Victoria records 3 new local cases and 0 new overseas cases
New cases reported in the last 24 hours
+3 new local cases:
All three of the locally acquired cases in the community have been identified as primary close contacts of the existing cases in the Mentone and Mitcham clusters.
There are now exposure sites in Albert Park, Bairnsdale, Black Rock, Box Hill South, Brighton, Camberwell, Cape Schank, Caufield, Cheltenham, Doveton, Forest Hill, Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, Hallam, Glen Waverley, Lakes Entrance, Leongatha, Mentone, Mordialloc, Melbourne CBD, Moorabbin, Mount Waverley, Oakleigh, Southbank, and Wonthaggi and we expect this list of exposure site to increase over coming days as contact tracing continues
+0 new overseas cases.
Recap from yesterday:
All 18 of the locally acquired cases in the community have been identified as primary close contacts to the existing cases in the Mentone and Mitcham clusters.
Genomic sequencing results have been received from the samples from the Victorian outbreak, and it has established they are directly linked to the New South Wales cluster.
There are now exposure sites in Black Rock, Brighton, Cape Schank, Cheltenham, Doveton, Forest Hill, Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, Hallam, Glen Waverley, Lakes Entrance, Leongatha, Mentone, Mordialloc, Melbourne CBD, Moorabbin, Mount Waverley, Oakleigh, Southbank, and Wonthaggi and this list of exposure site will increase over coming days as contact tracing continues.
⚠️ There are new case exposure sites, please see information below.
Viral fragments have been detected in a sample of wastewater taken from the inlet to the Lakes Entrance wastewater treatment plant on 29 December. The Department of Health and Human Services is urging anyone in the Lakes Entrance area with any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, no matter how mild, to get tested and stay home until they receive their result. Bairnsdale Regional Health Services drive-through testing site is open from 9am to 5pm on New Year’s Day and over the weekend.
Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early. The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster. In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly. The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged. Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms. The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist. The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale. ‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing. It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment. Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge. That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted. The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions. Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge. Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it. Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales. Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others. This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse. Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away. These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk. If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced. If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober. The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs. The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them. This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame. Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier. There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language. What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand. That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough. If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses. As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial. The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt. Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame. This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’ So Stokes punches him. It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road. Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks. Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him. Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended. Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop. Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance. ‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’ The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’. The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back. After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed. If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence. Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued. ‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass. A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’. The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now. Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa. It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’. The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
Class Trial 66: The Murder of Sonia Nevermind - Part 1: 1stMIX
Let’s suppose, hypothetically, just for the sake of the argument, that you were in need of an explanation of the rules of the Class Trial. And, further, let’s assume that I am the one capable of providing you, in this hypothetical scenario, with such an explanation. It must, without a doubt, logically follow that this explanation would be summarized as “you all need to find out who murdered Sonia Nevermind.” Okay gang? The idea that it would amount to anything other than that is just silly. It’s just... wrong! Axioms don’t care about your attitudes!
Monokuma File: Sonia - The victim of this case is Sonia Nevermind. She was found dead at the bottom of the middle of the Three Lakes between the Casino and Hotel Kumasutra. She died during night time. The cause of death is asphyxiation.
Winter Wear: The victim was found wearing generic winter clothes to stay warm such as a jacket, pants, and some gloves. In addition, instead of her trademark neck ribbon, the victim was found wearing a fluffy red neck scarf.
Sonia’s Shoes: Extensive scuffing marks on the back of the victim’s red high heels and tears on the back of her black leggings were discovered.
Sonia’s Scarf: Worn by the victim instead of her trademark neck ribbon. It has been wrapped to cover the victim’s neck. On a free end of the scarf, there is a small hole, and near it are traces of blood.
The Motive: For the first motive of this Killing Semester, Monokuma threatened that if a murder doesn’t happen in the next twenty-four hours, then he will make their parents forget they ever existed.
Emergency HVAC Maintenance: A malfunction in the outdoor HVAC system was detected some time in the afternoon, so Monokuma had to repair it overnight. He announced that temperatures in the Courtyard would drop to -10 C (14 F) during the night. The system was reactivated to normal operation at 8 AM when Monokuma gave the morning announcement. All indoor areas maintained room temperature overnight.
Free Access to the Labs: In the prologue to the Killing Semester, Monophanie announced to the class that all Research Labs at the Academy would be open and its doors kept unlocked 24 hours a day, allowing anyone free access to utilize them.
Wax Residue: Visible traces of black wax were found at the lower-level Plaza next to a bench adjacent to the TV post.
Letter to Gundham: Delivered to Gundham’s dorm room some time yesterday afternoon. It reads: “Gundham, I may have found a way to escape. Do not talk to me today. We are being watched and everyone is potentially dangerous. Meet me at 6:30 AM outside the Dormitory. -Sonia”
Letter to Sonia: Found on the victim’s person during the investigation. It was delivered to Sonia’s dorm room some time yesterday afternoon. It reads: “Sonia, I may have found a way to escape. Do not talk to me today. We are being watched and everyone is potentially dangerous. Meet me at midnight at the Shrine of Judgement at the lower level of the Courtyard. -Gundham”
Gundham’s Account - Sunrise: Gundham claims to have left the Student Dormitory at 6:25 AM this morning to meet with Sonia at the Shrine of Judgement at 6:30.
Gundham’s Account - Sonia’s Corpse: Gundham further claims to have found the victim’s corpse at 7:00 AM lying on top of the middle of the frozen Three Lakes. He claims to have attempted to save her by walking onto the ice to extract her from the frozen lake, but in his attempt fell immediately through the ice and passed out to hypothermia shortly after exiting the lake.
Flattened Patch of Grass: During the investigation just after 9 AM, Gonta, with his extremely sharp vision, noticed that there was a small patch of flattened grass of approximate size 30 centimeters by 15 (12 inches by 6 inches) behind the TV stand at the lower-level Plaza. According to Gonta, taller grasses like those found in the Courtyard when flattened typically do not stand up until twelve hours have passed.
Sonia’s Belongings: Kazuichi was granted permission to search Sonia’s dorm room and her belongings during the investigation. Among other things, he found the last book she was reading, “Spooky People and Spookier Places,” which covers cults, the occult, and serial killers, as well as Sonia’s Monopad, which seems to have been there for some time as it has sunk into the mattress. You can read the book HERE.
Sonia’s Wristwatch - During the investigation, Sonia’s corpse was found wearing the watch on her left wrist. The watch seems to have been broken at some point: its hands are stuck, and turning the crown on the left side no longer changes the time. Monokuma assures the watch kept an accurate track of time up until it was broken. A visual is available in Supplements in the Summary Sheet (not yet up as of now) .
Sonia’s Wristwatch Supplement - The watch is made by TIMELY, a Novoselic-based watchmaker. It is a simple yet expensive and luxurious golden watch with white even-length clock hands and a rose-pink dial.
An Account of Wax Dolls: During Daily Life, Angie, Gonta, Kaede, Mahiru, Maki, Makoto, Rantaro, and Sayaka discovered lifelike wax doubles of each student hidden away in the Art Room closet. Knowledge of their existence was kept to themselves.
