Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ring

I watch
you
step into the
cafe with a
sad
smile.

It happened
again.

I seethe
inwardly, knowing you're
here
to tell me
things
I
already know,
we
already
know.

I nod your
way,
pointing at the
two
hazelnut lattes
I got for
us.

You
smile.

You make your
way towards
me,
every step
ringing
in my
ears.

I notice
 the sway of your hips
 the gleam on your ring finger
 the skip my heartbeat makes

You notice
me
too.

You place your
bag
on the
table, and ask me about
life.

Words
tumble
from my
lips
while thoughts of
us
run through my
head.

You laugh.
You agree.
You know.
You
sigh.

You touch my
hand.
You touch my
heart.

"I can't anymore,"
you whisper,
 softly
 lovingly
 crushingly.
"You know that."

I look into your
eyes and see the
pain in
mine.

You extend your
hand,
touching
my gold
ring, and shake your
head.

And leave.


Written as response to a prompt from raskolnik_.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Laugh

I see you step into the coffee shop and stare.

There's just something about you, the sparkle in your eyes, the smile on your lips. Your bright red earphones give a hint of color that contrasts against your dark hair, much like how your laugh echoes in the dreary seriousness of this rainy afternoon.

I see you look for a seat in this full café and secretly hope you see the empty spaces at my table. You light up when you do, and you have a spring in your step as you make your way towards me.

You ask in a singsong voice if the seat is taken, and I shake my head. You smile and leave your bag alone with me, a stranger you don't know yet.

You order green tea and a cookie from the bar. I see you make your way to the hand-off plate, and you cover your mouth in an attempt to hide your chuckle. I wish I could help you; I'd press my mouth on yours to prevent your blithe laughter from tumbling out.

You take your tray and make your way towards our table. You look at me without looking at me, your attention in disembodied voices. I clear it out, making space for you.

You smile and say thank you as you slide the tray on your side of the table. I nod and duck behind my computer screen, a barrier of numbers and letters keeping you safe from my conversation, safe from me.

You drink your tea and nibble on your cookie, oftentimes pausing to whisper inaudible words and giggle. I want to ask you what you're listening to, why you're in this coffee shop, how I can be a part of your life.

But I sit here, absorbed, hoping you'd take notice of the one across your table, the one who would tell you anything you want to hear, the one who would do anything for that little laugh that takes their breath away.


First posted on /r/disguisedcyclone.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Ranked Experience: What I Learned After Playing 600 Ranked Matches On Town of Salem

Enjoy the queue time while it lasts, boys. We're going in.

So lately, I've relapsed into playing too many Town of Salem games again, and quickly bumped my 500 hours to 800 hours. However, I spent very few of the last 300 hours in All Any, where I played my first *few* games. I have instead delved into the wonderful world of Ranked.

A world where BGs refuse to protect revealed Mayors like Erlich here, since they do not wish to die for politics.

To be clear, 600 games isn't actually a lot. I mean, the scoreboard shows that the players with the most Ranked games have around 5,000+ matches under their belt. Still, I'd like to believe that it gave me an adequate look into how the world of Ranked looks like for a newbie.

But first off...


What is Ranked?

The Ranked Game Mode is a mode in the game that is the closest thing to competitive TOS, since it's got an Elo rating system. In case you're not aware,

... an Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in competitor-versus-competitor games such as chess. (from Wikipedia, retrieved 27 April 2017)
In TOS, your Elo will determine the skill level of the players you will face in a Ranked game. Everyone starts off with 1200. Each win adds Elo, while each loss makes you lose Elo. The amount of Elo you win or lose is actually dependent on the players you're with, and the roles that are present for the game.

In a nutshell, Ranked is a place where TOS players can use their role and their wits to make their team win. Unlike other modes, this is a high stakes, high pressure environment, due to the presence of Elo. Ideally, everyone knows how every role works, and you're paired with people who are at the same level as you are.

The players you're with are mere reflections of yourself. 
That, or all the good players are doing productive things with their lives, unlike you.

