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Memorial Tournament Preview Blog
Since Riggs, Trent, and Frankie have turned their golf positions at Barstool into less blogging and more playing with themselves and selling $50 cases of soda, I decided to take a dull, butter knife stab at a preview blog for this weekend’s Memorial Tournament. Last Week Real quick let’s talk about how much we should all hate the PGA after Sunday’s off-air debacle, and then about some questionable feature groups this week. For weather reasons on Sunday, the Workday final round tee times were moved up so players could finish before incoming storms. Great, that all makes sense. But somehow the PGA was not able to broadcast the round on TV, and when they did have to kill the live broadcast, they didn’t even mention where to go watch the rest of the tournament. THERE ARE NO OTHER FUCKING SPORTS ON, WHAT COULD CBS HAVE MADE PRIORITY OVER THIS FINAL ROUND? No seriously, someone please tell me because I would love to know what aired on CBS from 11 am to 3 pm instead of live sports. Can we also talk about how terrible the Thursday/Friday coverage is every weekend on all networks? You usually get 2-4 featured groups you can stream online from 9-3 (even these groups you often need NBC Sports Gold to watch), and then get maybe 3 hours of full coverage in a TV broadcast. There is legitimately a channel called the Golf Channel, who are airing a shitty preview/talk show while you are missing coverage. Here’s a fucking mad idea - put live golf on the golf channel before the major networks get prime coverage. Then we got a look yesterday at the featured groups for the Memorial. How do you fuck this up? If you are younger than 70 and even sporadically watch golf, you could do this job better than whoever does it for the PGA. Here’s the formula: Brooks Koepka makes a joke about Bryson Dechambeau using steroids one week ago = you put them in the same group. Golf has so little drama because all these guys are friends and making millions of dollars even when they aren’t winning. Fans need these storylines/rivalries to be buffed up, not ignored because they might hurt Bryson's feelings. This Week As far as a course preview, we get a strange twist this week with the players coming back to Muirfield, who just hosted the Workday Charity Tournament. I’ve been watching golf for a long ass time and cannot remember the last time this happened, but it’s not a major headline at all so maybe this does happen on occasion. Either way the setup this weekend will look different than last weekend, with much faster greens, thicker rough, and some changes in tee box locations. I think we see some youngeinexperienced players struggle with the change in green speeds, especially since they just played these same greens and they were rolling like carpet (stimpmeter will go from 11 to 13.5). My gut tells me the winner is either a veteran or someone who didn’t play here last week. This would rule out guys like Hovland, Burns, Merritt, Niemann, etc. Finally, we have to mention that Eldrick Tiger Woods returns to the field this week. I’m looking at his +2000 odds and hate the value because we have no idea where his game is at right now. That being said, Tiger has won the Memorial five times and placed T9 last year, and T23 the year before. I will root for Tiger to win every tournament he enters, but I won’t look at a future for him at these low odds, and for his first post-break golf since The Match. Now let’s go over wagers this weekend and what you should look for. I am usually not a fan of betting on outright winners, before any golf has been played. The odds always look so good but you will rarely have a profitable year trying to bet winners every week. That being said, here are some of the best value picks IMO.
This man is -69 (nice) in his 4 tournaments since the resumption of the season, with final results of 3rd, 8th, 6th, and 1st. Not only is he launching drives 10% further than the field consistently, but his confidence is sky high and that mental edge goes a long way. Bryson also won here 2 years and 40 pounds ago, so he does like this course. But let’s not forget what a whiny bitch he is. Give me odds on if he will punch a cameraman this week and I would hammer yes.
Rory McIlroy/Justin Thomas +950
Rory holds the current #1 world golf ranking, and JT holds the current #1 FedEx cup ranking. Neither golfer has won since returning from quarantine, however they each grabbed a trophy or two early in the season (pre-pandemic). Both have seen some inconsistencies in the past month, with over par rounds or missed cuts, but undeniably still playing great golf. You might want to think about JT’s state of mind after blowing a lead and then a playoff last weekend, but I still like him to show up and be in the mix.
DJ recently daddy-dicked Brendan Todd in the final round of the Travelers, starting his final round 2 shots behind and leaving with a 1 shot victory (6 shots ahead of Todd). He might win, he might not, either way he’s going home to Paulina Gretzky and a Johnny Depp style lunch spread.
I’m going to choose to ignore Brooks’ round one 74 at the Workday this weekend, followed up by a missed cut. His previous two tournaments he posted 8 consecutive rounds under par, and a Sunday 65 to place 7th at the RBC Heritage. That being said, in my brief research it looks like his best finish at the Memorial was T31 in 2017, so maybe he hates this course. But Petty King’s hate for everyone besides himself is a great motivator. Can’t wait until we get a “suck on that Faldo” on a hot mic.
My guy Collin is less than a year removed from his amateur status, and has now made 24/25 cuts to start his career. Three weeks ago he lipped out a 3 footer to lose in a playoff, had a rough 2 weeks at the RBC and Travelers, but then he came right back and won in a playoff this past weekend. This dude is a sniper from the fairway, but can he stay straight off the tee and hole some putts? 2 playoffs in his last 4 tournaments would indicate yes.
Cantlay/Matsuyama/Rose/Kuchar +1250 to +6500
All four of these guys have won the Memorial in the past, with Cantlay at the best odds trying to repeat his title from 2019. I sneaky love Justin Rose here who has been playing great golf, and reminds me of a slightly less hate-able version of Adam Scott. Always fun to root for Kuch daddy as well, but his association with Sketchers is unforgivable.
Hovland/Simpson/Schauffele/Berger +2000 to +3000
Three young studs who have won or come close to winning this season, and a veteran who has been playing lights out golf (Webby). I would not be surprised to see a slow start for Hovland after two disappointing Sundays in a row, but he is too good not to make a push if he makes the cut. Schauffele actually scares me, he is definitely the odds on favorite to be a serial killer after his PGA career (eh maybe Mickelson). But that focus and weird fatheson relationship has been working for him, and he’s sitting just a few spots outside the FedEx cup top 10 and playing great golf. Meanwhile Webby is sitting at #2 in the FedEx cup rankings with a win at the RBC Heritage and a top 10 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Side note, why is there a “t” in mortgage? Fuck that word.
My pick: once again reiterating I will likely not bet on a Sunday winner before Thursday starts, but if I was I would put my money on Justin Rose +4500 or Xander Schauffele +2500. Thursday Matchups Easily the best way to bet on golf, and in my experience the most profitable. Here are a few picks I’ll be making before Thursday. Currently I am 4-2 betting matchups (last 4 PGA events) and I’ll track my picks moving forward. If I get to Jack Mac or Reags level of bad betting, I promise I’ll retire and not pretend I know what I’m talking about. I’m only going to pick matchups in the featured groups for Thursday. Nothing worse than betting on someone like Marc Leishman, and having to refresh the golf cast simulator thing instead of watching live play. Dechambeau (-115) over Thomas (-105): everything is so planned out and calculated with Bryson, and his sit-out at the Workday feels like a part of his plan. Fucking hate rooting for this kid, but I see him coming in fresh against JT who blew an enormous lead last weekend. D. Johnson (even) over Morikawa (-120): my favorite first round matchup bet. It seems counter-intuitive going against the guy who won at this course a few days ago, but don’t forget the major change this week will be how the greens roll. And Morikawa is 150th on tour in strokes gained with the putter. Lock it in. Take a flier - round 1 leader I don’t think I’ve ever bet this prop but I’ve also never written a golf blog before so let’s take a shot here. I’ll put a half unit on it as well: Rickie Fowler +4000 Rick's finishes at the Memorial the past 3 years: T14, T8, solo 2nd. In 2017 when he placed 2nd, he shot an opening round 66. I also feel like I see him in the mix a lot in early rounds, but can’t quite put together those low weekend rounds. That’s all I’ve got. Sorry it’s not funny but it’s better content than we’ve gotten out of Foreplay. Let’s make some money and blow off work Thursday and Friday.
Let's talk about the mind tricks and psychological warfare being waged by cheaters, hackers, and RMT vendors in Tarkov, and what we can do about it. This is a long post, but Tarkov is worth it, and a TL;DR is provided at the top.
Edit: There's obviously big money at stake as I started receiving death threats the moment this post hit the front page on hot. Be careful with your personal info and probably best to avoid commenting here if you have doxxable details on your reddit account. Stay safe, it's just a game and not worth it. TL;DR:
Tarkov is a crazy wild game with a bunch of people running around trying to do weird things. Remember that bizarre outcomes are just as likely (if not more) to be happenstance than suspicious behavior. Don't let others gaslight you into thinking every encounter is a hacker or cheater.
Cheat sellers, RMT vendors, and their customers, all want to push the narrative that rule-breaking is far more common than it actually is, and that the game developers are ruining the game so you may as well just hack/cheat yourself to level the playing field. It's great for business as a seller, and it helps rationalize malicious actions as a customer. Spreading paranoia, mass outrage, and undermining the developers are CIA-level tactics to sow chaos and anarchy that benefits bad actors at the cost of everyone else.
The best thing we can do is silence attempts by bad actors and focus on productive, positive discussions in Tarkov and let BSG (who are the only people who can do anything) do their jobs. They spend 65% of their resources on crushing bad actors and their profit margins, so this isn't an issue that's flying under their radar. As a community, the best voice we have against malicious behavior is deafening silence to starve it of attention and free publicity, minimizing the chances that they can sow enough fear and angst to radicalize players to get more customers.
--- First off, the point of this discussion is not to debate how prevalent cheating in Tarkov is. This sub already has more than enough speculation on that topic and as you read further along you'll see that letting fear and paranoia fester is exactly what bad faith agents in Tarkov want. Wherever you have competition, you're going to have cheating. Whether it's Tarkov, Olympic sports, or the stock market. As long as there is competition, there will always be someone who looks to gain an unfair edge, and it doesn't even matter if it's something as mundane and trivial as online chess, there's always going to be that guy who runs their opponents moves into a grandmaster-level AI because their enjoyment comes from that win at any cost. However, despite the fact that bad faith competition exists in nearly every facet of life, it seems like the Tarkov community is far more paralyzed by fear, anger, and suspicion than any other competitive forum. Why is this?