Rantaro’s Account: In the prologue to the Killing Semester, Rantaro went up to the Ultimate Survivor’s Lab in search of dossiers he prepared at an unknown prior time. Upon arrival, he discovered they were missing.
Click [HERE](LINK) to visit the Summary Sheet. (not posted as of now)
In the Summary Sheet, you can easily access alibis, catch up on key moments, and inspect materials supplementing the currently available Truth Bullets. The Trial has finally started! Let’s get this show on the road. You have seven days to solve this case (ends 12/24 at 1900 UTC-5, 12/25 0000 UTC). I may make comments here as the Trial progresses.
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Trump has been in Russia's pocket a long time here is more reading for those interested in the history. Trump was over a billion in debt and the Russians bailed him out. ► Trump was first compromised by the Russians in the 80s. In 1984, the Russian Mafia began to use Trump real estate to launder money. In 1987, the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations, Yuri Dubinin, arranged for Trump and his then-wife, Ivana, to enjoy an all-expense-paid trip to Moscow to consider possible business prospects. Only seven weeks after his trip, Trump ran full-page ads in the Boston Globe, the NYT and WaPO calling for, in effect, the dismantling of the postwar Western foreign policy alliance. The whole Trump/Russian connection started out as laundering money for the Russian mob through Trump's real estate, but evolved into something far bigger. ► In 1984, David Bogatin — a convicted Russian mobster and close ally of Semion Mogilevich, a major Russian mob boss — met with Trump in Trump Tower right after it opened. Bogatin bought five condos from Trump at that meeting. Those condos were later seized by the government, which claimed they were used to launder money for the Russian mob. (NY Times, Apr 30, 1992) ► [Felix Sater](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Sater } is a Russian-born former mobster, and former managing director of NY real estate conglomerate Bayrock Group LLC located on the 24th floor of Trump Tower. He is a convict who became a govt cooperator for the FBI and other agencies. He grew up with Michael Cohen--Trump's former "fixer" attorney. Cohen's family owned El Caribe, which was a mob hangout for the Russian Mafia in Brooklyn. Cohen had ties to Ukrainian oligarchs through his in-laws and his brother's in-laws. Felix Sater's father had ties to the Russian mob. This goes back more than 30 years. ► Trump was $4 billion in debt after his Atlantic City casinos went bankrupt. No U.S. bank would touch him. Then foreign money began flowing in through Bayrock (mentioned above). Bayrock was run by two investors: Tevfik Arif, a Kazakhstan-born former Soviet official who drew on bottomless sources of money from the former Soviet republic; and Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman who had pleaded guilty in the 1990s to a huge stock-fraud scheme involving the Russian mafia. Bayrock partnered with Trump in 2005 and poured money into the Trump organization under the legal guise of licensing his name and property management. ► In July 2008, the height of the housing bust, Trump sold a mansion in Palm Beach for $95 million to Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch. Trump had purchased it four years earlier for $41.35 million. The sale price was nearly $54 million more than Trump had paid for the property. Again, this was the height of the recession when all other property had plummeted in value. ► Semion Mogilevich was the brains behind the Russian Mafia. Mogilevich operatives have been using Trump real estate for decades to launder money. That means Russian Mafia operatives have been part of his fortune for years. Many of them owned condos in Trump Towers and other properties. They were running operations out of Trump's crown jewel. ► So many Russians bought Trump apartments at his developments in Florida that the area became known as Little Moscow. The developers of two of his hotels were Russians with significant links to the Russian mob. The late leader of that mob in the United States, Vyacheslav Kirillovich Ivankov, was living at Trump Tower ► According to a Bloomberg investigation (3/16/2017) into Trump World Tower, “a third of units sold on floors 76 through 83 by 2004 involved people or limited liability companies connected to Russia and neighboring states.” ► In 2013, Federal agents busted an “ultraexclusive, high-stakes, illegal poker ring” run by Russian gangsters out of Trump Tower. They operated card games, illegal gambling websites, and a global sports book and laundered more than $100 million. A condo directly below one owned by Trump reportedly served as HQ for a “sophisticated money-laundering scheme” connected to Semion Mogilevich. ► The Russia Mafia is part and parcel of Russian intelligence. Russia is a mafia state. That is not a metaphor. Putin is head of the Mafia. So the fact that they have been operating out of the home of the president of the United States is deeply disturbing. ► Rudy Giuliani famously prosecuted the Italian mob while he was a federal prosecutor, yet the Russian mob was allowed to thrive. Now he's deeply entwined in the business of Trump and Russian oligarchs. Giuiani appointed Semyon Kislin to the NYC Economic Development Council in 1990, and the FBI described Kislin as having ties to the Russian mob. Of course, it made good political sense for Giuliani to get headlines for smashing the Italian mob. ► A lot of Republicans in Washington are implicated. Boatloads of Russian money went to the GOP--often in legal ways. The NRA got as much as $70M from Russia, then funneled it to the GOP. The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee lead by McConnell got millions from Leonard Blavatnik. In the 90s, the Russians began sending money to top GOP leaders, like Speaker of the House Tom Delay. Craig Unger's book alleges that most of the GOP leadership has been compromised by RU money. ► At the Cityscape USA’s Bridging US and the Emerging Real Estate Markets Conference held in Manhattan, on September 9, 10, and 11, 2008, Donald Trump Jr. was frank about the tide of Russian money supporting the family business, saying "...And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets." ► Eric Trump told golf reporter James Dodson in 2014 that the Trump Organization was able to expand during the financial crisis because “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” ► It's believed that Russian oligarchs co-signed Trump’s Deutsche bank loans. ► Alex Navalny has insinuated Paul Manafort passed along Trump's campaign information to the Kremlin via Kilimnik. In a 25-minute Youtube video (Russian with subtitles), Navalny shows footage of Deripaska with Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko on his yacht in Norway in August 2016. Based on that footage, he alleges that information about the Trump campaign must have passed between the two. Senate Intelligence Report I believe concluded Paul gave the information to known Russian asset but that we have no proof this asset gave the information to the Kremlin? Im hoping someone in the comments has some more on the Paul Manafort accusation to perhaps clear this bullet up in a future edit. Trump now gleefully takes cues from Putin: ► Trump went against American intelligence on North Korean missiles. He told the FBI he didn't believe their intelligence because Putin told him otherwise. “I don't care, I believe Putin" ► Trump met in secret with Putin at the G20 summit in November 2018, without note takers. 19 days later, he announced a withdrawal from Syria. ► Trump refused to enforce sanctions legally codified into law - and in some cases reversed standing sanctions on Russian companies. ► He has denounced his own intelligence agencies in a press conference with Putin on election meddling - and publicly endorsed Putin's version of events. ► Demanded Russia get invited back into G7 ► Pushed the CIA to give American intelligence to the Kremlin. ► Withdrew from the Open Skies treaty EDIT - First want to say thanks for taking the time to read the post. Please take the time to also VOTE this election. Also thank you various users for the rewards and support. On to actual edits :) Firstly I've removed the link to Trump / Russian bounties allegations. Which was the last point in the post originally due to its lack of factual evidence. Second I've changed a few points wording. Third I've added a new bullet at the end that was passed a long to me yesterday by another user in another thread about Trump and his campaign manager. Fourth I'd like to point out that this post is a collection of points from various other users in other threads and I personally don't want to take any credit for this post as I'm just carrying the torch with this post of several users before me who compiled many of these points.
