre. The jersey itself is still as fresh as new paint, a novelty purchase from when we were passing through Christchurch on our way to Christmas in Oamaru. I was a year 9 in school and a Super 12 jersey was the kind of item you had, just so you could say you had one. This is about the same time it was still acceptable to whisper things like how the white players in the Crusaders were responsible for their team’s championship success, playing their footy with brains, and the problem with mid-table finishers like the Blues were too many brown boys who only knew how to throw their weight around. I’m not quite white-passing, but my upper middle-class accent, generally preppy affect, and not-quite-pasty-not-quite-brown skin makes me ethnically ambiguous enough that people are happy to share their thoughts about big Polynesian units, Asian immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and the Jews. The first time I remember running into entirely casual racism was in Christchurch, on the way back from that Christmas in Oamaru, when a retail worker caught up with me on the street apologising for short-changing me in store. I didn’t realise or particularly care, but years later I thought about his apology. “Sorry, I just Jew-ed you”. At the time it was nothing to me. In high school and later in my flat at Victoria that was just what people said. “Jewing” someone was a verb for ripping them off, taking an advantage, or just a way to give someone a bit of stick. In my experience it was especially popular with the Christ’s College boys, which probably has something to do with the city’s private schools inheriting their culture from Britain’s public schools. “A Jewish boy at a public school almost invariably had a bad time,” wrote Orwell in 1945. Things probably aren’t that much better in 2020. The other day I read an old mate – a private schooler too – on Facebook joking about how Jews are useless at sport. I suspect for good liberals this is probably shocking. This isn’t language that ever sneaks through our circles. But outside of our cosy hermetic world words like coconut, boonga, fob, wog, gook, curry muncher, towelhead, the hundred variations on the N word, and “Jew” as more than a noun are common currency. The stains from that vocabulary seep into every part of the culture and society, and nothing much has ever been done to wash it out. The first time I remember encountering deliberate, menacing racism is on the rugby paddock when a white coach was yelling at my mate on the wing “run you BLACK bastard”. I thought about that moment when spectators in Christchurch were caught vilifying Fijian player Sake Aca in 2015, screaming from the stands “black cunt”. Fandoms like to imagine their sports, multicultural rugby especially, as pure and independent realms (“a level playing field”) absent race, politics, or any disadvantage other than skill. It’s a seductive argument, I’ll concede that much, but it’s so self-evidently false it still surprises me every time someone insists on it earnestly. Sport? Not racist? In 2012 talkback callers and trolls went after then Blues coach Pat Lam and his family for the great crime of simply being Polynesian. In 2010 former All Black Andy Haden was put through the wringer for telling media the Crusaders only recruit a maximum three “darkies”, presumably to preserve the team’s famous brain-brawn balance. Even in the laudatory histories New Zealand rugby was, and probably remains, a notorious nexus for down home conservatives, know-nothing administrators, and out and out racists. In 1960 the rugby union sent the All Blacks on tour to Apartheid South Africa, waving the team off without any Māori players or officials in a remarkable sop to the country’s colour bar. In 1976 the national team were sent back, this time defying international calls to cut sporting ties with the racist state. In protest at the tour more than twenty African countries led a boycott at that year’s Olympics, a moral stand that should perpetually shame New Zealand Rugby. Not racist? As if. In an ideal world the Canterbury Crusaders would study this history, carefully considering whether their decision to retain the team name is another brick in rugby’s wall of shame. The managers might consider how “deus vult”, meaning God wills it, a battle cry from the first Crusade, and “Acre 1189”, a reference to a siege in the third Crusade, are URL shorthands and postscripts for white supremacist users constructing a historiography for their neo-fascist movement. The managers might also reflect on how real-life white supremacists in countries like Brazil, Norway, and Australia are adopting the Knights Templar, the Christian warrior monks who made up the crusading hordes, and the literal white knight that was formerly the Canterbury team’s logo, as their saints. 