The game design makes it exceedingly difficult to discern bad faith actions from legitimate play. A naked level 1 with a TT pistol can accidentally get a lucky hipfire shot that instantly kills a fully kitted veteran who is highly skilled in the game. The incredibly punishing nature of the game also makes it so that deaths are highly impactful, which makes it difficult to "let go" of trying to figure out what went wrong. All put together, it means that players are forced to simply accept highly punishing deaths without being given any insight or explanation on how they were killed. 20 headshots with an R99 SMG in Apex Legends is incredibly obvious aimbotting. But in Tarkov, the fight is over with just 1, which leaves a lot of unanswered questions with no satisfying answers.
Because the shared raid map system that Tarkov uses, players have a wide variety of objectives that lead to very differing goals, resulting in bizarre interactions where the original intentions of other other players is unclear. Someone who's hiding in a raid to wait for the violence to die down could be stumbled upon by some other person who is completely lost trying to find a quest objective, or wandering around exploring an obscure area trying to find easter eggs. From the vantage point of the hider, it seems suspicious they were hunted down by someone who had no reason to legitimately to hunt in the location that they were. In other words, players will frequently run into other players acting in inexplicable ways that can be easily misattributed to malice when it was just as likely to be happenstance.
The lack of SBMM (skills-based matchmaking) means that all players are drawn from the same pool when forming raids. This means a complete new player to FPS genre entirely could be running face first into the most skilled players in the entire game. When the competition spans the entirety of the skill curve, it's incredibly difficult to know what is going on because player actions are often contrary to expectations of others. Chaos makes it easy to be suspicious about bad faith play because nobody is acting "logically" from each perspective. Naive players may charge in aggressively in silly ways that end up working by sheer luck that more experienced players will assume would only be as a result of unfair information. A very high skill player can take fights that they win with superior mechanics that most would assume you would only engage because of unfair aim.
The point is, this game is designed to breed suspicion, paranoia, and fear. Which is great in one way, because it's what makes it so exciting and fun to play. However, when channeled in the wrong way, is a serious problem because it's exactly what bad faith actors want. Let's think about various actors in Tarkov, and ask the question, "do they want people to believe that rule breaking is more or less prevalent than it actually is?"
CHEAT SELLERS: MORE
Because the narrative is, everyone is cheating, the game is unfair no matter what, every raid you load into has someone that is map-hacking, every fight you take is against someone who is aim-botting. Therefore, you should consider picking up some little helpers yourself to make it fair again, or be a naive idiot that willingly plays at a disadvantage while everyone else is using hacks. The idea that literally cheaters and hackers are infesting every single raid is probably the best possible sales pitch a cheat seller could have. The few instances of cheating leads to fear and paranoia festering, prompting more people on the fringe to consider cheating themselves, leading to more cheating, more fear, more paranoia, more business.
RMT VENDORS: MORE
Because the narrative is, this game is filled with cheaters anyway, half the lobby is people who bought stuff with mom's credit card, and Nikita is setting out to personally reduce your happiness in life and the game is unrewarding and unplayable for a normal legitimate player that doesn't hack or make a full-time job out of Tarkov. Why bother doing all the pointless stupid grinds while you're dying 50 raids in a row to hackers or someone who bought all their gear with their credit card, when you can just buy a few little cheeki Roubles from the side and get to having fun in the game? Negativity and toxicity toward both the existence of other bad faith players, as well as toward the game design itself, is inherently the best possible environment for a thriving RMT system. This is especially perfect for Tarkov because unlike other MMORPGs, it's much more likely that incremental changes will be more brutal rather than having power creep / loot creep / money creep, which fuels despair and more interest in RMT.
CHEAT/RMT USERS: MORE
This one is simple. If they can convince everyone that it's more common than it actually is, the more they can rationalize their own behavior. It's not that bad, everyone else is doing it anyway! Besides, it's not even that big of an advantage, some other cheaters cheat even harder! Some of you may have seen a recent thread where one individual texted "lmao I'm gonna turn off cheats for this group though, cuz these guys play legit." As if playing legit was actually the minority situation for a massively mainstream FPS game. Zzz.
THE AVERAGE PLAYER LIKE YOU AND ME: ?
It is human nature to rationalize defeat. When you face down failure with no explanation on why like in Tarkov, it's tempting to blame cheaters, hackers, etc. Different games often have different ways of rationalizing defeat. In team games like Overwatch or League of Legends, teammate-blaming is common to offload the burden onto random strangers. In solo matchup games like Starcraft II, race balance is often used by players who are frustrated that they lost. What's even more, these other games do an excellent job of explaining where you could have done better, but players will still look for ways to blame someone other than themselves. It's no surprise that in Tarkov, fear and suspicion of bad faith gameplay exists. The problem is, if we allow ourselves to be tempted to err toward the side of suspicion, to blame negative outcomes on the belief in rampant cheaters, hackers, etc., then we are aligning ourselves to the same narrative that bad faith actors like cheat sellers and RMT vendors want to push. We allow ourselves to be corrupted with the idea of "this game is bullshit, everyone else in the game is not playing fairly, why do I even bother trying?" This is a dangerous mindset because it fuels a toxic narrative that "this game is never going to be fair to me, the devs don't care, the game is becoming less and less fun for me, I should just quit if I'm not going to cheat myself." Let me be clear, I'm not saying that toxicity itself will convert an entire playerbase into cheaters. In fact, I think it has a minimal impact at a high level perspective because there just aren't that many people that are willing to traverse to the disreputable ends of the internet and take risks just to gain some internet points. However, even a 1% cheating rate to 3% cheating rate is a 300% proportional magnitude in the profitability of selling cheats or RMT vending. And more importantly, it significantly damages the enjoyment and integrity of the community at large. You can see clear evidence of bad faith actors in this subreddit. There have been several threads in this subreddit just in the past few days that have reached the front page claiming 1) false bans are rampant, Nikita should just let RMT be 2) hello I am bob, I am hacker all day, you should hack too because literally it's everywhere you don't even KNOW, btw PM me for cheap hacks 3) xyz devs are ruining the game, why stop RMT/hacks, just let it go, you're DESTROYING THE GAME, STOP DOING THAT BSG!. I'm not going to say any individual thread (even though many examples have been debunked) are complete bullshit. I'm just going to say that the narrative of these threads is completely aligned with individuals who are lobbying to protect their interests in making a profit out of bad faith play.
What can you do to stop this?
It starts with the self.
When you get an incredibly lucky clutch/kill, remember it for yourself, and use it as a reminder as to how fickle this game can be. Think about how your opponent must be so confused/suspicious about what you got away with.
When you yourself are on the receiving end of that ridiculous death, remind yourself of all the times where you were on the other side. Make your default reaction be "damn, Tarkov is crazy" rather than "I bet that was hacking 100%." Remember how easily flukes can occur, and how easily luck could be conflated with cheating.
Focus on learning and improving in a game where there is endless room to get better, something that is irrelevant to whether some minority of players chooses to play unfairly.
Encourage productive discussions, positive mentalities, and discourageDESTRUCTIVE SPECULATIONand toxic attitudes.
Upvote threads that discuss legitimate aspects of the game, whether it's discussions on strategies, advice on how to get better, or general productive discussions that are within our control as regular players.
Downvote threads that revolve around discussing cheating, hacking, or a bullshit "Reddit expert panel" of trying to speculate whether gameplay footage was legitimate or not, especially when there is a lack of context on user lag/latency, frames, system specs, server issues, date stamps, etc.
Upvote threads that explain technical nuances known to impact Tarkov gameplay, e.g. desync bullets resulting in apparently unkillable players, etc.
Downvote threads that attempt to sow paranoia in masses of players that have nothing to do with anti-cheating efforts. At best, they are attention-seeking threads made by users to profit infamy at the cost of community integrity. At worst, they are propagandized pieces designed to undermine faith in the developers and increase the temptation to use black market cheats/services and perpetuate a death spiral.
Downvote threads that attempt to induct mass outrage against developers. When someone says "they nerfed X, this is bullshit, we should all just RMT now," it could be from legitimate upset players, but keep in mind that it's also perfectly aligned with exactly the type of agenda that bad faith actors have. Remember that the best thing that malicious actors can do is to pit the player base against the developers so they can create a lawless wasteland to do business undisturbed.
BSG has shown an exemplary degree of interaction with this community. Always wait for an official response before jumping to conclusions.
Go try making a thread about cheating/hacking/boosting in Overwatch or Apex Legends and see how much official response you ever get from developers. This subreddit has been gifted with probably one of the best levels of community engagement from devs you could ask for.
When someone tries to hit the front page with a thread like "I've been falsely banned," track that thread carefully and wait 3-4 days for the official response. If it's anything like 90% of the threads we've seen in the past few days, you're going to see the truth hammer get dropped, providing the poster doesn't delete their own threads/accounts when they're exposed to be full of lies.
Upvote threads that make grandiose claims that are worthwhile for an official response. Then mercilessly scrutinize how events unfold, because 99% of the time, it's always liars that are hoping they can incite a riot as "punishment" for the developers interfering with them than anything else. This is a common occurrence in other communities that have high developer interaction like Old School Runescape, where banned players are known to make top-page threads about being falsely banned, before evidence is provided showing that they are completely full of shit and memes ensue when the truth hammer is dropped.
-- BSG spends 65% of its resources fighting cheaters and RMT and is a developer that has shown endless passion and commitment to its install base. As beta players that are trying to help them develop the best possible game, the best voice we have against bad faith actors in the Tarkov community is deafening silence. Starve them of attention, free marketing, free publicity. Demonstrate that just because they can infect one player, that will not tilt the hundreds of legitimate players into letting themselves surrender and be infected themselves.
General Election Polling Discussion Thread (June 2020)
Welcome to the /politics polling discussion thread for the general election. As the election nears, polling of both the national presidential popular vote and important swing states is ramping up, and with both parties effectively deciding on nominees, pollsters can get in the field to start assessing the state of the presidential race. Please use this thread to discuss polling and the general state of the presidential or congressional election. Below, you'll find some of the most recent polls, but this is by no means exhaustive, as well as some links to prognosticators sharing election models. As always though, polls don't vote, people do. Regardless of whether your candidate is doing well or poorly, democracy only works when people vote, and there are always at least a couple polling misses every cycle, some of which are pretty high profile. If you haven't yet done so, please take some time to register to vote or check your registration status.