[OG+REMAKE SPOILERS] I'm Gonna Do It, I'm Gonna Talk About The Cat. Part 2 Theory.
Cait. Sith. Is. Valid. Also, buckle up, this is a long one. For those who dont remember, Cait Sith is a playable character in FFVII who appears as an anthropomorphic black and white cat wearing a small red cape and a gold crown. In later installments, he has a Scottish accent and no longer rides on that huge moogle robot thing. Cait Sith is a character that is tied directly to Reeve Tuesti, his creator and the man who is able to assume control over him from time to time. In so many videos and articles and such, Cait is often pinned as the "worst thing about FFVII" or "the most useless Final Fantasy character". As for me, personally, I actually like Cait, but I have come up with a few ways to get more on the fence people to warm up to him. Behold, my FFVII Remake Cait Sith Theory/Speculation. First things first, all of those people who think Square will entirely cut Cait out of the game are wrong. No, seriously, he's already in the Remake. He made a short cameo when the Sector 7 Plate fell. So many people were confused as to why he seemed so upset. One person, I don't remember who, wondered "Why would Reeve make Cait be all dramatic like that???" So, firstly, I thought it was common knowledge that Cait wasn't entirely remote-controlled, but oh well for the sake of this theory I'll have you know that I'm looking at it as though Reeve is not puppeteering Cait 100% of the time. He has an AI, at the very least, but for now, AI does not mean sentience, by the way. But Cait has a programmed personality, voice (the reason that Cait has a Scottish accent and Reeve doesn't), and movements. He may or may not become sentient but that's a story for another time. Also the reason Cait would have a personality and programmed "emotions" is so 1, he can calm people who are distressed during a crisis so they can get to safety, 2, he can further convince people of things using emotion in his voice to appeal to their sympathy, and 3, I dunno Reeve wants him to be more than just a robot. Now, this programming is the reason he spies on the group. I doubt Reeve has the time to sit and watch everything that happens, so maybe Cait sends a sort of report to him about any important info he gets in the day, if any. The thing is, maybe you can have a few scenes where Cait is showing uncharacteristic reluctance or regret over being a spy. Making him more sympathetic. The reason Reeve would even use Cait as a spy? Well, Avalanche is still the cause for the plate falling. If Avalanche hadn't bombed the reactor, Shinra wouldn't have viewed them as a threat, the plate wouldn't have been dropped. Reeve most likely doesn't know about the reactor being Shinra's fault moreso than Avalanche. You can see that Heidegger and President Shinra are the only ones in the room during that scene. Now, Reeve was in the room for the plate falling, he knows Shinra caused that, and he attempted to stop the President (to no avail). By the way, it is my theory that during that conversation or immediately following it, Reeve dispatched Cait to go to the pillar to stop the Turks, or maybe to issue an evacuation. Reeve was not controlling Cait at this time, so Cait's despair was his own, he was upset that he failed his mission and failed to save Sector 7. Another reason why he has programmed emotions, so he can have determination and investment in his mission, and the regret experienced when failing will make him figure out a different way to solve similar problems. So, while Reeve knows Shinra caused the plate falling, he probably does not know that Shinra caused the reactor 1 bombing to be much more deadly that it would have been. So, in Reeve's and subsequently in Cait's eyes, Avalanche is a threat just as much as Shinra is (and you could say that's kinda true, looking at being a threat to people, not the planet btw). Both hurt innocents. So Reeve could be trying to help the Turks get Avalanche out of the way so he could focus again on trying to mitigate the damage Shinra causes on it's own. Also, maybe it just isn't up to Reeve. If he refuses to do what Shinra wants him to, he will lose his job. You would think that losing your job could be survivable, but with Shinra and Reeve's position in the company, actually it isn't. Reeve knows company secrets, so he would be a very major threat. The Turks would probably have to either assassinate him or imprison him somewhere where he can't spread the truth. So, with that being said, there's your motives for Cait being a spy. Now, onto making Cait himself more likable and more useful. Firstly he can have a manipulate ability. In OG, he joins the party with a manipulate materia, though that materia never really became useful. I think, in Remake, manipulation can be simular to that thing Aloy can do in Horizon Zero Dawn. Basically, Cait can make monsters fight for us for a period of time. So using one monster to kill the others for you or distract them while you are healing or running away. That could have some use, especially in the Remake. Now, Cait fights by using a giant moogle as a sort of... mech. He rides on top of it and shouts commands... using a megaphone... This concept is pretty goofy and kinda cute, but I don't really think they should keep it in the Remake. So, remove the moogle mount. Now, what to do with his weapon? Sure, you can still kinda make him fight with a megaphone but why would you do that? So, inspired by an original concept (so it's not that far fetched), Cait can fight using whips and/or cards. The way this can work is when you purchase weapons for him, the name will be something like "Iron Whip" and the card deck that comes with it will be grey cards. Basically, the cards will be a color, the whips will be of different materials. But when purchasing, it'll just name the whip, the cards aren't named. That is thinking that the cards will even change. Maybe Cait can equip different whips. And the cards part of it will be abilities/movesets. Like, an ability can be named after a card game and he can fling a bunch of cards at the enemies simular in style to 1,000 needles. His abilities can be themed after casino based things and slot machines and all that, but they aren't actually slot machines. Example, his limit break, Slots, isn't randomized. It does the same attack every time, like Cloud's Cross-Slash. But the animation involves a slot machine. A slot machine appears with a bunch of fancy lights and Cait hops onto the switch, the slots roll, all three land on Cait's face, then I dunno, it explodes onto the enemies or sends projectiles at them or something. Another idea I had for his "Dice" attack could be him rolling a bunch of dice, and flinging them at the enemies, the dice exploding on impact kinda like grenades or something. Another thing to make him better in the eyes of those who dislike him, he can have some minigame uses. When at an inn or resting place, and all of the characters are just chillin, doin their own thing, you can walk up to Cait, and when you talk to him, after his dialog, there's an option to play a game. When you click it, Cait hops up all happy and more options pop up. You can unlock mini