📷 CRUSADERS MASCOTS AT AMI STADIUM IN CHRISTCHURCH IN 2019. PHOTO: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES. FEATURE IMAGE: FRIDAY PRAYERS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE ON MARCH 22, 2019. PHOTO BY SANKA VIDANAGAMA/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES As it happens the team’s managers, after kicking the issue to a “market research” firm shortly after March 15, made the call to save the name. It’s an unconscionable decision, for obvious reasons, but the team bosses seem cognitively incapable of reasoning through the issue and its implications beyond mere “branding”. In a statement announcing the name-stay the team’s PR people wrote “for us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community,” as if it’s possible to just reframe the holy war using a press release. It’s a cretinous thing to do when not even a year earlier an alleged shooter undertook a massacre at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques as part of his own “crusade”. A28-year-old man is before the High Court facing 52 murder charges relating to the events of March 15. What we know about his life is little, save the things he was curating about himself online, which in this essay I treat with caution and scepticism. But it seems clear enough the Australian citizen was an obsessive for the Crusades, scribbling references to the religious war for the Holy Land across the weapon police accuse the man of using to carry out the massacre. Investigative reports note in his pilgrimage to Europe the 28-year-old – who pleaded not guilty to all charges – made particular visits to Christian-Muslim battlegrounds in the former Ottoman Empire, apparently as a tribute to the crusading warmongers he was so keen to match. To outsiders the obsession with this particular historical episode is probably bizarre, if not creepy. But in the nether world this man and his neo-fascist comrades inhabit they imagine they’re acting out the thesis and title in Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations. In his 1993 essay the American political scientist argues that in the immediate past global conflicts were between warring ideological factions – capitalism and communism – but post-Cold War conflict will centre between clashing civilisations. The West vs the rest. Christianity vs Islam. The Crusades II. In Huntington’s telling, and in the alleged shooter’s head, the West and the Islamic world are fated to compete. Yet that competition won’t centre over economic issues like stable oil supply lines, or even political issues like the territorial integrity of Western allies in the Middle East, instead the clash is meant to happen over Islam’s apparently regressive values and the West’s progressive tradition. It’s a striking thesis, especially for the generals and politicians who were hunting for cover for their military adventures in the Middle East and East Africa in the late 80s and early 90s. But it was always a notion that was impossible to apply, reducing the Islamic world to a series of stereotypes (it never had its enlightenment) and setting it against an equally reductive West (it did have its enlightenment). The late Edward Said, the Palestinian scholar, cut right to the heart of Huntington’s argument in identifying it wasn’t an argument at all – rather, he was “a partisan, an advocate of one so-called civilisation over all others” who maps billions of people into “vague” and “manipulable” abstractions and then presents it as a true account of the world. “Thus to build a conceptual framework around the notion of us-versus-them is in effect to pretend that the principal consideration is epistemological and natural – our civilisation is now and accepted, theirs is different and strange – whereas in fact the framework separating us from them is belligerent, constructed, and situational.” In other words, the thing separating the Christian us from the Islamic them, to the extent a clean separation is possible at all, is history – of colonialism, of Cold War power politics – and not immutable categories like “the West” or “the East”. That the categories exist at all are a function of history and political convenience, not a universal law stipulating conflict as the only end. Yet for the neo-fascists like the alleged shooter every thought they cherish orbits this particular rock: that the entire Islamic world is one dirty blob of terrorism, rape, and invasion, and that all its more than one billion members act with a single purpose and co-ordination unknown in the entire history of humanity. But why commit to a dichotomy so obviously stupid at all? The 28-year-old grew up in Grafton, a waterway town in northern New South Wales, and in his time on the Eastern seaboard it seems unlikely he ever actually met many Muslim people at all. In his own family’s account they were just ordinary Aussies. It’s impossible to interrogate the claim – every family thinks itself the norm and we can’t penetrate their private lives to investigate how true it is – yet the family were probably ordinary in one sense. They were unremarkable. Just another white family. The alleged shooter’s parents were in traditional jobs. Mum a teacher. Dad a rubbish man. The people who were closest to him – cousins, old school mates – pinpoint his OE to Europe as “the moment”. As RNZ reports in his manifesto the alleged shooter recounts his trip through North Korea and Pakistan, paying tribute to the locals’ kindness and hospitality (noticing the contradiction he explains he doesn’t hate the yellows and blacks who stay in their own “homelands”). Eventually he lands in Europe, road tripping France. In one passage he despairs that he can’t seem to find an all-white town or city. In another passage his travels take him, quite conveniently, to a cemetery for the European dead of the world wars. “I broke into tears, sobbing alone in the car,” he writes, mourning the apparent Islamification of Europe. “Why were we allowing these soldiers deaths to be in vain?” He didn’t realise that the dead he mourned died trying to kill people like him. In 2018 I wrote (presciently, without claiming too much credit for an insight this awful) that “white nationalism is, for the basement dwelling 4chaners, mouth breathing Redditors, and Youtube philosopher kings, nothing more than a desperate search for an alternative fatherland”. That search is what drove the alleged shooter from his Australian