Below is a collection of recent polling of the US Presidential election. This is likely incomplete and also omits the generic congressional ballot as well as Senate/House/Gubernatorial numbers that may accompany these polls. Please use the discussion space below to discuss any additional polls not covered. Additionally, not all polls are created equal. If this is your first time looking at polls, the FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings page is a helpful tool to assess historic partisan lean in certain pollsters, as well as their past performance.
Prognosticators are folks who make projected electoral maps, often on the strength of educated guesses as well as inside information in some cases from campaigns sharing internals with the teams involved. Below are a few of these prognosticators and their assessment of the state of the race:
Cook Political Reports - Charlie Cook's race ratings are well regarded in the political field, and he's been in the business for a while. Cook is known to incorporate both public and nonpublic (ie. internal polling) information in his projections. Also covers (and is perhaps better known for) Senate and House races.
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball - Larry Sabato has also been in the political prediction business for a while now, and the team at the UVA Center for Politics has been fairly successful in past cycles. Towards the end of the election cycle, Sabato has a policy of making a call in each state, refusing to leave any race in the tossup category. Also covers Senate and House races.
Inside Elections - Inside Elections, run by Nathan Gonzales, is the successor to Stu Rothenberg's Rothenberg Political Reports, which used to be a part of Roll Call. This prognosticator did fairly well in 2018, though Rothenberg himself boldly (along with some other pundits) predicted in 2016 that Donald Trump's path to the presidency was nonexistent. Also covers Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
Daily Kos Elections - Daily Kos Elections is the direct successor to the Swing State Project website, which merged with Daily Kos in 2010. Despite the liberal lean of the site as a whole, the Daily Kos Elections predictions tend to be fairly even-handed, if not even slightly bearish for Democrats. Presidential numbers aren't up yet but they have Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
RRH Elections - Red Racing Horses Elections is a site founded by former conservative-leaning members of the Swing State Project community. Despite the conservative nature of the commentary, like DKE, the race predictions tend to be fairly neutral, if slightly bearish for Republicans. Like the Crystal Ball, RRH will call all races before the election so that none are left in the tossup category. The presidential rankings have not been published but they do cover Senate, House, Gubernatorial and Row Officer (statewide elected officials, such as state Attorney General, Secretary of State etc.) races.
Polling models are similar to prognosticators (and often the model authors will act like pundits as well), but tend to be about making "educated guesses" on the state of the election. Generally, the models are structured to take in data such as polls and electoral fundamentals, and make a guess based on research on prior elections as to the state of the race in each state. Below are a few of the more prominent models that are online or expected to be online soon:
FiveThirtyEight - this model isn't active yet, but it's the original model from Nate Silver that debuted in 2008 and really kicked off this genre of race prognostication. For now, here's the polling aggregates that they've set up in lieu of a now-cast (which is likely not returning to the model this year). Will likely also include Senate and House projections like in past years.
Princeton Election Consortium - this is the model run by Dr. Sam Wang, a neuroscience professor at Princeton University. This model has run in the past two cycles as well, though Sam Wang famously said he'd eat a bug if Donald Trump won the election because his model predicted no path to victory for the eventual winner of the 2016 election. Also includes projections for Senate and House.
JHK Forecasts - the earliest model on the scene this cycle. Jack Kersting's model is one of the newer ones this year and also includes projections for Senate and House.
The Economist - this is the model run by G. Elliott Morris, who previously had a midterm election model under The Crosstab.
Niskanen Center - Rachel Bitecofer's projection, which only seems to update a couple times a cycle. Part of this has to do with Bitecofer's central argument that there are generally no swing voters, and electoral fundamentals drive the outcome of the election. This was put to the test in the 2018 midterms, where Bitecofer very early on predicted a Democratic pickup of 40-45 seats in the House, which fell about where the election ended up.
Lean Tossup - a foreign model from Canada. This model did relatively well in the 2019 Canadian election, but this appears to be the first time they've tried forecasting the US Presidential election. Also includes Senate and House projections.
Prediction markets are betting markets where people put money on the line to estimate the likelihood of one party winning a seat or state. Most of these markets will also tend to move depending on polling and other socioeconomic factors in the same way that prognosticators and models will work. Predictit and Election Betting Odds are prominent in this space, although RealClearPolitics has an aggregate of other betting sites as well.
Activision ($ATVI) is releasing their quarterly earnings on August 4th (8/4). They're up about 30% from their pre-Covid highs, and are currently valued around 10x annual revenue. They crushed their last earnings revenue by 15.30% and EPS by 53.28% which helped them on their run-up to their current levels. I am now going to convince you why they will smash their earnings again despite their already-inflated revenue projections that price in a coronavirus boost and why you should bet big on them and not miss out on a potential huge play. Me and one of my friends from school (who is very intelligent) used to roast the shit out of people who buy cosmetic items in-game, like in Call of Duty, and talk about how dumb it is to pay for in-game clout. But during the pandemic, like many people, he's been so fucking bored that he's been playing Call of Duty all day unlocking a bunch of gun camos. The other day, he (embarrassingly) admitted to me that in his pursuit of gun camo unlocking he (shamefully) bought a $10 "battle pass" that would help him unlock more cosmetics. Why not, he is getting paid unemployment + stimulus to sit home on his ass and play Call of Duty, so might as well put a little of that into the game because there's nothing else to buy right now. (Last time I had a moment like this? In early April when one of my much dumber friends asked me with help setting up a Shopify store. I was dumbfounded that he would even be trying to set one up. Since then Shopify is up more than 120%) Call of Duty Warzone and Call of Duty Modern Warfare are very popular, and just like all those nerds that played Fortnite and forked over tons for skins, there are a plethora of microtransactions that come with it and man do the people that play Warzone specifically everyday take it seriously. This got me thinking. How many people who never bought microtransactions before have now spent money on them, especially when somebody as resilient to them as my friend have now purchased them? What kind of assumptions can we make about how much bigger the microtransaction market got during the pandemic? The answer I believe is that because people are playing these games so frequently when they had never done so before, they start to assign more value to their in-game character and want to appear to have more "clout" and seem good at the game. It is this value that somebody assigns to their in-game experience that when high enough drives the user to purchase content for their character and spend real dollars. That coupled with the fact that they get free money from the government while doing nothing makes the target market for these games especially excited to start spending. But it isn't just that the existing users are spending more - the microtransaction market size is expanding, so much so that my friend who once considered himself way out of the microtransactions market and laughed about ever spending money on shit for a video game decided to spend money on it for the first time. This isn't just a one-off thing I'm noticing with a stupid friend, because he is in fact not stupid, rather it's a psychological effect caused by having way too much time to play video games and stimulus money that Activision's target market doesn't want to spend elsewhere. According to surveys, in Call of Duty 60% of people purchase downloadable content. In Overwatch, it's 62%. In Hearthstone, it's 71%. In StarCraft, it's 42%. Source: https://venturebeat.com/2019/11/19/arm-treasure-data-the-most-popular-games-arent-necessarily-using-lots-of-microtransactions/ What if in all these games, which are owned by Activision, that percent has risen substantially because so many people have been playing them so often during the pandemic and as a result of the effect I previously described that my friend was victim to? This survey was conducted using people that consider themselves to play video games regularly, meaning people that play pretty much daily. So we have to keep in mind that the population of people that play daily is ALSO increasing because of the pandemic, while the raw % of people that will spend on microtransactions is also increasing. Well what's the big deal, it's just a few in-game purchases right? Wrong. In 2019 Activision pulled in $6.49 billion in revenue. Of this $6.49 billion in revenue, a whopping 50.85% or $3.3 billion came from in-game microtransactions. $3.3 billion in a year for some pixels what the fuck right? And the kicker? There's nearly a 100% profit margin on these microtransactions, which is why last earnings (which ended March 31 and contained what is a decent increase in microtransactions because people hadn't been sitting on their ass for too long yet) Activision reported a 28.24% net margin, up 15.31% YoY. Last quarter they came in at $1.52 billion in revenue versus the $1.32 billion expected revenue. This earnings report, the consensus revenue estimate is $1.68 billion (representing a whopping 39% YoY growth) which is set nice and high - but I'm going to tell you why this is still going to be beat. For Q2 of last year, Activision reported $1.21 billion in revenue. Ok, now we're going to do some conservative math, estimate the lower bounds of the earnings, and show why this quarter's earnings will be beat. Let's assume 0% YoY growth, ignoring the addition to the revenue that games like CoD Warzone had, so they'll be making $1.21 billion as a base like they did in Q2 of last year. Last quarter, microtransactions made up an astounding $956 million of the $1.522 billion in revenue, equaling about 63%, and that was just at the beginning of the pandemic when the I'm-staying-home-so-now-I-value-this-game-more effect that I am describing was just coming into fruition. AND THAT WAS BEFORE STIMULUS CHECKS WERE RECEIVED. Let's be conserative and assume that of that baseline $1.21 billion that we will use to come up with earnings for this quarter, $726 million or about 60% is from microtransactions, even though this % is most likely rising on track with the previous quarter's trend which had 63% of revenue from microtransactions. Now let's try to estimate what the increase in volume of microtransactions is like if even my friend who was sworn against them played enough to care about cosmetics because he had played the game for long enough. So, not only are we increasing the number of people that want cosmetics and other in-game purchasable items, but also accounting for the fact that the people who already spent a lot on them will now spend more because they play more. This is inclusive of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and the Candy Crush Saga which are their big three microtransaction earners. I'm convinced that the volume on these things has to at least have doubled YoY. But for the sake of argument, we'll say they have only increased 75%. Why is this a fair estimate? Last quarter, microtransactions for Modern Warfare were up 100% compared to Black Ops 4 in the same quarter the previous year. We don't want to over-estimate and get our hopes up, we want to make sure this very ballpark math that we are doing can beat revenue estimates even on a considerably lower bound, giving us a high % chance of being right about the actual figure. To further justify this kind of growth in microtransactions, we're going to look at a few things. This report is for months April, May, and June, meaning last quarter's results ended with March. Here are the latest active player count statistics for Warzone: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1110000/call-of-duty-warzone-players/ As of May, there are 60 million Warzone players - this is where there will be a large number of microtransactions which were barely included in the previous quarter because they had less than 40 million players by the end of March. A large part of last quarter's revenue came from CoD Modern Warfare's (not Warzone) season 1 and 2 in-game purchasable content. According to Google Trends, Season 4, released in June, garnered more interest than any other season: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=modern%20warfare%20season&geo=US Also since last quarter, interest in buying CoD points (their currency) has gone up tremendously: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=US&q=buy%20cod%20points So let's take our baseline $1.21 billion assuming 0% YoY growth, and increase the revenue generated by microtransactions by 75%. $1.21 billion + ($726 million * 0.75) = $1.754 billion, beating the $1.68 billion consensus only by factoring in a growth in microtransactions and absolutely nothing else, when in reality up-front game sales (purchasing games online for full price), subscriptions, merchandise, and other revenue streams have also increased. This way, even if we've over-estimated our microtransactions boost, there is more than enough room to still trounce earnings from the added revenue from other streams. And if we were very accurate about the microtransactions boost, then that additional revenue will send us way over. Activision already killed earnings last quarter with barely any money coming in from Warzone. l would not be at all surprised if they reach $2 billion in earnings, representing almost a 20% beat of expectations. At $2 billion per quarter and a 10x revenue valuation, Activision would be valued at $80 billion representing a 30% move. ACTIVISION IS GOING TO BEAT AN EARNINGS ESTIMATE THAT IS ALREADY HEAVILY ACCOUNTING FOR THEIR CORONA BUMP. The options are cheap for Activision, so I am loaded up. I think realistically it will have a pre-earnings run up as more people realize that they're going to do very well on earnings and then go up even more on beat earnings. The downside risk on a stock like this is low considering it is a stay-at-home that has had its value increased REASONABLY by the pandemic and is not trading at a ridiculously high tech revenue multiple. At peak rona season, the stock fell roughly 20% and has since rebounded about 56%. Positions: ATVI 8/21 90C ATVI 8/21 100C My positions: https://imgur.com/a/CobyxYe TLDR: Microtransactions made up 63% of Activision's earnings last quarter when they beat revenue estimates by 15.30%. This quarter not only are microtransactions going to make up a larger percentage of the revenue, but the revenue will be much larger with help from the pandemic and the 60m+ new Call of Duty Warzone players. I've also bolded the more important information if you don't want to read through everything. EDIT: Warzone, like Fortnite, is a free download. A comparable game is Fortnite, which at its peak popularity had a revenue per user of a shocking $96 (Source: https://fortniteintel.com/report-fortnite-is-earning-double-the-revenue-of-google-twitter-snap-and-facebook-per-use9265/ ). If we assume that Warzone has just 1/20th of this revenue per user, we're already at an additional $288 million in revenue from Warzone alone.