games as you progress, so there can be things like darts. They can do a card game as a reference to Tetra Master and Triple Triad (from FFIX and FFXIII, respectively), a memory game, anything really. So, there you go, another use for Cait Sith. In regards to level design, Cait can actually come in really handy. He is a robot created by someone in Shinra, so he would be able to hack into some Shinra tech to open doors and proceed through dungeons. This could come into play in part 3, or whenever the party gets arrested by Shinra and are brought to Junon. So, he's a hacker. Nice. Aslo, Cait is a lot smaller than the rest of the party, so he could squeeze into spaces that the others couldn't. Just a thought, and also another reason why he shouldn't have the giant moogle. Okay, now, this is a lot, but I have one last thing to talk about. His intro. So many people don't like Cait that I really don't think anyone would mind if his intro would change. Unlike the points people made in my post about Vincent, where some people pointed out that a lot of fans feel an attachment to his OG introduction, there's not much thats really... iconic about Cait's. Yes, I know, the way he joins the party is supposed to be sudden and weird because he's a spy and your supposed to be all like "oh that is... that's suspicious". But hey, I just wanna see who else thinks a new intro could be nice. This is purely for funzies and I don't actually think they're gonna introduce him like this. It's too specific for a theory so this is more of a "hey wouldn't it be cool if" kinda thing. Alright, for the sake of this, I'm assuming Remake part 2 goes up to at least Gold Saucer. Long story short(er), we find Cait in a casino. Maybe he runs the casino, maybe he's a prominent member. Anyway, he claims that you can win a better amount of GP (special points that work as currency in Gold Saucer) by playing his card game then with any other game. So, Cloud sits down to play. After you play the game, or maybe it's interrupted, there's some commotion at the entrance of the casino. Cloud looks over and almost everyone has stopped playing to look as well. None other than Elena of the Turks walks in, spotting Cloud. She is obviously looking for Avalanche, and has found them. (Also you can assume that Cait pretty much set up this whole thing.) They get ready to fight, when Cait springs up and says "Wait, you can't fight here, there's not enough room! You'll break things or hurt people! If you have to fight, do it in the Battle Square!" So, you go to the battle square and beat up Elena (also yay! She gets a solo boss fight! Next is Tseng getting a boss encounter and we'll be able to fight all of the Turks solo). When your about to defeat her, reinforcements arrive and... yeah, there is just way too many of them. Then suddenly, a smoke bomb goes off, and Cait rescues Cloud. They regroup at that Haunted Hotel, and Cloud explains everything. Everyone decides that it would be a good idea to leave, but then they hesitate. Where's Barret? Tifa says that he could be at the battle square, where else would he go? So, reluctantly, the group moves back to the battle square, avoiding the Shinra troops that are now crawling everywhere. The park has a completely different vibe to it, the music is no longer blaring, and instead someone from Shinra is on the speakers telling everyone to keep a lookout and report any strange individuals. Once we get into the Battle Square, we see that all of the Shinra infantrymen that were in there are all dead. Shot to death, each one. Then Barret runs in. So it wasn't Barret? Anyway, Dio, the owner of Gold Saucer, emerges, blames you for the deaths of not only the soldiers but a few staff members as well, and throws you into the desert prison, also notifying Shinra of your presence. This leads into Dyne's story and eventually Cait will convince Dio to let us go, or maybe we highjack a Shinra vehicle and escape the prison that way. *long exhale So, to wrap this all up, Cait has a good reason to be a spy, he can make enemies fight for him, he fights with whips and cards, when talking to him at an Inn or resting place you can play minigames like a card game similar to Tetra Master from FFIX or darts or maybe a memory game, and lastly he has a more interesting and memorable intro at Gold Saucer. ALL RIGHT! I'M DONE WOOOO I'M TAKING A BREAK!
Il mio viaggio nella Storia del Cinema: dal 1965 al 1968
E con questo ho finito il diario di viaggio per ora, perché sono alla fermata del 1969 e ne avrò ancora per qualche settimana prima di vedere tutto quanto voglio vedere. Poi metterò nero su bianco. Alla prossima! 1965 Prima di dare una rapida scorsa a quest’anno con qualcuno dei film che ho amato di più mi piace fare anche qualche altra segnalazione: tra le mini-serie è nota quella con Juliette Greco: “Belfagor”, che è un mystery molto lento per i nostri gusti, ma l’ho finito lo stesso tutto perché mi piaceva. Parte quest’anno la felicissima serie di “Giochi senza Frontiere”, che per una ventina d’anni fu uno degli appuntamenti più amati dei telespettatori italiani. In tv vanno ancora i fantasy come “Strega per amore”, con Larry Hagman prima di far soldi col petrolio. Esordisce Sally Field nel telefilm “Gidget”, aveva 15 anni. Passiamo ai film allora, ma devo lasciare da parte Zivago, Connery, Dentone, Giuletta degli Spiriti, Michael Caine, Leone, Burton, Carrà e Julie Andrews. Ahimé. “Repulsion” di Polanski è una delle più belle prove di Catherine Deneuve, che più guardo i suoi film più entra di prepotenza nella classifica delle mie attrici preferite. La Deneuve qui è una ragazza che ha qualche problema: è ossessiva, soffre di disturbi psichiatrici, ha delle allucinazioni. Il suo status peggiora una sera che resta da sola a casa. Nessuno si accorge veramente di quanto soffra e la ragazza peggiora sempre di più, con risvolti drammatici. Dico solo che la scena della crepa nel muro è fenomenale. “Io la conoscevo bene” di Pietrangeli, è un film con Stefania Sandrelli e Mario Adorf. La Sandrelli ha avuto tipo tre carriere: quella di giovane star italiana, quella post-Brass e quella di attrice di esperienza che sta vivendo adesso. Il suo sguardo timido e dimesso di questo film ha molto in comune con quello della Cardinale prima maniera. La Sandrelli vede infrangersi sul selciato le sue speranze di diventare una star del cinema perché gli uomini che le girano intorno la sfruttano e la illudono. Tra questi c’è Adorf, che è un attore che mi piace un sacco. Un genitore tedesco e uno italiano, Adorf si è mosso senza problemi da un set all’altro mostrando enorme versatilità: lo trovi nelle commedie italiane anni ’60 e lo trovi nei film tv tedeschi alla Derrick, per lui nessun problema. “La vita corre sul filo” di Pollack, con Poitier e Bancroft è un thriller che si svolge nello sguardo di Sidney Poiter e nell’ansia di aiutare una donna che dall’altro lato di un telefono amico segnala la sua volontà di suicidarsi. Poiter non è esperto, ma è di turno, e ormai ha preso in carico il caso. Tutto quello che deve fare è trattenere la Bancroft a lungo, molto a lungo, affinché possano rintracciare la chiamata e impedire il suo gesto. Questo film è interessante perché