Now that's the ideal setup, so how does it actually play? 


Prepping For Ranked

Before you can play a Ranked match, you need to play at least 50 games in other modes and 10 games of Ranked Practice. After all, you need to have learned the basics before even stepping into competitive play, which is filled with experienced players who are expecting the best from their (supposed) teammates.

Uh, so, let's get that other guy now.

Personally, I only stepped into Ranked after give or take 900 non-Ranked games, and let me tell you - it was a whirlwind for me. Ranked is nothing like the rest of the game modes, not even Ranked Practice.

I believe that the only real way for you to improve in Ranked is to actually BE in Ranked. This, for me, meant taking blows to my self-esteem with each match, since I felt pressured from the get go to improve. After all, my faction was counting on me to be competent, right? Everyone else's Elo depended on my skill to counter my rivals' claims.

Unless it's the will of God. I can't CC that flummery.

So if you're thinking that playing tons of non-Ranked games will prep you for competitive play, yeah, no. Just grit your teeth and dive in. Trust me.

At this point, I'd like to say it gets better, but...


You'll Get Reported For Stupidity

With Elo on the line, people are itching to win. They don't care if you joined the Ranked queue for the first time and still figuring out how things go. If you're not performing the way you're "supposed" to be performing, expect people to report you for "gamethrowing."

Gamethrowing, you say?

Gamethrowing: Several different definitions exist on the topic of gamethrowing. More often than not, the context of this rule violation relates to intentional gamethrowing. If a player intentionally reveals information that causes their alignment to lose a game, and if there is evidence that the player did it with malicious intent, then that is gamethrowing. (from the TOS Wikia, retrieved 6 June 2017, emphasis supplied)

So if you don't know your way around Ranked and unintentionally revealed information that, well, made your faction lose, then too bad. You probably gamethrew without meaning to, but fast-typing *ahemSALTYahem* players probably filed a report for you already.

REPORT HIM FOR BEING A POTATO.

Because that's just how Ranked is. A lot of people expect you to have played enough games to know how roles work. Thus, if you don't play the game the ~meta~ way they expect you to, they instantly think that you're probably gamethrowing.

But let me be honest here. I may have played 900+ matches in the other game modes, but I was still surprised by the quirks of each role I got in Ranked. (Like how Lookouts can see people visit themselves or how a Retributionist can check if the Townie they lynched that day is a Disguiser or not.) And that was just how the roles worked. How to use that knowledge to win a game is a totally different matter altogether.

Did you know that, as Werewolf, you could also attack the dead medium that seances your target at night? 
(Also, in this game, just me the WW and Moly the exe-less Jailor were left. Life is good.)

However, these are things you probably only learn after playing (and losing) many, many Ranked matches. Until then, keep your head up, listen to the conversations going on, and queue again.

(By the way, if you leave early, you could be reported too, especially if you left Day 1. It is rumored to be common practice for Elo farmers to leave ASAP if they don't get a Town role, and an absent role usually messes things up for the different alignments. So be wary of that.)


VFR, start with RB'd TP'd RT TK CC 

One of the first things I observed about Ranked games was that the chat can go by pretty fast - and you will have no idea what's happening. Even Day chat can be unreadable, thanks to all the abbreviations seasoned Ranked players use.

I spent a lot of time in All Any before, and while people tend to be chatty there, they're usually just random chats about random things. (Latest GoT trailer, anyone? Hey, I like Doctor Who too! Pirate theme FTW, make all non-pirates walk the plank!) In Ranked, however, each and every word you say (and don't say) will be scrutinized. If you try to ask a question about the game or even what certain terminologies mean, you'll be automatically labeled as scum and find yourself hung, executed, or shot by a vigilante that night.

Or killed by a Werewolf that doesn't like you.

Even your voting pattern will be analyzed. Why did you not vote the obvious Godfather up for trial? Why did you choose to vote innocent on the Werewolf? Why did you start the vote on the Jailor claim?