home. “The origin of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European… most importantly, my blood is European”. To the alleged shooter his actual home was irredeemable. “What is an Australian but a drunk European?” In each claim is a desperate narcissism, reaching for an imaginary identity when your existing accomplishments don’t match your personal ambitions. It’s tempting to extend that psychoanalysis. The alleged shooter’s fetish for imaginary “whites” is a cover for the trauma of being a nothing, disembodied. Or maybe the urge to order and rank the world into competing civilisations is a neurosis, like stacking your knives and forks in a row. Perhaps the pleasure he takes in trolling is jouissance, a momentary transgression in the service of briefly feeling. Yet those readings are weightless if they stand alone. The alleged shooter’s interior life is relevant, certainly so for a conviction on murder, but studying the actually existing politics that shaped his positions and actions seems more important than base speculation. In The Invention of Tradition the historians Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm argue that traditions, far from the ancient wisdoms of old, are often nothing more than recent beliefs that help foster a common identity when – to borrow from Said – “organic solidarities” like the family or village break down. The inventions are easy to spot in the courts and parliament where British ritual connects the two institutions to a pedigree and past that their move half away across the world broke. In the neo-fascist movement the inventions are slightly more subtle, taking actual historical happenings like the Crusades and pick-and-mixing the symbols (Knights Templar), battles (Acre 1189), and language (deus vult) that they can contort around the various anti-Muslim bigotries. The idea that traditions are a kind of stand-in where old connections break down seems especially apt in settler colonies where the relationship to the past and a present community often amounts to nothing more than a shopping list of shared habits and references. Gumboots as culture. I appreciate that description could come across as banal, or even malicious, but it gets close to the impulses apparently guiding the alleged shooter: the search for meaningful political connections and political community. As he saw it Australia had no identity to offer. Instead he found his connection in an “imagined community” – in violent European nationalisms – and online. “I am a racist”, the man writes in his manifesto. His neo-fascists comrades were too.
One of the first inspirations he cites is Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian neo-Nazi who, with a 9mm glock, went on a drive-by shooting injuring six African migrants in Macarata in 2018. The racist rampage lit a fuse under that year’s Italian general election. The left went after Matteo Salvini, the League Party leader, the same party in which Traini stood as a mayoral list candidate, for inspiring his violent work. In an ordinary election a political leader would make an immediate climb down, condemning Traini and his crimes. But Salvini, best known in the English-speaking world for closing harbours to refugees crossing the Med, was surprisingly consistent. He said the left had “blood on its hands” for packing the country with “illegal migrants”. The unspoken implication: Traini was doing his patriotic duty. The alleged shooter, watching on from another hemisphere, found a brother in arms. The two men had built their identities around all the same hatreds and had clothed their boogeymen in all the same threads. One stitch for migrant “invaders”. Two stiches for liberals and Marxists, and a needle for the “race traitors” among them. But where the twin gunmen’s hatred really met, transforming from online big noting to a real-life passion, was in protecting “their” women. Traini undertook his crime as an apparent act of revenge against the three Nigerian refugees in court for killing 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro. In his manifesto the alleged shooter offers a similar provocation, taking 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund’s death as his red pill. In his self-mythologising, the Stockholm truck attack, a deadly terrorist attack that took Akerlund’s and four other lives, was his waking moment. “It was another terror attack in the seemingly never-ending attacks that had been occurring on a regular basis throughout my adult life,” he wrote. “But for some reason this was different”. What was that difference? Akerlund. An innocent. It’s a vile misuse – he doesn’t care for anyone or anything beyond himself – but the narrative demands an affect, the shooter turning in his coward’s rags for a knight’s armour. For neo-fascists it’s essential to tell their origin stories through the opposite sex. For aspiring movement leaders like the alleged shooter it’s the fight to protect the “virtue” of “our women” against “Muslim rapists” that forces their hand. For lurkers, shitposters, and like-avores it’s the feminists and “Staceys” who never recognise the genius and vigour of their own race (plain meaning: “women don’t want me”) who lead them into fascism. Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger, a martyr for beta males, undertook his crimes and suicide as an apparent act of “retribution” against women for denying him the sex and love he thought of as his by right. This, not the customary declarations of love for the race, or even the thrill of sharing the same enemies, is usually the heart of online fascism – it’s a reaction against women. In Male Fantasies the German sociologist Klaus Theweleit argues the fascist men who fought against the Weimar Republic from 1918 to 1933, and who went on to prominent positions and a political home in the Nazi regime, were in their heads and hearts afraid of women. For the “Freikorps” there were two womanly classes: White Women, “the nurses” representing order and servitude to men and country; and Red Women, “the communists” representing disorder, whoring, and the end of patriotic men. The latter were the women the paramilitary movement were under an obligation to kill. In one speech a general complains that when “a few old girls get blown up the whole world starts screaming about bloodthirsty soldiers”. “As if women were always innocent,” he said. This is why every fascist movement purges women first – metaphorically and actually. In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema the American historian describes how films under the Duce’s regime “remove the Italian woman from the colonial space”, portraying the colonies as where men might find purpose through trans-national thuggery, and attacking women’s emancipation at home as a “corrupting” force and a check on the people’s success. The alleged shooter undertook his killings with similar illusions. That he could forge a new identity in gun fire and blood, and that liberated women (and Jews) were responsible for his personal and racial decline. In his manifesto the opening line is “it’s the birth rates”, repeated three times. 📷 THE WELLINGTON 15/3 VIGIL HELD AT THE BASIN RESERVE (PHOTO BY ELIAS RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES) It’s easy to diagnose the same pathologies in his comrades. Game developers Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and media critic Anita Sarkeesian – the victims in 2014’s Gamergate troll – were made targets for harassment for no other reason than they were women crossing the border between a man’s stuff (the spacies) and a woman’s role (sex and housework). In New Zealand the death threats against Golriz Ghahraman, our first MP who arrived in New Zealand as a refugee, are so frequent Parliamentary Services ensures special protection for the Green MP. The critics go after Ghahraman for everything from fakery (her “CV” is a lie, she isn’t a “real refugee”) to acting as part of a globalist conspiracy to wipe out the white race. It’s impressively stupid, of course, but the point isn’t the truth in the charges. It’s that an Iranian-born woman sits in our parliament. The same trolls go for the prime minister on Twitter’s #TurnArdern hashtag too, condemning Jacinda as a lazy woman (#parttimePM) who coasts along on nothing more than her femininity (“she’s a pretty communist”). That’s hardly out of the ordinary, of course. In the 2000s print commentators were comfortable enough to throw equally chauvinist slurs at Helen Clark, using “Helengrad” for Clark as the controlling woman and “political dominatrix” for ball-breaking the men around her. The difference is today’s trolls serve their sexism with Islamophobia on top. Last year activist Rangi Kemara found a telling correlation between tweeters of Turn Ardern and tweeters of Islamophobia. The Christchurch man selling MAGA hats – “Make Ardern Go Away” – on TradeMe once wrote he would destroy “mosque after mosque till I am taken out”. Give me the misogynist, to corrupt an old saying, and I’ll show you the Islamophobe. Simone Weil, the French philosopher, would recognise in the turn to Europe – and the turn against women – a classic “uprooting”. In almost every country material comfort and security often rely on cutting the cord between a person, the past, and a present community: removing Indigenous people from their land; separating citizens from their homes and families in one place for work in another; and reducing people to their supposedly “innate” categories (race, gender, etc). These uprootings, in Weil’s words, are a “sickness of the soul” that leave men especially vulnerable to demagoguery. In their search for past and present connections they turn to “false conceptions” like patriotism and national greatness, and at the core of each in 2020: hatred for and fear of women.
What’s notable about this neo-fascist movement isn’t necessarily its reach but its mode. Online, yes, but more importantly: politically free. Other than finance, the alleged shooter had no political or bureaucratic restraints. He could post all the tell-tale things he apparently did, and it seemed neither the police nor the spy agencies would ever flag it. He could acquire the semi-automatic weapon the Crown charge him with using with nothing more than a gun licence – and the seller was under no obligation to log the purchase. And he could move between Australia and New Zealand’s practically open borders with only a passport and a straight face for the eGate. I hope you register the irony in this. Borders were the very thing the alleged shooter was desperate to enforce against the Muslim hordes. After moving to New Zealand, ostensibly to plan an attack back home, the 28-year-old found instead that “the invaders were in all of our lands”. Even at the bottom of the world in formerly lily-white Christchurch. “Nowhere was safe”, he wrote. The alleged shooter, in a bonfire of pomposity and self-regard, actually did think himself at the centre of a civilisational struggle between the out-bred West and Islam. In the mind of the manifesto writer, massacring Muslims would enforce the borders the supposed sell outs in government wouldn’t. But in allegedly killing the innocent people he did he wasn’t taking on a powerful soon-to-be