non c’è mai nessuna allusione al colore della pelle di Poitier, non è rilevante per il plot. “Rapimento” di John Guillermin con Patricia Gozzi, Dean Stockwell e Melvyn Douglas. La Gozzi l’ho citata già in un film con Hardy Kruger. A me questa attrice piace molto, è davvero intensa e drammatica. Qui veramente siamo in un contesto di puro e assoluto squallore, perché la Gozzi vive una vita solitaria in un luogo isolato col padre Melvyn Douglas. Un giorno arriva nei dintorni un evaso, e la Gozzi fa amicizia con lui. Lei ha bisogno di vivere, mentre il padre vorrebbe tenerla in casa e buttare la chiave. È uno di quei film che sembra che fuori sia autunno e che piova anche se è mezzogiorno di una giornata di maggio. “La decima vittima” di Elio Petri, vede Mastroianni e Andress in un futuro imprecisato darsi la caccia a vicenda. C’è una specie di reality show in giro in cui ci sono i cacciatori e le prede. I cacciatori devono uccidere 10 prede, e le prede devono sfuggire loro. Non si può mai sapere i gusti della gente. Questo futuro ha comunque i colori degli anni ’60, lo stile e la criniera di Ursula Andress che guarda caso è una delle più brave cacciatrici. Deve far fuori Mastroianni, ma prima vuole un po’ giocare al gatto e al topo. “Bunny Lake è scomparsa” di Otto Preminger, è un cupo thriller con Keir Dullea, Carol Lynley e Laurence Olivier. A dire il vero Olivier ha una parte molto marginale, fondamentalmente è il film della Lynley e di Dullea. Per chi non avesse dimestichezza con questi volti, la Lynley fu attiva a cavallo tra i ’60 e il ’70 ed è una delle vittime del Poseidon, mentre Dullea è la star di 2001 Odissea nello spazio ed è un attore che si è sempre fatto i fatti suoi, non è mai diventato star di prima categoria, ma si è scelto delle parti interessanti come questa qui. Insomma Dullea è il fratello di Lynley, e non si trova la bambina di lei. L’hanno portata a scuola, ma nessuna l’ha vista, le maestre non l’hanno vista, le amiche nemmeno. Questa bimba non esiste. La Lynley se la sarà immaginata? Lei è certa di avere una bimba, è certa, esiste! “Il collezionista” è uno dei film meno noti di William Wyler, con Terence Stamp e Samantha Eggar. Stamp, di lui non c’è mai da fidarsi. Ha deciso che invece di collezionare farfalle gli piace collezionare ragazze, e un giorno cattura la Eggar e la chiude nel suo scantinato. Lui non ha fatto niente di male, la Eggar viene trattata coi guanti, ha da mangiare, ha di che svagarsi, ha tutto, basta solo che sia felice di essere reclusa a vita da un pazzo e che non provi mai a scappare, che ci vuole? 1966 Eccoci al ’66, che bello quest’anno di cinema, bello! Qualche riga su altri generi e poi passo ai film che mi vien voglia di ricordare. “Qolga” è un corto che ho trovato in youtube del regista Kobakhidze. Si tratta di un ragazzo che vive da solo lungo i binari del treno e ha un’amica che ogni tanto lo va a trovare. All’improvviso un ombrello prende vita e inizia a volare da solo. In quest’anno parte la serie “Tre nipoti e un maggiordomo”, con Brian Keith e 3 baby star, ciascuno con la sua dose di sfortuna personale. Questa serie ha i colori e le moquette giuste per immergersi negli anni ’60. Ovviamente questo è l’anno di “Star Trek”, di “Batman” e “Mission impossibile”. Si tratta di tre serie di culto che tutti ovviamente ben conoscono. Tra i rari film tv di buon livello degli anni ’60 c’è uno di Rossellini: “La presa del potere da parte di Luigi XIV” che è anche uno dei film preferiti del padre da parte di Isabella. Poi esce la famosa versione animata del Grinch che ruba il Natale. “Chi ha paura di Virginia Woolf?” è il film che regala a Liz Taylor il suo secondo oscar. Ci sono solo 4 personaggi (vabbé 6 c’è una scena al bar) che sarebbero Liz Taylor e il marito Burton, George Segal e Sandy Dennis. Sono uno più bravo dell’altro. Nel film sono due coppie, una che sta insieme da un po’ e l’altra di recente formazione. Burton e Taylor hanno un passato difficile da superare, ma tirano avanti. La loro casa è lo specchio della loro persona, è piena di cose ingombranti e fuori posto, e tra i due ci sono frecciatine ogni secondo, qualcuna passa inosservata e qualcuna fa assai male. I due sposini sono praticamente scioccati. La scena cult per me è quando Liz Taylor dichiara al marito che pur con tutti i suoi difetti non è comunque un mostro. Sandy Dennis pure brava assai è una delle attrici dimenticate di fine anni ’60. “Persona” è un film di Bergman in cui ci sono due donne, Bibi Andersson e Liv Ullmann. La Ullmann è muta e la Andersson è la sua infermiera. La Andersson parla parla e la Ullmann ascolta e ascolta. Il legame tra le due è forte e particolare. Si vedono sempre più spesso e la Ullmann sembra migliorare, mentre la Andersson mostra una certa inquietudine. Parla, ma a se stessa, e la Ullman risponde anche senza dire niente. Lentamente i loro volti cominciano a somigliarsi sempre di più, e la voce di Bibi diventa la voce di Liv. Non c’è più distinzione tra le due, sono diventate una persona sola. Si stanno fondendo. Ma non è mica possibile una cosa simile. “La nera di…” è un film di Ousmane Sembene, cioè uno dei primi e rari film di autori africani. La storia è molto semplice, c’è una ragazza senegalese che va a servizio in una casa di una coppia francese. Lontana dalla famiglia la ragazza ha il suo lettino, le sue riviste, le sue scarpe, le sue sensazioni, ma la coppia presso cui lavora la considera come il vaso a centro tavola o il quadretto appeso accanto alla porta. Le giornate passano e la ragazza si spegne poco a poco. Tutto qua, ma provate a vedere lo stesso se è tutto qua. “Incompreso” è il drammone strappalacrime di Comencini con Anthony Quayle che diventa vedovo e non si accorge della sofferenza del primogenito, che si sacrifica per il bene del fratello minore viziato dal papà. Non che Quayle sia cattivo, per carità, è solo che non se ne accorge. Il ragazzino gli vuole bene lo stesso e un giorno un ramo fa crac e lui si fa male. Madonna quanto si piange con questo film, cioè è impossibile, nel senso che è non-possibile non commuoversi quando papà e figlio si parlano finalmente a cuore aperto. L’attore protagonista ha recitato solo questo film, oggi è un medico, è stato bravissimo con almeno 4 esse. “La caccia” di Carlos Saura è un film in cui ci sono alcuni amici che vanno a caccia di conigli. Fa troppo caldo. Dovrebbero dar retta ai conigli, ma invece si mettono a ricordare il passato e non so chi glielo fa fare, perché da quel momento nessuno più è al sicuro, e si danno la caccia a vicenda. Vediamo chi ci resta secco. Davvero c’è tanto in quest’anno: Manfredi e Adorf alle prese con San Gennaro, le solitudini dell’uomo e la donna di Lelouch, i russi che sbarcano negli USA e Fahrenheit 451 di Truffaut. Poi Polanski gira Cul de Sac con la sorella della Deneuve, Eastwood non manca un colpo e le foto di Antonioni di Blow-up dove le mettiamo? Mi sono divertito un sacco con la partita di poker di “Posta grossa a Dodge city”, e l’asinello Balthazar di Bresson è uno dei finali più drammatici della storia, non pensavo che avrei retto tutta la visione di “Andrej Rublev”, e invece sì, e poi c’è il realismo mai visto della “Battaglia di Algeri”. E potrei anche continuare. Uno dei miei anni preferiti insomma. 