Oh, and don't get me started on the tactic that most TOS players love to hate: voting for roles or VFR. For no reason at all, you can be voted up, just so the Town can figure out who's who based on your claim. If you're not ready with a role and will when you are, chances are high that you will be lynched ASAP. (For the record, I hate VFR because it just kills the fun for me. Give me bad clues and deception or give me death.)

Passive towns always lose, so might as well go aggro.

The Ranked environment takes some getting used to, but just keep playing, read the Wikia from time to time, and check out a guide or two or three. You'll be eased into it after a few hundred games or so, don't worry.
Don't forget to practice your speed voting skills, too. They may save your life someday.


"GG Town scrubs. I'm jester"

If there's something I really, really enjoy about Ranked, it's the fact that you'll never know what people will claim or how people will play the game.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very good at deception at this game, and I dread getting an evil role (unless it's Neutral Evil/NE). Nevertheless, I do enjoy seeing people make really weird claims and end up being a role that the Town did not expect them to be.

As so, it's great to see different players stretch their words, their claims, and their wills to get someone killed, lynched, or executed. I am constantly in awe of clever Townies and Mafia members, especially those who are great at scumreading - and at manipulating good scumreaders to create havoc.

 
Or just confusing Survivor claims named Strawberry, the poor dear.

This, for me, is what Ranked's all about. Ranked is populated by a somewhat more intelligent player pool, and I appreciate that. I can battle wits with smarter players and, best of all, learn from them as I attempt to git gud at this text-based roleplaying game.


Competitive? Experienced? Join the queue for Ranked today!

These are just a few of my first impressions of Ranked, and definitely do not cover the entire Ranked experience. There are more than a few intricacies to Ranked mode that I have not tackled here, but may discuss in another article. (Perhaps with some insights into The Coven update, yes?)

Ranked may sound daunting, and I'll admit: I was really nervous for the first 50 or so Ranked games I played. As I said in that other TF2 article, I am a rather phlegmatic person, so I have a tendency to care a lot about my fellow Townies and/or conspirators. As so, I felt pressured to do my best.

Happily enough, sometimes the Mafia has a tendency to care about Spies, too.

However, it's a really fun mode that sharpens your wits and introduces you to like-minded players. It's a fun way to play Town of Salem, and a way to really get into the lore of the game and discover the different nuances of all 33 roles they currently have out.

So come along and queue up. We've got Elo farming to do.


What were your perceptions of TOS's Ranked mode? If you haven't played it, why haven't you? If you do, what have I missed? Let me know in the comments below!


Disclaimer: Most of the stuff I have written here were based on my experiences in Legacy Ranked, which is more or less the state of things before The Coven update. There have been (and will be) changes to the roles and the actual gameplay, so take a few of things I've said here with a grain of salt.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano

http://amzn.to/2oROsmK

I have always loved rain. There's just something in its pitter-patter on the sidewalk, the petrichor it leaves, the wistfulness it brings about.

As so, it surprised me to know that someone named Rain would hate days when her namesake falls from the sky.

And fall she does. In Fall Like Rain, a book by Ana Tejano, Rain encounters deep, brown pools she would love to drown in over and over again - in her best friend's eyes.

Unfortunately, she isn't quite sure if he, Mark, feels the same way about her. So she clings to him as they dance, shifting their toes in and out of the friend zone, unknowing whether to stay in line or take that dangerous step into love.

Add to that the fact that her cousin Lissa is moving in next week, and she may just have taken an interest in Mark too.

Fall Like Rain is a whirlwind of a tale, centering around a busy career woman caught between a family she doesn't know and a good friend she knows too well.

It's a simple enough story, but one woven in the lives of the millennials of Metro Manila. A story wherein, despite the ease of communication technology brings today, people still find it hard to share their true emotions with one another - even if they see them every day.

Peppered with the opinions of good friends, a surprisingly nice ex, and the usual flash floods, this book is a look into the relationships we have with the people around us, the food we share with our loved ones, and the uncertainties we are faced with when it comes to relationships.