PSA: A FEW PEOPLE HAVE STARTED ASKING ME IF THEY CAN USE THIS STORY ON A YOUTUBE VIDEO. THE ANSWER IS I DO NOT CONSENT I will begin by prefacing that unlike a majority of posts on here we are still all friends, nobody's feelings got hurt, and we all can talk to each other like properly functioning adults. The story begins under the shadow cast by COVID19 with our regularly weekly game decimated, and then the repercussions of COVID19 on the work force making it nigh impossible to transfer our game some online platform. Many months past, and we are all missing our game. I say I have a new campaign that can be played on Roll20 but, won't be able to go until the end of August when I change to a less demanding job. One of our other group members pipes up and says, I can run a game on Fantasy Grounds until then. We all make up characters, with very little knowledge of the world. I decide to play an Inquisitor (Patherfinder 1E game), and after originally intending on being a Dhampir and discovering that I'm likely to be run out of town I settle on the more subtle, Changeling. With very little knowledge of the world backstories were vague at best. I settled on a nobles daughter, who was conceived as the only heir to the family fortune after a pact with a Hag. At puberty, rumours got out about my true origin, and by the time I came of age I left for the protection of not only myself but, also my parents. Then there's a small speel about becoming an agent of nature (Mist to be precise). After I hand in my sheet and brief backstory, the DM informs us that we are all going to receive a homebrew trait during the 1st session, that's in someway related to the backstory. First thought: Awesome idea. At this point it is good for you to know that the other player in this game, is going to be playing a Yokel Fighter. Cut to the first session, and we both start with this vivid nightmarish vision/dream. Then the first "thing" happened, my character was flung through time and space from an old churches library to falling through the roof of the second players characters bedroom. There is a lot to unravel here. The first is I started in a dusty library when my character is a nature Inquisitor so that was a little off putting. Then I got thrown through time and space; this was a major red flag for me because I am now immediately thinking that my character has become the "special snowflake/Mary Sue" in this world from simply not being from it. A little time passes before I come too, and then I'm interrogated by my fellow player about breaking his roof. Trying to play my character as a stereotypical "British Aristocrat" who always tries and does things the "Proper way" tried to excuse herself in embarrassment (My intention was never to properly leave but, to find a place to compose myself so that my character can make amends as well as figure out what really did happen). Then comes the "second" thing, I attempt to stand up, and am informed that the fall has, and I paraphrase "taken it out of me" so I'm unable to move. Great. I then decide to try and heal myself, and having cast my cure spell, it achieves nothing. Now at this point I'm a little agitated my character in her eyes is going through a humiliating social encounter, and I'm running out of things I can do because, I refuse to play that "Damsel in Distress" act. We then learn that the nearest town is a days walk away, and that is the closest place for any healing. Being unable to move however was an issue but, of course there's no wagon for us to get there, Mr Yokels only way of transporting me is...... a Wheelbarrow (More humiliation for my character). The "third thing" happens now (The one you have been waiting for), as I'm loaded into the wheelbarrow the DM informs me of my custom "trait", my character is to be the first of a separate race of Changelings, ones free of Hags, and that I was with child through a a miraculously conception. The Wheelbarrow apparently was a little uncomfortable for bump, and I. At this point I refuse to continue, I don't feel comfortable playing a pregnant character. If the DM's character arc idea is as good as they think, then it can run by me before next session, and if I agree to give up that agency, it can easily be retconned. The trek to the next town begins, and having stopped to camp the previous night, we awake and I'm still unable to walk. Sometime during the walk on day 2 a large shadow starts coming towards us from the sky. I respond by casting a mist spell; to give us cover is all directions. Some of you are thinking, how could this possibly go wrong, a mist spell (That I can see perfectly through) is great cover, allowing us to avoid any encounter easily. It wasn't an encounter, nor was it a combat. A GIANT ASS WHALE FELL OUT OF THE SKY. I'm 100% telling the truth, far away from the coast, a Whale had somehow managed to fall from the sky onto Mr Yokel, and myself in a Wheelbarrow. We manage to avoid a direct impact but, I am yet again unconscious. Mr.Yokel wakes me up, and at this point I become an annoying player. Instead of heading towards the next town, I suggest we start smoking off the whale meat to sell it, with a portion of my share going towards repairing the thatched roof I fell through the previous day. Hilarity ensues as Mr Yokel and I prat around planning our Cooked Whale Restaurant. I have looked back on this, and I have no regrets, it was the first thing that I was able to actually do, and not get DM blocked. After preparing a smoking pit and preparing the meat to be cooked, an encounter occurs that evening. A Shambing plant (It was not a shambling mound, the creatures name escapes me) stumbles through our camp (The CR was well above our level I was well aware). I roll well in Initiative, and decide the best bet is to cast the Mist again, and for us to hide, and to avoid the encounter entirely. The creature suddenly become sentient and understands this as a trick (With a 0 Intelligence), and starts to track us through the Mist. I eventually shoot a few arrows (Miss them all annoyingly), the Fighter tries to hit it with their shovel and does so little damage, for the DM to hit the Fighter once and immediately realize, they are about to do a TPK. The next round, with a lot of unsubtle fudging, it "miraculously" died. This is a personal pet peeve of mine with all DM's, if a player comes up with a genuine way of avoiding an entire encounter, without having to roll a single attack, it should be rewarded as if they had completed the encounter. It should not be forced upon you, undoing everything you did to avoid it in the first place. TLDR; Was thrown out of the backstory I wrote, into a world I'm not sure I belong/fit into, am unable to cast spells, nor move, learn that I am with child, have a Whale land on top of me, and am chased by the most intelligent 0 INT creature of all time which almost results in a TPK if it wasn't for a lot of immersion breaking Fudging.