1967 Siccome col 1966 ho preso per le lunghe, volevo sintetizzare col 1967, ma pure qui c’è un sacco di bei film. C’è pure “The big shave” che è uno dei primi lavori di Scorsese. Un uomo si rade e si taglia. Purtroppo per lui, il taglio non è un taglietto, giusto così perché si trova in youtube e dura 5 minuti. Il mio film preferito di quest’anno è “La calda notte dell’ispettore Tibbs”. Io non l’avrei mai detto, mi dovete credere, ci avrei scommesso nemmeno 2 centesimi perché i polizieschi un po’ mi stufano, e poi i film che parlano di razzismo negli anni ’60 siccome li sto vedendo in sequenza ne ho visto un casino e poi forse il titolo non mi ispira, ma invece sono rimasto attaccato subito dai primi minuti, adoro Steige e Poitier, e quando Poitier schiaffeggia a sorpresa il tizio nella serra vi giuro è una delle scene più intense e belle e vere, ho cliccato su 10 su IMDb e da lì non cambio idea. Il problema è che ho messo 10 anche a “indovina chi viene a cena?” che ha il dubbio onore di essere il film dagli albori al 1967 che ho visto più volte in vita mia, ne conto con certezza 6. Potrei dire di che colore sono i fiori nei vasi e quanti calzini ha Tracy nell’armadio. In questo film per me funziona tutto, mi manda dei brividi di nostalgia di un’epoca della quale sono un prodotto culturale, sono un GenX nel midollo probabilmente e sarà per quello che questo film non mi stanca mai. Non ce la faccio a non segnalare almeno il titolo di “A piedi nudi nel parco” e devo dichiarare che anche se il finale di “Riflessi in un occhio d’oro” è qualcosa di davvero particolare, Robert Forster in quel film è di una bellezza sconvolgente. I colori di “Le Samourai” di Melville sono elegantissimi, il film è una goduria per gli occhi. Poi ci sono i filmoni da macho di Lee Marvin tipo “una sporca dozzina” e c’è Paul Newman e Dustin Hoffman, Dirk Bogard fa venire i brividi in “Tutte le sere alle nove” quando torna a prendere possesso della casa coi 7 figli che ha abbandonato e in “La bisbetica domata” la coppia Burton-Taylor funziona anche se mai lo diresti in quell’ambientazione lì. “Gli occhi della notte” vede Audrey Hepburn nei panni di una cieca che vive al piano terra di una bella casa dove ogni cosa è giusto dove deve essere, ma a quanto pare Alan Arkin è convinto che ci sia anche qualcosa che gli serve per evitare di essere accusato di omicidio. La Hepburn è all’oscuro di tutto (oddio che battuta) ma scema non è, così quando uno strano visitatore si insinua in casa sua con le scuse più formidabili lei inizia a sospettare. È uno dei thriller meglio congegnati mai visti questo qui, e non è nemmeno di Hitchcock! Non avevo mai realizzato quanto siano importanti le lampadine nel frigorifero. “New York: ore tre- L’ora dei vigliacchi”, questo titolo mi fa cagare però il film è bello. C’è la gente che prende la metro per tornare a casa, però è tardi e due grandissimi stronzi e cioè Tony Musante e Martin Sheen hanno voglia di divertirsi a modo loro, così entrano nella metro e iniziano a infastidire uno dopo l’altro tutti i passeggeri. C’è una quantità di arroganza, prepotenza e violenza gratuita in questo film che davvero la mascella si spacca dalla rabbia repressa che ti suscita. Si vede che il film funziona. È quando tu stai per fatti tuoi e questi ti devono bullizzare e non solo: la gente non alza 1 dito per aiutarti! Veramente, questo film è fatto bene. Per non parlare dei poliziotti che appena riescono a entrare nel vagone con chi se la vanno a prendere? No quello proprio non l’ho potuto soffrire! Bel film. “L’armata a cavallo” di Miklos Jancso è un film che fa venire il mal di testa. Siamo in guerra, è la guerra civile russa, ma non è importante, potrebbe essere una qualsiasi guerra. Qui non riusciamo a prendere posizione, la guerra fa schifo non importa di quale fazione tu sia. 10 minuti di film con gli occhi di una fazione e i loro progressi e le loro vittime, nemmeno fai in tempo a riconoscere i volti di queste persone che vengono fatte fuori dagli avversari, e Jancso ti trascina altri 10 minuti dalla loro parte, ti fa vedere i loro progressi e le loro vittime, i loro villaggi desolati e le torture. Ci rimani male, ma ecco che si passa all’altro punto di vista. E’ un film intelligente ed elegante. C’è ancora lo choc incredibile di “Gangster Story” con il picco di bellezza di Faye Dunaway e il sangue che esplode sulla bianca pelle di Bonnie e Clyde, così come bianca immacolata è la schiena di Catherine Deneuve, perfetta protagonista di “Bella di giorno” di Bunuel, altro film simbolo dell’epoca, un’epoca in cui andavano i film di sexploitation tipo “Vixen” e roba del genere, pieni di tette e recitazione di serie b, ma che entravano a pieno nella cultura di fine decennio, che si sta avvicinando a quel ’68 di cui tanto spesso abbiamo sentito parlare come di una sorta di spartiacque culturale. Per finire, è intelligente e complesso il volto di Bekim Fehmiu in “Protest” di Fadil Hadzic, ma che le h e le z non ingannino, il film si vede e si capisce perché parla di un’insoddisfazione che non ha bisogno di vocabolario. Poi c’è il cult camp “la valle delle bambole” con la sfortunata Sharon Tate, gli occhi penetranti della Mangano in “Edipo Re”, centomila spaghetti western, è l’altro drammone di Bresson “Mouchette”, con protagonista una ragazza che racchiude in sé tutto il bullismo subito da tutti gli adolescenti della storia della Pubblica Istruzione, veramente solo chi ha il cuore di pietra non si commuove con questa ragazza qui. 1968 Non mi pare vero che sto scrivendo del 1968 perché è l’ultimo anno che ho finito di vedere e anche se questa carrellata non vale poi molto almeno l’ho portata a termine, il che per me vale molto. Prima di iniziare una piccola deviazione: in quest’anno c’è l’esordio di Spielberg, col corto “Amblin’” da cui quindi deriva la sua casa di produzione che è la Amblin Enterteinment! Altro corto è lo sperimentale “Hermitage”, di Carmelo Bene. Tra le mini-serie esce quest’anno l’Odissea di Franco Rossi. Fu un clamoroso successo riproposto dalla tv nostrana per vent’anni. Il ritmo è lento, ma i volti di Bekim Fehmiu e quello di Irene Papas sono senza tempo. Grandissimo l’episodio con Polifemo e ovviamente il finale coi Proci. Prima di diventare nota come cantante e presentatrice, Loretta Goggi era una precocissima attrice e la “Freccia Nera” fu uno dei suoi più noti successi. Ok, allora andiamo veloci veloci, con lo stiloso “Diabolik” che era il bel John Phillip Law; le torture che patisce Alan Bates nell”’uomo di Kiev” pochi altri nella storia; Sordi è medico nella muta e Franco Nero aveva gli occhi più celesti mai visti. Sellers fa pisciar sotto anche le statue in “Hollywood Party” mentre la Vitti prende in mano la pistola e si colloca nella sua dimensione comica dopo anni di Antonioni. Rod Steiger è un gay represso ne “il sergente”, mentre Terence Stamp non fa preferenze di sesso in “Teorema” di Pasolini. Steve McQueen è l’essere più figo mai apparso sulla terra in “Bullitt” e “Il caso Thomas Crown” ma nemmeno Clint Eeastwood scherza e voglio vedere chi scampa a un impiccagione come in “impiccalo più in alto” e chi è scazzato come lui in “L’uomo dalla cravatta