Read this book to reminisce the could-bes and the what-ifs. Read this book to remember the electricity of a touch and the crush of disappointment. Read this book to recall fond memories of your family and the scent of your lola's good cooking.

Read this book to fall like Rain.


Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Again

Here I am
again.

Drinking in your
sorrow
between my sips of
tea.

You're talking about
that person
again,
the one who
never calls back
never listens to you
never seems to
love you
like
you them
or
me you.

Today, you opt for a strawberry sundae
to douse your
pain
while I choose English Breakfast
for
mine.

I see you swallow the sweet
with bitter
tears, allowing the cold
to numb
your crushed
heart.
(It is as
bitter
as the tea
I've been drinking
that has lost its
warmth
from staying with
you
for so
long.)

You tell me
the same things
you've been telling me
for the last
6 months
you've been
together.

You tell me
the same things
you've been telling me
for the last
8 years
we've been
together

as
friends.

Friends.

That's what they always say you two should be.
That's what you always say we two are.

You fall
and fall
and fall
in love with
someone else,
while I fall
and fall
and fall
for
you.

Today,
you cry
and wonder
when you'll ever find
your
someone.

Tomorrow,
you will get
up
and find
a someone,
a someone
that's not
me.
 
Me,
I will
smile
pay for your
drink and your
time
and take another sip
of the bitter drink
I will always choose
with
you.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bittersweet

I see you
walk into this
coffee shop
every
day.

You enter the
doors,
buy a large
upside
down
caramel
machiatto,
and walk to your
favorite
table.

You used to have
another
corner,
but it has been
taken
by another
that you are
taken
with.

You lay down your laptop
bag,
remove your cup's
cover,
enjoy its sweet
fragrance,
and take
a drink.

A little bit of foam
usually covers
the top
of your lip,
and I wonder
if it is
as sweet
as the caramel
I
slowly
precisely
lovingly
pour
on your coffee
every
day.

You take a few more sips,
sometimes swaying to the
music
that I started playing
all the time,
ever since you said
it was your
favorite.
As you silently
sashay
on my mind,
your eyes never leave the
corner
you gave up
for another.

I notice you
 notice them
 noticing you
but never
noticing
me.

You never
see
the smile
I give you
when you say
my name
as you order
the coffee
I make
only
for you.

You never
feel
the touch
of my hand
when I give
you your
change,
a small
spark
as electric
as espresso.

You never
hear
the thank you I say
each time
you go,
leaving behind
the
moments
you
and I
imagine
in this

space.

I know you will
never
see
me
while seeing me
every
day.

But
I will be
here,
making
your coffee,
enjoying
your smile
as I make your
drink
perfect
every time,
drinking in the
bittersweet
of a
secret.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Moment

Hello, you.

Yes, you.

Sitting in this coffee shop, 
 your brow furrowed,
 your fingertips on your laptop,
 your mind trapped
  between your work and a cup of Joe.

You come here often,
 almost as much as I do.

You usually order a
tall
brewed
coffee
with one cream.

On other days, when you enter the doors
with
a wide grin
and
a heart full,
you get a large
soy
mocha.

You have a corner
(it used to be my
corner, until you came)
where you carry your
 drink
 and plug in
  your laptop
  your mouse
  your headphones
  your
stress.

Sometimes, 
I notice you 
  notice me
  noticing you
but only
for a second.

One
cursory
glance.

But while your eyes are on me
your thoughts are in
 the words you type
 the lights that dance on your screen
 the cup you press
to your lips.

I often wonder
if we work for one man
and he destined
for us to be 
coworkers
in this little

space.

Hoping the cups we drink 
are ample substitutes
to the watercooler
he will not
pay for from a
million 
miles away.

But your eyes flit to your computer, 
always clouded with
 unending deadlines 
 bills overdue
 worries
of your success.

I know this because 
my own screen pulses
with 
 dreams
 desires
 doubts.

I hope one day
you will look
up to see
me
raise my
cup
at you
with
a smile
and a silent
hello.

And I hope
on that day
you will
lean back
raise your
cup
and have a moment 
with
me.