Howdy y’all, this was an email that I sent to all my friends that are studying right now/beginning to prepare, so please excuse the language and how personal it is. Some of my friends thought it would be helpful to post on here, and I'm all about sharing the love, so I thought why not. I'm swamped with secondaries right now (I waited until I got my score yesterday to submit them), but I will try to reply to anyones comments ASAP as possible. Greetings friends. After a tumultuous summer I finally got my MCAT score back, and I did well enough that I feel comfortable sharing my MCAT journey and all the resources I used. I got a 525, so I like to think I might have an idea of what I’m talking about and am not full of shit. If you have any questions just let me know, we’re all in this together. I’m gonna try to break this email up by sections, but there’s a chance I might ramble so just deal with it. A couple things to start off with: No one really talks about this but I thought the most important thing is to have a GROWTH MINDSET 😤. No but really, if you wanna do well you need to have confidence in yourself. If you don’t believe that you can get a good score then you probably won’t. Obviously you should set realistic goals and don’t become depressed when you don’t get a 528, but I’ve always thought it was best to aim high. Another thing is that the MCAT isn’t really a test of intelligence, it’s just a test of your work ethic. Before I did any studying I thought I’d be fine since I’ve done well in all my undergraduate classes. NOPE. Even if you have a 4.0, there will be so, so many things you haven’t seen before that you need to learn. I’ve seen a lot of people consign themselves to lower score because they think they’re not as smart as other people. Even if it doesn’t come as easily to you, if you work at it you can do better than you think. On that note, you need to cut the bullshit out of your life and make the MCAT a priority. One thing that really helped free up my time was when I stopped going out 3 days a week. We all love the Wednesday night harp show but know what I love more? Having a stable future. It is sucky, and you won’t have as much time for your friends or relationships. This means you can’t be hanging out with the broskis every other day, you can’t be fucking your ex at 1am, and as mentioned you won’t going to the bars or parties. Yeah it is AIDS, and I’m still salty that I barely hit the bars last semester especially when they are closed for the foreseeable future. However, if you want to do the best you can then need to eliminate distractions. I was lucky enough that I have a great support system, friends, and family to help me through this process. They understood when I couldn’t hang or didn’t text back for a week, and they didn’t get pissed because they knew I had to grind. I have stories of people with friends or significant others that can’t take the lack of contact and it causes problems - I can’t tell you what to do but if that happens to you I would suggest reevaluating who you hang out with and if they have your best goals in mind. Things that are helpful before you even start studying Depending on who you are, there is a chance you are getting this email ahead of time before you even need to worry about the MCAT. In that case congrats on being responsible, but please enjoy your life before this consumes it. Anyway, there are a couple things that I think would be helpful that nobody ever talks about. First and foremost, being able to read quickly is a huge blessing. I have always been a nerd and used to get in trouble for reading during class, so I am lucky in that this wasn’t a huge issue for me. The MCAT is timed and presents a lot of information to process, and if you can read fast that means you can get through the material much quicker, allowing you more time to check on questions that you have flagged. Since you will be making hella flashcards (read below), it will be really helpful if you can type fast. I type all my notes for school so I am fairly proficient (lucky for y’all or there would be no way in hell I would type this novel), however if you are not the best then there are several online typing websites you can use to improve your speed. Since the MCAT is all multiple choice there will be no things that you need to type, but it will save you a tone of time during your review. Finally, this makes sense but try to do your best in your undergrad classes and learn to retain information, not just get the day. If you barely passed orgo the first time you took it then it will take even longer to relearn it for the MCAT. Likewise, even though I got a 4.0 in biochem I didn’t memorize all the pathways, and it was annoying to have to relearn it. If you are in the position, keep these tips in mind and it will save you some time. How I studied (chronologically in general): Tbh I kinda bullshitted my way into MCAT studying for a while, as I didn’t really know anyone else who was studying at the same time. This is one of the things I highly regret, as I feel like I wasted too much time by not having a solid plan. There are services online that will build you a study plan for like $150. I never used them because I can usually self motivate, but if you are one of those people that cannot focus then you might wanna look into it. The first couple months I spent doing content review, which basically means I went through every page of the Kaplan books and took detailed notes. In the end, this was a COLOSSAL waste of time and I highly regret it. Hundreds of hours were put into making notes that I never used again, and those hours would be much better spent doing practice questions or something else. I would still recommend looking over the books because they provide a good basis. However, if I could go back I would probably just skim through them and maybe take light notes. Another thing I will discuss more - you need to be studying using active recall, which for most people means doing practice questions or flashcards. Don’t fall into the trap of reading over notes, thinking “that makes sense,” and then moving on with your life. Studies have shown repeatedly that is simply not the move, it does not work, and it is fake news. No, you’re not better than everyone else and learn better from reading your notes. If you still wanna disagree on this, just delete the email right now and continue to delude yourself. After I did a content review, I couldn’t really tell you what I got done. I have about a 2 to 3 month gap in my memory on how I studied, which is why I suggest using a schedule. I assume I spent most of this time doing practice questions, and I also know that I got through all of UEarth Right around this time is when COVID hit, which really threw a wrench in my plans. I was originally supposed to test on 4/25, but miss rona pushed my test back 2 months to 6/27. I knew that I needed to really get my ass in gear in the last 2 months to get up to my goal (at that time my goal was a 520), so this is when I really started to put the work in. Since my semester had ended, I basically studied everyday, full time. I struggle with waking up in the morning, and although on average I wanted to wake up at 7 everyday I usually got up at 9. I would workout (except when I got lazy which was more often than I’d like to admit), and then make a smoothie and study. My routine usually consisted of doing my Anki review cards in the morning, doing some practice questions, then doing new Anki cards in the afternoon. Something that I struggled with was working at home, and honestly if at all possible do not study in your own house if you can avoid it. I would usually go to the student union or find a nice spot outside, and I was lucky because my roommate moved out and I was able to use his room as an office with my phone in a different room. I would usually try to do a practice test every Wednesday and Sunday, spend the following Thursday and Monday reviewing it, and then spend the other days doing any practice I had left. As I got closer and closer to the test date I was eventually running out of practice questions and had more and more Anki cards, so I would end up just doing hella Anki cards a day. Per Section Tips First off for every section I was kinda surprised with how well I did, a whole lotta luck and everyone’s prayers went into it so excuseeee me if I can’t back up my score. Chemistry/Physics (C/P): This section was a pain in my ass. I had done well in chemistry and physics in class, but at least at MSU you get a cheat sheet for PHY 231/2. The MCAT has no such luxuries, and you will be forced to memorize everything. Everyone stresses on orgo, but if you look at the content breakdown orgo is only 5% of the total content, and if you didn’t feel the need to do that good you could ignore orgo and probably do fine. I noticed that after doing a lot of practices, a lot of the stuff is very repetitive and testing the same things. You need to know your distillations and kinematic equations and how to find the resistance in parallel vs series, but honestly the stuff the section covers isn’t as hard as it seems once you get used to it Critical Analysis of Bullshit aka Reading aka CARS: If C/P is a pain in the ass CARS has been the bane of my existence. “But Paul, how hard can reading be you illiterate fuck? The answer is just there you gotta read it!” Alas, this is not the case. I’ve read all my life, I got perfect scores in ACT and SAT reading, but CARS doesn’t really test your reading ability, it just tests if you can figure out the AAMC’s bullshit logic they use when writing questions. I ended up doing well in this section on the real thing, but honestly it has been one of the hardest things to improve and I can’t really give any huge game changers I used to boost my score. One thing that did help was after each paragraph, I would take a couple seconds to mentally summarize what I just read. Some of the material is insanely boring, and unless you stay engaged it will be hard to retain it and then answer the questions. In addition, you can’t spend time trying to find every answer in the text, as sometimes it will be vaguely implied and you have to ~feel~ it. The official AAMC section banks (discussed below) offer some good practice for this, and I would also recommend signing up for Jack Westin reading passages and doing those. I honestly think CARS is just something you have to practice over time and cross your fingers, do a rain dance, and pray that it will come to you. There is no quick fix and it’s impossible to cram for, so try to just start ASAP Biology/Biochem (B/B): So tbh I have been an intro biology TA for 4 semesters now, meaning I have technically taken the class 5 times and a lot of the basic material is child's play (why you gotta fight with me at cheesecake). First off for the love of god memorize all the amino acids, glycolysis, and the Krebs cycle. You can’t get around it, they will ask questions about it, and it is easy points. Something else that’s important (really applies for the whole exam but) is that learning how everything is interconnected and applying concepts. You can’t really use sheer memorization for this, and a lot of questions I would get right because I was like oh shit this is just like a different concept I learned that I can apply to this. There are many many topics covered in this, so like everything else I would suggest just trying to absorb as much material as you can. Psych/Soc (P/S): Honestly it is a beauty that this section is last because it is the “easiest.” I think that if you are struggling to get your score up, this is probably the easiest section to do it in because it is just memorizing a bunch of terms. Sure you need to rote memorize a lot of stuff, but many questions are just definitions and don’t really test your problem solving that much. I also found that I always finished psych with ample time left, so it gave me time to check on your answers. One thing I’ll warn you about is on the actual test, psych was hard as hell and I felt like it was my worst section by far, while it ended up being my best one. Keep in mind that even though this section is more straightforward than other ones, there will still be some curveballs. Also, process of elimination is essential in this section, as you will often get questions that require you to know 4 different theories - even if one is something you have no clue about, you may be able to eliminate the other options. Actual Test Day and Trusting the Process: Alright first when you take the test (applies to full lengths and every test in general) there are a couple strategies I used that I think helped get my score. First off, when actually taking the test I would usually try to make a quick first pass on it. The MCAT setup lets you flag questions, and if there was a question I had no clue on or one that I guessed on and went back, I would flag it by clicking the flag in the upper right hand corner. This not only allowed me to get through the whole test, but meant that I wouldn’t waste time on hard questions when there were easy questions further in the test. After making my first pass I would then review all the incomplete questions and flagged ones, and if I still had time I would go through the whole test again. More than once I caught a question I hadn’t flagged that I got wrong, so this was helpful. Something else that was helpful was meditating. I don’t think I ever truly meditated, but between sections I would close my eyes and try to focus on my breathing. I know it sounds like some hippie bullshit but it actually works, I think it kinda helps calm you down and stay focused. It is easy to feel like you bombed one section and then let it affect your other sections, but I would try to push this out of my head and think along the lines of “okay even if chemistry sucked you can still do perfect on every other section and kill it.” Something else I wanna discuss is scoring and low yield vs high yield concepts. Low yield and high yield is something that you will hear a lot, and basically refers to content that should be expected to be seen a lot (high yield) and content