di cuoio”. “Fuoco!” di Gian Vittorio Baldi è la sorpresina nell’ovetto Kinder del 1968. Siamo in un paesello del sud Italia e un tizio spara alla statua della Madonna durante una processione, poi si barrica in casa, con la moglie e il bambino che se la fanno sotto, e col fucile in mano si rifiuta di uscire e di dare spiegazioni. Poche parole, un set poverissimo, nemmeno tante spiegazioni ma per 1 ora e mezza sei nella casa e forse nella testa di questo ragazzo. Bellissimo film! “La sposa in nero” di Truffaut è la storia della vedova nera Jeanne Moreau (quanto mi è piaciuto questo film) che si era sposata da 5 secondi che le ammazzano il marito sulle scale della chiesa. Pensa prima di buttarsi dalla finestra poi decide che invece le conviene dare la caccia ai killer del marito. La curva della bocca della Moreau è perfetta per questa parte e vi assicuro che il modo in cui si ingegna per far fuori quei quattro è incredibile. Purtroppo questo film mi fa anche venire in mente la storia di Marta Russo ma lasciamo perdere. “L’urlo del silenzio” è il film che Alan Arkin per me prima valeva 6, 6 e mezzo mentre adesso invece sotto il 9 non scende. Arkin è un sordo muto ed è così solo, ma così solo, che lui il lockdown ce l’ha di default. Mi fa venire la forchetta in gola. Comunque sia affitta una camera in una casa con una famiglia sgangherata ma tutto sommato ok, e fa amicizia con Sondra Locke. Ma nemmeno lei è il vaccino che può curare la sua solitudine. Malinconia a quintalate. “Duello nel Pacifico” di John Boorman ci sono 2 persone solamente e cioè Lee Marvin e Toshiro Mifune. Sono in guerra e sono da soli in un’isola sperduta. Ognuno dei due vuole far fuori quell’altro, ma alla fine prevale la voglia di sopravvivere, chissenefrega se devo chiedere aiuto al nemico. Il finale di questo film, io sottoscritto dichiaro che David Lynch l’ha visto e gli è piaciuto. E ora acceleriamo su quel pacco gigante pieno di innovazione che è “La notte dei morti viventi”, sul sudore e il calore di “C’era una volta il west”, il mio Leone preferito, sull’indelebile statua della libertà del “Pianeta delle Scimmie”, sui brividi che fanno venire lo sguardo di Sidney Blackmer e i sorrisi di Ruth Gordon in “Rosemary’s baby”, uno dei film che più mi ha fatto cagare sotto in vita mia, per dire due righe in più su “Kuroneko” di Kaneto Shindo, che è la storia di una vendetta operata da due donne vittime di stupro e poi uccise da una gang di samurai. Le due diventano dei fantasmi e uno dopo l’altro, in un’atmosfera onirica e agghiacciante conducono i samurai nel loro nascondiglio per farli fuori senza pietà alcuna. Un film con le palle. Mi rimangono 2 film, il primo è “2001: odissea nello spazio” e io ho paura a parlare di Kubrick perché su Kubrick tutti hanno un’opinione e sanno argomentare meglio di me, così mi limito a dire che questo film l’ho visto come quando giochi agli incremental e fai prestige. La prima volta 15 minuti, la seconda volta ho retto 30 minuti, la terza volta 1 ora e la quarta volta finalmente avevo le skill giuste e ho goduto da pazzi. Il mio film preferito del 1968 è “The Swimmer” di Frank Perry e Sydney Pollack, con Burt Lancaster. Lancaster si mantiene bene anche se ha già i suoi anni sulle spalle, e un giorno compare nella villa di amici, si fa una vasca in piscina e poi dichiara che se ne torna a casa a nuoto, passando da piscina in piscina, di villa in villa, lungo tutta la vallata. Armato solo del suo costume, si incammina verso la seconda piscina: una vasca e due chiacchiere coi padroni. Le persone che vede sono inizialmente cordiali e felici di parlare con lui, ma a ogni villa qualcosa non sembra andare per il verso giusto: c’è chi sbruffa, chi gli rinfaccia qualcosa, chi esplicitamente lo manda a quel paese. Lancaster stesso perde lo slancio e un po’ il sorriso. Se a un certo punto si sentiva così bene da poter reggere il confronto con un cavallo, improvvisamente si fa male e inizia a zoppicare. La villa successiva pare più lontana, e più ostile. Ad ogni villa scopriamo un pezzo della vita di quest’uomo, e lui con noi. Non possiamo sentire l’acqua sulla pelle, ma ti monta l’ansia. Lancaster pare invecchiato, i suoi piedi sono sporchi, i suoi occhi lucidi, le sue labbra sofferenti. Un’altra villa, e pare trascinarsi, e una piscina ancora, e nuota a fatica, e finalmente casa. Non ho dormito la notte perché non volevo fare il mio sogno ricorrente in cui sogno di partire dalla mia casa di bimbo per arrivare alla mia casa attuale, e parto di corsa per poi andare piano, sempre più piano, per poi trascinarmi, fino a che non vedo la porta in lontananza, e non riesco ad aprirla, mai.
The problems with PvP and why planned 5th age probably won't solve them
I have been very into the PvP-style of this game starting from 2011, although I haven't been playing the game since 2014 until last month, but the execution has always been way off. There has been some progress and some tweaks here and there, but PvP will never be even remotely balanced or populated unless the following key points are addressed:
Crowns-only equipment from packs
- It is unbelievable that this game has been able to continue with its marketing, especially to kids, with such blatant gambling elements for so long, while some other larger game companies (like EA) have finally been called out for their practices. Wizard101's casino lootboxes are literally the worst thing about the game, and it seems like they are just going more and more into that direction. And unlike many other game companies nowadays thanks to the new laws, Wizard101 doesn't even disclose the odds of receiving a certain item (I bet they are so small that people would be too de-incentivized from buying). Anyway, if this all was just cosmetics and stuff it wouldn't be such an enormous issue, while still being blatant gambling. The problem really shows in PvP, as basically everyone who wants to do well, especially in the low end PvP, NEEDS to have the OP PvP-gear, at least if they haven't already previously got the warlord gear, which they will never get without the crowns gear. The plans for the 5th age are to remove the OP PvP-gear which you can get from tickets, but in that case the crowns-only gear will just become even more dominant, only moving the problem and not solving it in the slightest. Even if the crowns-only gear would be sold for a hefty price-point in the crowns shop it would be annoying, but still better than literally having no guaranteed way of ever getting it, as the lootboxes could just drain infinite amount of money without ever giving you what you want. Unless of course, there are some hidden "pity-timers" which guarantee certain loot after a certain amount of rolls, but that information is not disclosed to us. (of course it isn't..) This point is made far worse by the additional RNG-added to the crowns-only equipment, like may-cast wands, which completely ruin any kind of semblance of a competitive experience the moment they go off. You cannot strategise against random attacks. Solution possibilities: Remove the crowns-only equipment, nerf it to be in par with the normally attainable gear, give everyone easier access to the crowns-gear, or just limit it to be non-PvP.