majority. Rather, on one side is the 28-year-old with all his political and social freedoms, and on the other are the shooting’s victims who were living their lives under significant political and social restraints. The spy agencies were dedicating their resources to “Islamic terrorism”, not the alleged shooter’s terrorism. Police commit more resources to “street gangs” – that is, Māori – and barely even bother with the alleged shooter’s brothers and sisters in white power. The immigration department, as any anecdote can confirm, focuses disproportionate attention on non-white entries, and the only people who move freely between borders are people like the 28-year-old. In short: non-white people live their lives under scrutiny and surveillance. The government’s official response to the Christchurch shooting is to extend that scrutiny and surveillance to, well, white people. Jacinda Ardern is leading reforms to gun laws and the rules governing how online users share violent, racist, and other objectionable material. Last month the country’s top spies told a parliamentary select committee that they’re keeping watch on dozens of suspect characters. Police, even a year on, are still making home visits to destroy illegal weapons and otherwise interview lurkers and posters. The changes, taken together, rightly remove the freedom and options the alleged shooter had, and make it almost impossible for his comrades to organise. Yet as good and necessary as those changes are some of the structural conditions that produce the racial distinctions the alleged shooter holds so dear are left intact. In organised debating one of the famous moots is the “balloon debate”. In it each speaker, usually arguing on behalf of someone famous, proposes why the others shouldn’t toss him or her over the side of a hot air balloon in order to save the others. It’s a riveting hypothetical, placing six people in disaster’s mouth and exercising the collective choice to doom one and rescue the others. But for anyone who understands how it feels to have their apparent merits and demerits subject to “debate”, with someone else drawing up a balance sheet in red and black, it’s horrendous. The idea is we’re born equal, but after that all bets are off. This is what women, takatāpui, Māori, Muslims, and other deviations from the “norm” deal with most days. Are we worthy? It’s the same principle that organises immigration to New Zealand: who’s worthy? In our system the government literally attaches “points” to the world’s hopeful according to their potential for improving the lives of the hosts. Good English? Points. A tertiary qualification? Add to the tally. Assets? You’re basically in. The system’s political champions admire this approach for its rationality. Unlike the US where immigration sometimes relies on a lottery – eg the American Diversity Immigrant Visa – or just keen racism – i.e. the Muslim travel ban – New Zealand immigration is hassle-free and non-discriminatory. It’s a self-serving argument, of course, because an immigration system where the purpose and function is defining inclusions and exclusions (who’s in and who’s out) is never neutral. When Winston Peters calls for tighter English language requirements, for example, that’s really an argument for conferring an advantage on applicants from the Anglosphere over people with equivalent skills or greater need from other parts of the world. This isn’t explicitly discriminatory, at least in the sense the exclusionary threshold doesn’t depend on a person’s race, but the impact is racist in that one group of people (mostly white) enjoy an advantage over another group (mostly non-white) thanks to nothing more than the great good fortune of being born an English speaker. It’s a perversity. Yet this is what border systems, including our points system, do: they force you to think about inners and outers. The threshold between the worthy and the unworthy. This is one reason the refugee-led campaign to end the “family link policy” was so important. In removing the rule barring African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand (unless their family were already here) the campaigners saw to one of the worst racial exclusions our border system made. If you’re an optimist you might hope the other racist exclusions in our border laws – like The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, the legislation stripping Samoans of their Privy Council-confirmed New Zealand citizenship – are but a campaign away from abolition. I’m a pessimist. I suspect most people imagine borders as objects, a line in the ground demarcating our country from theirs. Yet the American southern border, as one example, is notable more for “the Wall’s” absence than its presence. The northern border is even less dramatic, a largely wide-open space with fences here and there to pen in the farm animals. In New Zealand airlines usually enforce the country’s borders thousands of kilometres from our actual line on the map. Under the Advance Passenger Screening programme carriers only board passengers with the appropriate documentation. 