you may not ever see (low yield). An example of something high yield would be the structure of amnio acids, while something low yield is something like Kuber-Ross end of life stages. Some people only focus on the high yield stuff and ignore the low yield stuff, but personally I think that is a mistake. My philosophy is that you should go into the MCAT feeling like you know everything and are prepared for anything they might throw at you. Obviously you won’t and you will still be confused on some topics, but at least you are more likely to do better. Now if you have limited time that is a different story, but if you are able I would suggest treating everything as high yield. In regards to scoring, something to keep in mind is that it is much much easier to improve at a lower level than at a higher one. The difference between the 515 I scored in March and the 525 I got in June was only a difference of ~15 questions right, and represented hundreds of hours of studying. Tbh, I theoretically could’ve gotten a 528 if I had gotten only 3 more questions right. For that reason (at least in my opinion), it is kind of hard to study for a score past 525, and that entire range (98-100th percentile) is based on your content knowledge and luck. If you are already scoring high you will probably notice the lack of advice and guides online to scoring in that range, as most things are focused on getting you to a 515 (generally most people’s target). Similarly, if you start out at a 490 it is going to be much easier to get to a 500 then from a 500->510, and a 510->520. Just something to keep in mind as you format your plan of attack. As you approach your test day, most advice says to just relax and not do any material, but since I’m the kid that will still be looking at his notes while the test is being passed out in the front of class, I found this hard to do. At the end of the day however, the studying you do the last day and honestly in the last week won’t make that much of a difference. If you have been scoring in the 510 range on all your official FL’s, do not expect that you will suddenly get a 520 on test day. When you take the test, you will go to the Pearson Vue testing center (leave your phone in the car), sign in, get your palm scanned and photo taken, and then be led to the testing room. You will be asked to flip out your pockets, and the proctor (in my case a student) will lead you to the room. Keep in mind that if you want, you can ask the proctor for some disposable earplugs, in addition to the over the ear headphones that are next to your computer. Miraculously, I found that my room was actually pretty quiet, and I had no trouble concentrating. I took the test in the middle of COVID, which means they shortened the test to allow for 3 tests a day in order to fit everybody in. Because of this, the test was a little under 6 hours long instead of the 7+ hours it normally is. I had a smoothie for breakfast and went to the bathroom before, and I chose not to take any of the breaks. If you feel like you need a drink of water or to take a piss, keep in mind that it takes some time to get checked in and out, so really your 10 min break turns into 5. Now after you took the test, do your best not to freak out. Personally I got jimmy johns, then sat in my car and called my dad. I felt confident on FL4 but felt like I bombed the actual test, and all I could focus on were the questions I had likely gotten wrong. This is normal, everyone feels that way, and odds are you didn’t fail. I then spent the next 2 weeks tweaking and reading horror stories of people who did good in practice and then bombed their actual test - for the love of god don’t do this, try not to do something school related, and just relax. It is out of your hands and there is nothing you can do, so don’t worry about it because I bet you did great. How to take a full length (FL): If you do any research online, you will likely see people refer to something called FL’s. These stand for full length tests, and they are released by AMCAS, the company that makes the MCAT. These tests are the best gauge of how well you will do on the MCAT, as I’m pretty sure they are just old MCATS. You should pretend that each FL is the real thing - that means taking it in a quiet environment, no notes, phone away, etc. There are currently 4 AAMC FL’s, which means 4 practice test (representing more than 1000 practice questions) Now, here’s where I go against the thread. The conventional wisdom is to take your full lengths within a month of your actual test, and your test will be ±2 points of the average of your FL’s. However, I was originally supposed to test April 25th, and when it got pushed back to June 27th I had already taken FL1-3. This means I couldn’t take the average, since there were 300+ hours of studying done between FL3 and FL4. Personally, I find I learn a lot from reviewing practice questions, and as such it’s going to be natural to improve on subsequent ones. A lot of people only focus on actually taking the test, but actually reviewing the test is essential, and probably one of the most important things to do when studying for the MCAT. Every question is multiple choice, and therefore has 1 right answer and 3 wrong answers (except the questions like I, I & II, II & III but fuck those questions). This means that when doing any sort of practice, you should not only know why the right answer is right but why the other 3 are wrong. If you can do this for every question, you know your stuff. To test if you’re doing it right, if you were to look through old practices you should be getting almost every question right. If not, you probably need to focus on how you review information. My scores on the full lengths were 514, 515, 513 (rip CARS) and 524. A note on third party practice tests - do NOT trust scores from third party tests, at least not at face value. First of all, the companies have a financial incentive to make them harder. You might notice that companies like Kaplan have a money back guarantee if you don’t do better on the actual test than their practices. To make sure you never claim it, they make their tests way harder than the real thing. For reference, I got 510 on a Kaplan FL and scored 524 on FL4 the next week. Furthermore, the AAMC has a very specific format that you need to get used to, a format not used by other test making companies. This holds especially true in CARS - basically disregard any 3rd party cars test, as it is fake news. Anki I was going to throw this in the section below but I realized that Anki was so instrumental in my success it deserves it’s own separate header. Anki is basically a flashcard app, but it has some features that make it amazing. When you use online flashcards like quizlet, it will basically have your cards in a pile and there is no way of ranking them. With Anki, whenever you look at a card you can rank it by difficulty, and then cards that are easy will go to the back of your pile while difficult ones will stay at the top. That way you can maximize your time. What you should be doing is basically making an Anki card on anything and everything. This includes right and wrong questions, things that you kinda know but not quite, things you see online that you aren’t 100% confident of. If there is a topic that you don’t know well enough to teach to another person, you should make a card for it. This is mentioned below, but in addition to making your own cards I would use a master deck. That is basically a compendium of all the knowledge that will be on the test. They are usually not super in depth, but offer a great way to get a general understanding of stuff. The important thing after making the cards is actually using them, and this is where I dropped the ball. I didn’t really start going through my Anki decks until a little over a month before the MCAT, and since I had accumulated over 6000 cards including the master deck it meant I was doing more than a thousand reviews a day. Anki is made for long term learning not cramming, and I would recommend working on cards simultaneously as you make them. I am not an expert on Anki, but there are a lot of YouTube videos and resources out there that can explain it better than I. I would also recommend downloading the Heatmap add-on to track your progress and to motivate you to keep up with it, as well as the image resizer add on to make it easier to add screenshots. Also something that made studying easier for me was that I would often do my Anki cards while hammocking. Obviously it would be difficult depending on your location/the season, but I love outdoors and it was much better for me to work on a deck outside rather than cramped inside an office. Some of you have requested I send my Anki decks, which I did because once again, we are all in this together. However, I would generally warn against using other peoples flashcards or Anki decks. If we both took the same test there would be questions I thought were easy that you thought were hard, and vice versa. It is gonna be a waste of time, since your study plan should be custom to YOU, nobody else. Seriously though, download Anki and use it. Without Anki I would not have done well. Plz. Other Resources I Used: AAMC Official Material - This includes the full lengths I previously discussed, as well as other section banks with official practice questions. These are very helpful, as they are written by AMCAS and the MCAT is written in a specific way. You will notice as you study more that while questions test certain knowledge, but official questions are written differently than 3rd party ones. Among the AAMC resources are something called Section Banks. These are basically the hardest questions that are likely to show up on the test. Don’t fret when you get half of them wrong, because they’re designed to be hella hard. They are another great resource to study from, because if you can nail the hardest content then everything else will seem easy. UEarth - UEarth can straight up have my children, it is probably one of if not the best resource you can use. Basically UEarth is a paid service that has 1900 practice questions, styled exactly like the MCAT. Questions are broken up by sections (Chem, Physics, Bio, Biochem, Psych, Soc, Reading), and furthermore by subsections (for example Chem could have circuits, magnets, thermo, mirrors, etc). UEarth allows you to make custom practice tests, and you can choose the type of questions you want. The real beauty of UEarth is that they give detailed explanations for every question, including why the wrong answer is wrong. This allows you to figure out why you chose the wrong answer (which as mentioned, is important). I went through UEarth on my first pass over spring break (and made Anki cards for them), and then went back over a month or so later and redid all of the questions I had gotten wrong previously. This was important, because if I still got them wrong it meant that I didn’t learn the subject. Kaplan - Most people purchase a set of books, and the 2 most common are the Princeton Review and Kaplan. They’re basically the same, so flip a coin or whatever. One thing that is nice with Kaplan is you have access to their online services. At the end of each chapter in the book there is a 15 question quiz, and they have all these online when you make an account. They also provide you with 3 free practice tests, which are nice. NextStep Full Lengths - As I’ve mentioned, I learn best when doing practice questions. NextStep is a third party company that sells practice tests and section banks. Even though they are very deflated, they still are great for testing your content knowledge. I got the bundle of 6 tests, and was able to do so when they had a sale. Depending on how long you are studying for, I would definitely use NS tests if you can. JackWestin CARS practice - JackWestin is apparently just a dude that is good at reading. CARS is one of the hardest sections on the MCAT, and he has a free email service where you sign up and they send you one passage a day. I would recommend doing that literally after you’re done reading the novel I’m writing right now, and then actually do it. I had like a 3 month period where I would just delete the emails every day, and that is stupid. If you do one passage a day you’ll spend only ~10 minutes, but you’ll be doing the equivalent of an entire CARS practice every week. MileDown Anki Deck - Legend has it that Mr. Miledown was an extremely gracious person sho spent his gap year making a comprehensive review of all the MCAT material. The Miledown deck is an Anki deck of a few thousand flashcards that encompass all of the knowledge that should be on the MCAT. Theoretically, if you go through the entire deck and learn everything then you will know everything that will be on the MCAT. It can be downloaded from reddit if you google it. There are several other master decks (the other one I know of is Jack Sparrow), I only used the MileDown one and I was fine but do some digging. Reddit - this was also instrumental for my MCAT success. I was never big into reddit, but I made an account specifically when preparing. There is an MCAT subreddit with an absolute wealth of knowledge. If you have a question, I can almost guarantee that someone has asked it before. There are tons of people that are apparently altruistic af, and will take time out of their day to give detailed answers. Reddit is also huge when reviewing your FL’s. If you have a tricky question google “reddit MCAT FL# C/P #” and there will probably be multiple threads with different explanations. Reddit also has some funny memes and people will post very helpful tips or study sheets. There’s also lots of posts like what I’m writing now, where people will outline their study strategy and give tips. I think one of the reasons people do so bad on the MCAT (after all 50% of people score below a 500) is simply because they are not aware of what is out there. Stuff attached to this email - I attached some of my favorite resources that I used when preparing. Highlights include the Khan Academy document and The Miledown Overall Review pdf. Some of the website links