Ranked PvP costs to attend (to non-subscribers)
- I have played hundreds, if not thousands of games during my short life, as I think games, video games especially, are one of the greatest man-made things ever created. I also have a Master's degree in game design, and I'm currently studying a PhD-related to the topic, and I have NEVER, I mean NEVER EVER, come across another game which would charge their players for attending the competitive scene, and not offer a permanent way of unlocking it somehow (this does not include games which are completely pay-to-play, with the paying including everything, as well as PvP, like World of Warcarft). It not only does not make any sense, as you really want to have people growing a PvP-community around any kind of online-game which wants to stay active when the main PvE content runs stale, which always happens between expansions in MMOs, but paywalling a game mode will cause even the players who do play to get a sub-bar experience due to lack of players, especially new players. I completely understand that the point is and always have been to attract people to the subscription-method of paying. Well, I have to say that I personally hate subscription method as a customer, but I know that a lot of people think that's alright. To me it just feels like I have to rush and play as much as I can during a subscription, even when I don't really even want to, causing the time spent to be less enjoyable than if there was no fixed time. This is one of the main reasons WoW never attracted me, as I can't stand subscriptions. Thankfully, wizard101 has another option, paying by area. The cost of the areas is so high, and there is more added after every world, that the game would not actually make any less money by attracting people more towards the area-buying option. It would also truly incentivize developers to create new worlds more often, as the payout would be more clear. For subscription-players, adding Karamelle did not really cause a reason to spend more, as they already had access to it, so creating worlds more frequently only serves to lure back players who have stopped playing completely after their memberships ended and they maxed out the content, as the game didn't offer enough to do as a "temporarily f2p-player". This could be solved by letting everyone compete in the ranked PvP (and why not derby too) even when they are not members. This would give players a reason to login to the game when they are not subscribing, and to players who seek to mostly play PvP, it would provide more opponents. I mean seriously, what game which has this many players online for the PvE has such a ridiculously small PvP-community? Even back in 2011-2013 when the game was fairly young and I played in the UK server (had to migrate to the US this year as the server there is dead), it was basically impossible to find 3v3 or 4v4 ranked games, and even the practice games weren't that common. While I really enjoy 1v1, I think the strategic difference in other modes is something players cannot and have never been able to explore due to the lack of players. And that is a very sad thing for a game that is already 12 years old. So basically, the ranked PvP needs to either be completely free, OR there needs to be a way to permanently unlock it (preferably with gold, or at least with a reasonable crowns fee). This way players who are not members, or who (like myself) don't want to be members can still participate and bring more players to the table. You can see this change already in the tournaments being free: during the time I played ages ago and tournaments came, I never got to play a single tournament despite trying many times, as there were never enough players willing to pay the crowns fee. Now, nearly all of the tournaments start, at least for some level players and that is great. I fear though, that KI has learned nothing and will switch the cost back up with the start of the 5th Age. What some larger game companies for some reason don't understand, is that f2p-players are not worthless, they are the reason why most online-games stay online: they create the incentives for people to spend in the first place, and if you manage to keep the f2p-players happy, you will get a lot more paying players just through word-of-mouth, than if you only try to keep paying players. (We can see a terrible example of how not to do this already by how limited the new f2p experience is, still after 12 years.)
Spellments and unobtainable spells
- I'm sure no one reading this was surprised about this next topic, but as well as basically unobtainable gear, unobtainable spells and spells which are stronger than the normal versions of those and can basically only be upgraded through packs also break the "harmony" of a competitive experience. There are currently some spells which cannot be learnt other than through packs, and while not all of them are game-breaking, they can still in certain circumstances offer an unfair advantage, or even if they would not now, they certainly will in the future with the direction we are going towards. The solution for this is simple, but KI won't do it, as they are too invested in milking children for that undisclosed chance of getting some of those spells. (I won't buy a single pack personally and I will attempt to estimate how much disadvantaged I will be now and in the future for as long as I remain interested.) For the unobtainable, another part is the spells which can only be got through luck while farming. That sure is a lot better, as technically the farming doesn't cost anything as long as you have access to the area and you will get other useful rewards while doing that. The problem arises though, if those spells, especially the infamous Headless Horseman, are so strong, that you NEED to have them in the PvP to stay competitive. And to make matters worse, of course the intended way to get these spells as well is to buy packs instead of farming. (I have been testing the lorefarm, got one spell which isn't useful to me after around 100 tries. I think that's a bit much just to get prepared to be on even footing on PvP, talk about new player PvP experience.) Now then, spellments, are another kind of monster added to the game. I naturally enjoy the concept of upgrading spells, and making low-level spells more useful in the late game is not a bad design choice, it's just that it revolves around the same problem that everything I've been talking about this far, lootboxes. I know that there are some ways of farming spellments technically for free, but apart from a specific few, those are barred behind skeleton key doors, and there are no other ways to get those than farming, and.. yes you guessed it, randomly from packs! You see the theme here? And even though some of those only give minor damage enchants which won't matter too much on the average eye, the utility buffs (namely the myth's troll minion summon upgrade) are just blatant forms of p2w gambling. Solution, make spellments available to everyone more easily, not just randomly to select few whales. If KI would actually do this, despite all odds, then their purpose would actually come to reality and they would enhance the game experience, letting people experiment with different kind of combinations in the late game. Also there needs to me many more paths, only two kinda makes the whole combination idea pretty pointless. Alternatively, restrict spellments to PvE only. SUMMARY JUDGEMENT: I liked the changes to the crit system, restricting more previously necessary cards and enchanted TCs outside of PvP , and turn-based system, those are a good start, but won't make a difference if the above three points stand unchanged. The main problem in the monetization is the gambling in the form of lootboxes, which is like the worst kind of cheap mobile game experience. The game has beautiful world and animations and the basic idea behind the combat is simple, yet interesting, and it can lead to very interesting situations. Nerffing and buffing spells/items won't make a difference while the OP-items/spells from lootboxes remain as KI's main interest. Also for anyone to be able to experience something other than 1v1 ranked PvP, the first step needs to be removing the barrier of entry, or creating an option for permanent unlocking at least. I have very little hope for them suddenly changing their 12-year course and giving up lootbox-p2w from PvP, but this has been quite a year so I guess nothing is impossible. Here's for hoping. Signing off.
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