Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Mystery of the Pokémon Cards

I am something of a flea-market and second hand store addict. While I haven't really done any huge bargains or found any long lost artworks I almost always find something fun or interesting. Like the Turtles board game or a bunch of the Mighty Max playsets. 

A while back I found a nice looking Pokémon folder and since I was actually on the lookout for one and it only cost 40 kronor (ca 4 euro) I decided to buy it. After a quick glance in it I noticed that it was actually full of Pokémon cards, which was a nice addition and especially for that price. A closer look and I realized that every single card was a rare foil card - all of them were EX. Roughly 100 of them in fact. 

My kid has added a note, making sure no one tampers with them.

I was flabbergasted. I wasn't sure what to do. Return to the lady who had sold it and explain to her that she must've surely sold the very hard and expensive labor of her child by mistake? 

By the time I had realized the extent of the rare cards in the folder I was already back home and curiosity and laziness made me decide to keep it. (Maybe also greediness? While I knew I was unlikely to sell them, I rarely sell stuff, it's always fun and cool to own something that's somewhat valuable).

I showed them to my family and we were all excited together. We started to really pick through the cards and give them a thorough look. They looked so pretty, so shiny... and also after a while I thought they looked somewhat... odd. 

For instance, I noticed that when compared to other foil cards in my collection they looked considerably darker and harder to read. There was something off about the foil quality of these particular cards. Even though it was very good, it was definitely different. Once I started to get suspicious I quickly noticed a few other discrepancies when comparing them to cards I knew for a fact had come out of a booster pack. All the shiny cards in the folder had a little bump along the edge of the rim, like it had been attached to a bigger piece of card at some point rather than cut out smoothly like original Pokémon cards seem to be crafted (little bump too tiny to be pictured with my phone camera). Also the folder-cards were noticeably stiffer, even when compared to other full-foil cards.

Can you spot the fake?

Further scrutiny revealed clear differences between the back of a real card and one of the folder cards. The folder cards were somewhat darker and with less contrast between the colours.

How about now? Hint: The right one.

Not long after I had come home with the folder it was decided, every card in it was fake. And what fakes they were! I have come across Pokémon fakes before, and every time it has been extremely obvious that they had been tampered with. And it was fairly obvious with these cards as well, especially once you took them out into the light and held them in your hands. But even then, the pictures with their shiny foil must've been hard to make I imagine and the cards surely neither easy nor cheap to produce?

In a way I was happy they were fake. I didn't feel like I had tricked some nice lady at a flea-market. None of us liked them any less and I could let my kids play with them without being worried they'd rip 10 euros worth of card in half. Since we only play each other we can decide whether we should allow them in a deck or not which still means we got 100 really nice and cool new cards to play with.

And it still stands as one of the most interesting finds I have made at a flea market, because I still wonder how someone went about making these.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Toxic Behaviour, Retail vs Classic

Apparently toxic behaviour is enough of a problem in retail to warrant the inclusion of a "social contract"? Just another reason to stay away from it, but it's really too bad.

I can't remember if toxic behaviour was a big problem back in old WoW, maybe my rose-tinted goggles are blinding me from all the douche-bags I came across. I definitely had to deal with a few, and even the occasional ninja. And I was definitely the object of some really annoying ganking-sprees. But not so much that it ever ruined my fun of the game (ok, the ganking PvP was actually really annoying. So much so that I vowed to never play on a PvP server again).

I really have not come across any angry players in Classic though. Everyone is so lovey-dovey it's almost a bit eerie. It might be partially because of the above-mentioned reason of me not being on a PvP server anymore, that definitely eliminates a lot of possibilities for people to wind me up. Also, maybe, Classic has managed to attract a bunch of more mature players. Not that I could point at what exactly makes a player mature, I know it's nothing as simple as age, necessarily. 

Yet there is something. The people I talk to don't get angry when we wipe even to the most stupid things. I wiped an entire pugged raid on Malacrass in Zul'aman by simply running into the boss when no one was ready. How is it even possible? I can't explain. But we all horribly died and not a single mean word, however well deserved it would've been, was said. Kudos to those people (they all probably secretly blocked me)!

It would be so interesting to make a study on why toxic behaviour is a massive issue in some games and not in others, and especially when you've got two games that are essentially the same (retail and Classic)! Understanding group psychology like this is a major reason to why I went into studying psychology in the first place.

The people I pug with now will tell me what music they're listening to, or talk about their favorite foods. They'll excuse each other if someone needs to deal with a kid or a pet or has a bad computer. They'll talk about the good old times or tell me this is their first time playing WoW. They'll group up to make sure everyone gets the quest mob. They'll help you with a quest in the middle of nowhere because they were in the neighborhood. I've received so much good from random people in WoW I have a massive payload of pay-it-forward to deal with. I can't even imagine what retail must be like, but I picture some sort of social wasteland of angry radscorpions, ready to turn on you and sting you even if you offer them a lift over a stream.

"I can't help it, it's in my nature".

I think a social contract can be a good thing though. It really doesn't change anything about the game, it just tells people the obvious, but also gives Blizzard something to point at when things aren't going the way they want. We do this some times at my work actually (I work with people with intellectual disabilities). We'll discuss what kind of work space do we want this to be, agree on something together and when something happens we can say "hey there, you were part of deciding on how we treat each other, remember?".

It won't reach the people it needs to reach. If someone needs a social contract to act nice to randomz on the internet, I think a social contract is never going to be enough. But like I said it will give Blizzard something to point at and say "you've agreed not to behave this way when you decided to play this game". And maybe, hopefully, that will be enough.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Malacrass Zul'Aman - Resto Shaman PoV

Another video of my resto shaman killing a boss. I jumped straight to Malacrass because I find he is probably the most interesting boss to heal in Zul'Aman. He really does make me miss my aoe healing priest even more though. Spamming chain heal is not my idea of a great time. I am glad I had a resto druid co-healing this with me, it's a good match-up (I am very impressed with the holydin I've done this fight with as well, since this must be the worst fight to heal).

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Akil'zon Zul'Aman - Resto Shaman PoV

Just a video of me killing Akil'zon in Zul'aman with one of my guilds. I actually don't even like resto shaman healing that much but here I am, for some reason... In TBC resto shaman is still pretty boring. While I have some interesting things to do with my totems, I only have three healing skills and it gets repetitive very quickly. Maybe I should respec to enhancement, which I really like, and get a move on my healing priest instead.