Y'know those commercials with Doctor Rick helping people that have turned into their parents? I feel like I'm one right now. I'm sitting there, playing my Xbox Series X and he turns to me with a compassionate voice. "Okay, we don't need a $500 console to play Trivial Pursuit."
But here I am. I'm in my early 40's, and I love trivia. What can I say? I am who I am. Jeopardy is literally the only TV show that I actually make an effort to watch live on a consistent basis. People in real life know me as the Jeopardy Guy. They talk to me about Jeopardy the way you'd talk to others about sports. "Hey, did you catch Jeopardy last night? Could you believe that Final Jeopardy question?"
I've been a trivia fan for as long as I can remember. I've been following Jeopardy closely for at least a decade. But before that, when I was younger and my knowledge was less spread out, I'd still enjoy trivia. I'd watch things like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and fantasize over who I'd use as my lifelines. In my younger days I'd love stuff like Beat The Geeks or Rock N Roll Jeopardy.
And Trivial Pursuit was a board game I was always down to play. Even when I was younger and not all that good at it. I was interested in seeing what I knew. Over the years I've picked up various editions like the 90's one or whatever. And I'll play Trivial Pursuit any chance I can get. Sometimes my wife and I will bring out the game. Sometimes I'll challenge my brother in law to a game. But realistically, it's not always easy to find time for a board game. And thus, enter Trivial Pursuit Live.
To be clear, Trivial Pursuit Live is not a perfect recreation of the board game. In fact, it's played more like a TV game show based on Trivial Pursuit questions. But it is definitely a lot of fun. There are several different modes over the course of five rounds. The first is the most obvious: you're asked a question and given four options for answers. The second round is similar, but each player (out of four) selects the category, and if that player answers the question correctly, they get triple the points. There's a round where they're a huge board of answers, and you're given a category ("Which of these were villains in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon?" "Which of these are movies starring Scarlett Johansen?"). There's a round where you must choose the best remaining answer, with scores handed out on a scale. And the final round is a sudden death where you're given only two options for answers, and a wrong answer bumps you out. The last man standing gets a pie.
To be honest, I'd be fine playing the whole game with just the standard questions and four options for answers. But the variety does keep things moving along and fresh, I'll give it that. I've played a bunch of games over the past week and have yet to see repeat questions which is refreshing. Overall, the AI offers a fair challenge. I did try to hop online to play some multiplayer rounds, but at this point there's already a sequel to this game, so I imagine any player base is probably playing the newer one instead of the original game. It was a ghost town for sure.
At the end of the day, this is a digital trivia game. It's not for everyone. But I do love stuff like this. The rounds are a brisk 25 minutes or so to complete, making it a great game to play a couple rounds before bed.
There was a time, maybe a decade ago now, where I was a huge PC gamer. It seems funny now because I don't even have a PC in my house anymore. When my daughter was born, my game room became the playroom. Out went the PC and various retro consoles. And as I write this now, I have a three year old and I'm actually struggling to even remember what the layout of my gaming room even looked like.
But way back when Hearthstone was released, I was a heavy PC gamer. And when I heard about this new card game, I thought it might be a fun change of pace. I downloaded it and became obsessed, for years. I got other friends into it. I bought expansions. I experimented with deck builds. I was so into Hearthstone that I remember going on a vacation with my wife in 2016 and I actually bought an Nvidia Shield tablet just so I'd have a reliable way to play the game while we were out of town.
Eventually my addiction cooled off. I want to say that this was around 2017 or so. But one thing was for sure - Hearthstone was a gateway drug. I have tried many other CCG's over the years since. Lightseekers was a big one for me for a while there. And Slay The Spire is probably my favorite. But I dabbled with plenty of others, and they all had to live up to Hearthstone because it was my first.
When my birthday came this year I had a little mad money to blow and decided I wanted a new Android tablet. I had been doing some gaming on my phone, but I kind of hate gaming on a phone. So I went with a Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite because it had some very decent specs for its price, yet was small enough to feel portable. And as I started digging through the Google Play Store I figured why not give Hearthstone another go?
I guess it shouldn't have been shocking to me, but it turns out that Hearthstone had continued evolving in the five or six years that I was absent from it. As such, all of my old decks were no longer playable in the current season. So this was going to be an interesting way to approach the game - completely new to the bulk of its cards and meta. And after starting a new Mage deck (Magical Mastery) I'm seeing the highs and lows of coming back to such a deep game after so long.
Because I've had to learn an entirely new deck made up of 30 cards that I was not so familiar with, Hearthstone has taken on a fresh facelift for me. I still appreciate the bite-sized competition found here. And it's still rewarding to set up the perfect victory. Over the past three weeks or so, I've found myself building other Mage decks as well and tweaking them and trying to build something that feels really suited for my play style. But that's not always easy unless you have a lot of time to commit to experimenting with deck builds and even doing internet research on cards you don't know about. Over the past year or two I've done this with Slay The Spire, but I don't know if I have it in me to do it again with a game that I already spent years on. And I mean, this revisit has been done almost exclusively with the Mage class - nevermind all the other classes that I've forgotten how to play.
I will say that this has been a nice walk down memory lane, though. It's been compelling in short bursts. A few quick matches can sometimes end up sucking me in for an hour or more. So yeah, Hearthstone is still a quality card game. But I don't seem to have the desire to recommit to it again now. I found myself getting up to Silver-7 rank over the weeks, only to find that I'm hitting a brick wall once I get to that level because you start to encounter people who actually know what they're doing and have crafted decks with good synergy. Good for them, though!
At the end of the day, replaying Hearthstone feels like I'm catching up with an old friend I haven't seen in five years. We exchange our niceties and have a few laughs about the old days. But we've both moved on in our lives, and we're just not that close anymore.