📷 A POLICE OFFICER DEMONSTRATES ILLEGAL GUN MODIFICATIONS. (PHOTO: RNZ / ANA TOVEY) It’s another marvellous technocratic achievement, appointing airline staff as de facto border patrol agents. But like the points system the screening programme’s impacts can end up perverse and racial making it almost impossible for refugees and asylum seekers from “non-visa waiver countries” (i.e. the developing world) from ever making it far enough to lodge a claim for protection in New Zealand. The programme, more than anything else, exposes borders for what they really are – a list of biased inclusions and exclusions – and the structural violence borders perform are in whom they include (the English-speaking, the educated, the wealthy) and who they exclude (the desperate, the poor, the mostly brown and black). The alleged shooter and the neo-fascist movement understand a struggle is happening over the nature and function of borders. This man recognised new borders – the “balkanisation of the US” – as the only way to guarantee “the future of the White race on the North American continent”. His comrades, like the neo-Nazi who went on a stabbing riot on a train in Oregon, claim their end goal is smashing the US into competing ethno-states. For them – and their king in President Trump – reconfiguring the borders, whether as policy changes to the inclusions and exclusions or new border lines entirely, is the best way to guarantee their political supremacy this century. Are borders by their very nature racist?
I took my last trip to Christchurch a month and a half after March 15. I had a speaking engagement with Network Waitangi Otautahi, the local tauiwi Treaty group. I thought about putting it off. Post-March 15 the only conversations that seem urgent and necessary are about March 15. Taking up space felt wrong, and even stepping off the plane felt intrusive. The city was grieving. Even the affect was off. People were unusually quiet in public spaces. In private one person I spoke to was literally in tears. We weren’t talking about March 15 at all but she was thinking about it every day. Even that felt like I was taking up space. Am I here to grieve too? I thought about Sam Neill breaking down in a taxi when the news broke, openly weeping, and how he took comfort from his Muslim driver. Hmmm. I spoke, in the end. Not entirely comfortably, but an intervention of one kind or another felt right after the racism debate went from “individual hate” to “firearms access” to “the internet”. Each is its own valid connection, sure, but it felt as if all the most important connections were missing. In the English-speaking world it’s fashionable to name private, individual acts as “racist”. The intolerant, unfair, or simply racial things that fall out of people’s mouths. Like “cheeky darkies” on the 7pm telly. But it’s unfashionable, of course, to name racist systems. Instead bureaucrats and opinion-makers opt for euphemisms like “unconscious bias”, reducing racism to a state of mind and not a systemic design. This is why I thought it important to issue a reminder, in the very small way that I could: racism is a social relation. It’s the principle governing the relationship between coloniser – the people who took this land and built the institutions to control and profit from it – and colonised, the people from whom the land was taken and the institutions built to protect and exploit the founding theft. The same principle shapes the relationship between citizens – people who enjoy all the rights the state confers – and non-citizens, outsiders who must prove their worth through their contribution to citizens. 📷 These are the systemic conditions that produce racism – unequal power relations – and it’s what makes it so easy to condemn the Māoris or the immigrants or whoever else. When one people are up and the other are down, and the scales are apparently resistant to any remedial attempts to balance them with Treaty settlements or an increase in the refugee and asylum seeker quota, it makes it seem as if their disadvantage is a state of nature and not a centuries-long project to exclude certain people from prosperity. To the alleged shooter his victims were by their very nature irredeemable, abusing the West’s generosity, and he understood himself as enacting the same permanent exclusions his ancestors made, from the Crusades to the war on terror. In this sense, the alleged shooter was an individual racist. Of course he was. But in another sense he was taking our exclusionary systems to their logical end. Is there any response to savagery like this? The government’s reforms are one. I entirely support them. And yet they fall so short. People will still define their identity in different nationalisms, just like the alleged shooter did, so long as there are racist border system to enforce them. Neo-fascists will still define their identities against women as long as there is an unequal “domestic sphere”, an unequal workplace, and a society where one group – men – accumulate and exercise disproportionate power over another – women, trans people, non-binary people. That makes the struggle against the alleged shooter’s politics longer than his trial, his probable conviction, and his probable imprisonment. It’s a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. On my read Simone Weil’s original, vital insight is that as people and communities we find our identities in the obligations we owe – and in the obligations owed to us. In those reciprocal relationships we find meaning and purpose. In the give and take, in its delights and frustrations, and in the everyday work of making a home in these islands. This is where we find our roots, connecting to each other in different ways – whether as Māori or women or Muslims – but never excluding. “They are us” is an inclusion. They are us is an affirmation. They are us is also an urgent and uncomfortable call to action. As New Zealanders, it’s our responsibility to take on every exclusionary system, whether it’s racist borders or enduring gender roles. The memory of those who lost their lives on March 15 demands no less."
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