are to very specific topics, but ones that I struggled with and found helpful. It’s helpful, and ctrl f is your friend. I also attached my Anki decks. What I Wish I Did Differently: I obviously got a great score, however there were several things that I would have changed. As mentioned, I wasted a lot of time on my content review. Unless you are actively recalling the content, there is very little you will learn from reading and taking notes. I could have easily shaved a couple hundred hours off my study time if I kept this in mind. If I had an actual schedule to follow, I would definitely have been more efficient - some people find that it helps to have a study buddy to keep each other accountable. In addition, I should have been more diligent at following a routine and waking up early. Especially in summer with my test 2 months away, it was really easy to sleep in until 10. I would try to remind myself that if I woke up 3 hours earlier, that means I can finish 3 hours earlier. In the same vein, it is important to set boundaries while you study and try to enjoy your life. I would often try to “study” until 10 at night, which usually consisted of me going on my phone while my laptop was open with flashcards. This is just stupid, either you are studying or not; you can’t halfass it. Miscellaneous You might have noticed that I didn’t do any sort of standardized program. It may work for some, but personally I find that when you’re being taught with everyone else, it is very easy to either get ahead and be wasting your time or fall behind and struggle. I am also poor. Many people like private tutoring, however that is also extremely expensive and many times it is easier to find the answer yourself. In a similar thread, you need to keep in mind that MCAT companies are for profit companies. This is where my cynicism will show through - the primary goal of these companies is to maximize profit, not get you the best score. Of course they want you to do well so they will look good, and I’m sure individual teachers do care, however as a whole they are trying to sell you something. As part of my Kaplan book set I was able to have a 30min call to help plan for studying. When I asked her about other resources like UEarth and Nextstep, it was evident that she was basically told by her boss not to endorse anyone but Kaplan, so she steered me back towards their own products. They are not praying on your downfall, but just keep that in mind when you get advice from someone. Also if you can’t tell already, the MCAT is hella expensive. Including the fee for taking the test, I spent around $1100 throughout the whole process. I was lucky to be in a position where I was able to work over the semester to save up, but it is something to think about. Something that also really helped me was an app called Forest. It is an app that will grow mini virtual trees when you don’t use your phone for a given amount of time. Growing trees gets you coins, which you can use to unlock more trees and even use to get the company to plant real trees. It sounds cheesy, but it was really helpful for me and helped me stay off my phone. A note on mental health: The MCAT is a real bitch, and I knew of lots of people that I either knew personally or saw online that had their mental health really affected. I am lucky enough to not suffer from high anxiety or other disorders, but given how stressful it was for me I can’t imagine dealing with it on top of other shit. At the end of the day, the MCAT is just another standardized test and the score doesn’t define who you are. At worst you would have to retake it, and even if you have to take a gap year it is not the end of the world. Ik you might think it is easy for me to say since I got a good score, but even after I got the score in the back of my mind I was like hmm well if I had gotten XYZ right maybe I would’ve done even better. Unless you’re a genius you probably won’t get a 528, and that is okay. Do the best you can, remind yourself that med school admissions are holistic, and at the end of the day remember to take time for self care. Alright folks that’s a wrap. I think I included most of my thoughts, but I’m sure I forgot a few things. Let me know if you have any other questions, you can reply to this email or just text me. Feel free to send this to your friends, I really don’t care and I want everyone to do as best they can on the MCAT. We are all smart and capable and we will all get into medical school and be doctors someday. I believe in you. Everything you need to know in science: https://jackwestin.com/resources/mcat-content/aamc-mcat-science-outline Electrostatic Equations: https://www.reddit.com/Mcat/comments/ha9rff/tips_for_understanding_electrostatics_instead_of/ Understanding linear to chair conformations of sugars: https://www.organicchemistrytutor.com/converting-between-fischer-haworth-and-chair-forms-of-carbohydrates/ Converting 3rd party FL scores to actual ones: http://joel.vg/converting-3rd-party-mcat-scores-to-actual-scores/ Memorizing Erikson stages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BcwntGAB34 Link to MileDown MCAT Overall Review (too large to attach): https://www.reddit.com/MCAT2/comments/96hwed/umiledown_s_god_tier_review_sheets/
In the 20 years I’ve been playing, I’m fortunate to have very few horror experiences. I guess thats because for the majority of that time, I’ve been lucky to have had gm’d for the same group. As time goes by people get married, get jobs, move, schedule conflicts, and basically life arises and this group eventually moved to gaming from twice a week to once to once a month and eventually not at all. I mentioned in my previous story a sorcerer. The player of the sorcerer and i are still best friends, despite it being close to 15 years since that story happened. A about two years ago i moved in with him and one day he told me he wanted to run a mutants and masterminds adventure based on the SCP stories. I thought that sounded awesome. For those of you who don’t know, SCP is an online collection of stories about a fictional organization that tracks down and contains monsters and artifacts, locking them away and studying them and Mutants and masterminds is a superhero rpg. So in my head I’m picturing a cross between the company from heroes meets Cthulhu meets Spider-Man! He invites one of his friends from college who we will call “mark, and i invite one of my old players who we will call Kevin. Then of course there’s the GM, who I’ll call Steven and myself. On game day, Kevin can’t make it, but we forge ahead anyway. After making characters the three of us play through about half a session before Steven wraps it up for the night saying he needs time to “think about what will happen next.” We had only been playing for 2 1/2 hours, counting character creation. He told me later he hadn’t even come up with the monster yet despite it being his idea and he set up the date for playing, and wasn’t working at the time. A week later he calls the campaign because he just can’t figure out anything to do with it and its cutting into his time playing video games. This could have been the end. This should have been the end, but it wasn’t. I had played again and I liked it. We had 4 people who were committing to a regular game, whose schedules all lined up, and I wanted to run. I talk with Steven and let him know that i want to run a campaign. Ive already spoken with Kevin and mark and even got a hold of one of my other players who i will call Vince to join in a Star Wars group, and invited Steven to join. I told him the idea was that it would be fireflyesq. An episodic adventure of a crew who were an ensemble cast, sort of speak, just trying to get along. Doing missions to keep their ship up and running and get some money on the side. Those who were on the outskirts of the law and society, who could be a. Bounty hunter one week and a smuggler the next. Making friends and enemies in every port along the way. “I want to be the pilot.” Were his first words. I’m cool with that. No one else had chosen any roles on the ship yet, he was the first person who I spoke to about what the plot would be, and we’re typically first come first serve when it comes to characters. Besides, it would all be figured out in session zero. If anyone had any problems with a that they could talk it out then. I nodded and gave the ok. “And I want to own the ship.” well, i thought. The ship has to belong to someone. But still. “I don’t know....” I began. Him cutting me off “If I’m piloting it might as well be my ship.” “Fair enough.” I shrugged, not really seeing the harm that could do. Its not as if everyone wouldn’t have a stake in the ship and missions based around each character anyway. “And i want to be a member of the rebellion.” “You did catch that I wasn’t going to make the rebellion and empire a big thing. I mean, they would give you an occasional mission or sometimes you may have to outrun one of their ships, but that was about it.” “I wan’t to be in the rebellion or I’m not going to play.” That wasn’t the full threat and I knew it. From his tone he wouldn’t just not play, but he would whine and be as obnoxious as he could during game time to make it hard for the players. I sigh. I could make this work. Sure, he could be an undercover operative. That could be pretty fun. I’ve done that myself. Occasionally he would get jobs that would secretly help the rebellion cause. And then the group could start to figure it out, making it a mystery. What is in the thing they are smuggling, or whose the person they are hunting for a bounty, until they eventually figure out they are working for the rebellion. Yeah, that could be a fun thing behind the scenes. “Okay,” I begin. “But just a warning not everyone on the ship will be working for the rebellion.” About to lay out this idea for him, when he cuts me off. “If they aren’t rebellion I wouldn’t let them on my ship.” I blink. I had told him point blank that I didn’t want to run a rebellion/empire war campaign. That I didn’t want it to be a central point besides for background. “What?” I asked disbelieving. “You did catch what i said, right?” “Yeah, but if I’m the pilot AND its my ship, then I wouldn’t let anyone onboard who wasn’t a member of the rebellion. We would be doing rebellion work and jobs.” I sighed again. For the sake of my friendship and the peace in my home, I agreed. Making a retreat to my room before he could dictate the game to me further. In my room I start thinking. ‘Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. I hadn’t told anyone else what i was planning on with the story besides for a Star Wars campaign. I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate as a gm, so I was planning on using published adventures and adventure hooks from the fantasy flight games twitter, and I could still do that. I would just have to use some age of rebellion books instead of edge of the empire. Really, its not what i was planning on running, but i could still make it work. If this was the last of it, I wouldn’t be writing this story. Skip forward a few days to character creation/first session. I had picked up an introductory module for age of rebellion and familiarized myself with it. Steve, just as he had promised had made a pilot. It was a very well rounded character, having a little of every ability but only real focus is piloting. A good support character and honestly i was pretty happy with it. Mark had made a sniper specializing in heavy two handed ranged weaponry. Kevin made an infiltrator talker character, and Vince made an engineer droid who could only talk in imperial propaganda as he had originally been a rebel spy. Anytime anyone starts talking about their character, Steve chimes in. Someone has electronics. So does Steve. Someone has mechanics? So does Steve. Someone had medicine? Steve doesn’t, but thats okay cuz Steve is “da biggest and bestest pilot in the galaxy.” Something we heard several times during creation. The module begins with the group going to a rebel base under assault! Steve refuses to allow anyone to help him pilot despite the fact his ship was made for 2 pilots, because “I’m the pilot, so I’m the only one who should. Besides, I’m da biggest and bestest pilot in the rebellion, so i don’t need your help!” They’re being pursued by tie fighters AND have to fly through a cavern with long hanging stalactites and stalagmites while under fire, plus at a penalty with out a copilot. One of the players says they can at least use the turret and Steve tries to shoot it down, saying “this is my ship and no one will do anything in it but me!” I step in and bring up that Mark had gunnery skill, and kevin could help pilot the ship, and Vince could be repairing the ship during this. “No! This is my ship and the only thing I’m good at!” We all roll our eyes. By some miracle he brings the ship in close enough to the base for its guns to shoot off the tie fighters, but the ship is messed up, and Steven is mad. Muttering angrily under his breath mad. In the next phase of the adventure there is an ATAT making its way down a canyon right to the base, its supported with 4 at-st’s and something like 50-100 storm troopers. In the canyon there is a walkway carved that has explosives planted on it and an electronics check is needed to cause them to go boom. The droid has the bet electronics so he volunteers, playing a clip of “for the empire!” There are blaster canons along the cliff edge that can be used with a gunnery check to slow down the walkers. Marks character who had gunnery volunteers to use one. There are hidden entry ways allowing for combat with the troops in the canyon, the Kevin volunteers thinking he can use his cloaking shield and claws to take down troopers quietly, and speeders that can be piloted to help slow the walkers and provide cover for the cannons. Everyone turns to Steve is again, the ‘biggest and bestest pilot in the galaxy!’ Steve says “what’s the point? The OP will just try to screw me over like he did on the way in here! He obviously has it out for me!” I wanted to explode, but thankfully the rest of the group had my back. They reminded him how he refused to let them do anything. He didn’t let the gunner shoot, he dind’t let the copilot copilot, he didn’t let the mechanic fix, and instead they had to watch him do everything. He sighed and dropped the point, still shooting daggers at me and tried to figure out where best to go. He was reminded once again about the speeders, but just shook his head and muttered something about me. “I could do the explosives. I have one rank in computer.” The droid had 3. “I could use the turret. I have one rank in gunnery.” The Gunnar had 3. He began to argue with everyone that because he had a 1 rank in something, he obviously was the best choice for everything. I can shoot! I can use computers! I can do this, so i should do this and you should do something else. The rest of the group had had enough at this point and were arguing back. Finally, after some test roles were done and they compared the size of their cocks, i mean dice pools, he agreed to fire a blaster pistol from the canyon face. The battle itself isn’t important. The droid made the booms go boom, the group slowed down the enemies enough for him to reach the explosives, and the party won. The only noteworthy point was that that gunners canon took a hit which gave him a critical injury when it exploded. In the ffg games a critical you roll a D% and the higher you roll the worse it is. If you roll a 140 you’re dead. Each critical compounding adding +10 to the check until it’s healed. He rolled and his arm was paralyzed. That was where i called that session. Afterward, i spoke with Steve and let him know that it wasn’t just his story. This was a group campaign, and that everyone can do something, and even if it isn’t him, he can still cheer them on or offer his help. He said yeah, he knew and he would do better next session. I let it slide. He and I had spoke, he seemed to know what he had done was wrong. The party had stood up for themselves as well, and he apologized. I thought it would get better. Then the next session happened. In between sessions i had made a new character for Mark to take over since his was badly injured. I had made another heavy weapons expert, so the party didn’t lose that damage, with some medical capability, that being something the party was missing. When we begin, and people are taking out their character sheets, I inform everyone that the good part about being in an army like they were is that when someone is injured or killed, there can be someone new assigned to the unit. I take out the character i had made Mark and said if he wanted to he could play this, or he could make up a new character and bring that one in instead until his gunner was healed. Steven has a fit. “You can’t just bring in a new character!” “Why not?” I ask in a calm voice. I am very proud that i stayed in a calm, reasonable voice for this entire fight. “Because you just can’t!” “Yes, yes Mark can if he chooses to.” “How are you gonna explain it in game? It doesn’t make any sense?” “I’m pretty sure i just did. They are someone new assigned to your unit.” “But where are they gonna come from?” “The rebellion, of course.” “But what about party cohesion?” “You’re in the army. Your cohesion is whoever youre ordered to be with. Besides, its not permenant. And this character fills a void your were missing. He’s not only a heavy weapon specialist like Marks old character, but also a medic.” I say with a smile handing the sheet over to Mark. “Again that is if you choose to use him. Like i said, you can build a new..” “The rebellion won’t fix him up! He’s just some random soldier!” I can almost hear him saying “he’s not my awesome, bestest pilot in the galaxy.” Looking back at Steven, “why not. The rebellion has an entire medical frigate. And he’ll get a baseline prosthetic arms, not anything special that will give him bonuses, that is if the bacta doesn’t take care of it.” This fight went on for nearly 5 minutes with poor Mark caught in the middle. Finally Steven plays his trump card. “If i was injured, i wouldn’t want to bring in a new character or be healed. I’d want to play through it!” Mark sighed. “Its okay, I’ll stick with my Gunner.” Looking dejected he handed me back the sheet. He had actually been excited about the medic, eyes lighting up looking over, pointing out interesting things it could do. Steve looked triumphant. “Are you sure? You don’t need to let Steven dictate your character. You are a two handed specialist who lost a hand. The weapons you could use you don’t have any ranks in, plus you have a penalty from the injury, and if you take a crit it’s guaranteed to be worse. On top of that, your armor is ruined from the explosion so you’re defenseless. This isn’t Stevens decision to make, its not his character, its yours.” “Yeah, i guess I’m sure.” With Mark having made his decision there was nothing else i could do. “Okay.” Sigh. “I guess you can go to the quartermaster and get a new set of armor and a blaster pistol so you can have a weapon.” “No he can’t! We don’t have time!” Again Steve butts in. “I guess i won’t.” Mark says, giving in. I let Mark know he could but he shakes his head no and asks to move on. In the next section of the adventure its revealed there is a traitor and its up to the party to figure out who it is. The group narrows down its list of suspects, and split. Half the group goes to do background research and half go to interrogate the first suspect. Steve decides to take mark with him and talk to the suspect because he has a rank in intimidation so he can do it. “But i have more ranks in intimidate and persuasion and a higher presence...” Kevin began, being a talking specialist at that. “Its okay, i have 1 rank, and I want to do it and ill do it better.” “Okay,” said Kevin, just done with it. “I’d rather go with and help with research. I’m pretty hurt...” Mark began “I’m about to confront a traitor. You’re the only other fighter here and i want some protection.” Kevin and i scoffed, remembering that close quarters combat was a speciality of Kevin’s. I stuck with the droid and kevins character, letting them know what they found could be fed to the interrogators and help them with their checks. A few checks in and i hear “I want to interrogate the suspect!” Steven announces loudly, speaking over me while i was in the middle of letting them know what they found. “Okay, hold on just one second, let me finish with them.” “No! I want to interrogate him.” “I got that, but I’m with the other party and...” “They can wait until after i talk to him. what they’re doing doesn’t matter anyway.” Vince says “just do it. You can come back to us.” Giving me a long suffering look that only a big brother can (note, hes not my big brother, but he is Kevin’s). “Okay” i say, turning my attention to Steven. “What’s the plan.” “Me and kevin are going to interrogate the first suspect. I want to do it!” Steven starts questioning, and rolls a success, but a despair. A despair is a crit bad thing in the ffg games. The man realizing that he had been found pulls out his blaster and shoots Steven in the face with a stun bolt, knocking him out. “But thats not fair! I have one rank in intimidation!” “Yes,” responded Vince. “And hes a trained imperial spy who realized his cover was blown and protected himself. Maybe next time let the person who specialized in talking do the talking, or let the researchers finish the research because we had just found that out and could have warned you!” Mark goes down next, the guy who didn’t want to be there, and was forced to by Steve, goes down. Since he already had a critical injury, he takes another one. This time he loses his entire arm, and the spy escapes. I ask Mark if he wants to bring in a new character, because this is the time i could. “Someone could have seen what happened and come along,” i reason, pulling out the backup character i had made. “No he doesn’t!” Mark rolled his eyes and shook his head. The group tracks down the villain, and the guy who is a two handed ranged weapon specialist is forced to fight the martial artist with one arm, no armor, and no weapon already injured. He goes down in the first round, and get a new critical injury, now permenantly paralyzed from the waist down. And before the villain is taken out, the Steve, who was so proud of his 1 rank in ranged light crit misses, hitting mark and giving him one last injury, causing permanent brain damage. After they won the fight, Steve said he needed a break. I stayed behind and spoke with Steve while everyone left. “I really messed up tonight.” “Yeah.” “I’m ashamed of how i behaved in this game so far.” “Your should be.” “It’s because of me Mark needs a new character, isn’t it?” “Yeah.” “I’m gonna stay out the rest of the night.” “That’s probably a good idea. I’ll tell the guys youre not feeling well.” “Thanks.” We finished that nights session without Steven, and in the next week he texted a personal apology to every player. Despite all of us agreeing to give him another chance, he didn’t play the next week either. That was the last session as life once again reared its ugly head. To me he didn’t just apologize for the railroading, for pushing around the other players, but also for forcing me to run a game that i didn’t want to run. That surprised me, i thought he had forgotten that. Though we’re no longer roommates, Steven is still one of my best friends. We speak at least once a week. He is one of the most generous and caring people i know. He is the kind of man who will give you the shirt off of his back and ask if you’re okay while doing it. He loves to tell stories and wants to help make the world a better place, even if he doesn’t know how to. He will talk about video games and anime and cars for hours, and will help you move, even if you moved the weekend before. And i mean lifting the heavy stuff too. I put this here because its easy to judge someone based on their worse times, but with him those moments are fleeting. This is who is normally is. TLDR: player railroads the gm into playing a game he didn’t want to play, forces himself into every role, and then browbeats the other players until it kills their character. Edit. I’ve been asked a lot why I allowed him to do so much. While when he started in game i spoke to him when the events occurred, let him know he was over stepping boundaries, stealing the spotlight, and called him out on his various actions, and spoke with him after the session to remind him this was a team game, I want to explain why I allowed him so much freedom when it came to dictating terms of the game beforehand. Something I didn’t mention was that I was going through a divorce and he had allowed me to move in with him. I didn’t want to lose my home and become homeless again because of a game.
It's been a while since I made a big post. Lots of people are still messaging me about the energy sector post, especially for the ENPH tip, so I'm here to show my portfolio. I don't own all companies yet, this is partially hypothetical. I'm holding on to a reasonable cash position for a possible new downturn, but I have starting positions in most companies and will DCA. I will try to keep it summarized, as I have done quite a lot of analysis on each of them. I'll draw the main picture and give the most important arguments for my choices, but I'm not expanding too much. If you're interested, you can DM me to talk about them more. Let me start by saying I'm a growth investor. I always look for a combination of growth with a great track record, if possible at a reasonable price. There are exceptions as you will see below, but the main balance stays the same. I'm not a defensive investor, but no aggressive one either. My timeline is 2-5 years at least (due to a possible start of a small business), but I would gladly hold on to these companies 10+ years. TLDR; For you guys not interested in my portfolio, I've added a short list of interesting smaller cap companies at the end, most of them trading at decent values. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES - $AMD This one is becoming a blue chip, but has more than enough growth potential to live up to those high valuations. Preferred by gamers and beating their biggest competitor in the CPU market hard. While AMD and INTC were close competitors at the beginning of the 21st century, INTC took the lead by a lot. Since 2017, they introduced 7nm CPU's and GPU's and they are closing the gap fast. Not only are their chips more performant, they are also cheaper. Market cap $60B vs $261b. Those next generation chips lead them to new partnerships, often beating INTC. Microsoft, a long time Intel customer, began using AMD chips in their Surface laptops. Lenovo using AMD for their new servers. Nvidia started using the chips in their AI products. AMD is also used by Apple's high-end laptops, while Intel (used in the budget range) will probably get replaced by Apple chips made in-house. Apart from laptops, AMD has government contracts to deliver supercomputers in 2021/2023 and they are used in both PS and XBOX consoles, to give a few examples. For the CPU market, AMD is destined to take over, but they're also taking on NVDA for their GPU's. They have been catching up for years and in 2019 they finally made a better performing GPU in the $350-400 price range. There is a possibility to gain GPU market cap since NVDA has been pushing their prices due to the lack of competition. Therefore, with AMD stepping up their game, they need to give up market share or lower their margins. Financial Assets over liabilities are x1.88. Cash to debt ratio well above industry average, debt to EBITDA well below IA. ROE 17.12% and ROIC 28.06%. Earnings were growing fast before Covid (125% in Q3, 78% in Q4). Yes they're overvalued, but with their future outlook, I would always buy below $49. Doubts Now that they are done catching up, the question is, will they outperform in the future. To gain more market share of Nvidia, they need to be better, not equally good. AMD also needs to control the heating better, as it is one of their long term problems. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- MASTERCARD - $MA Fintech companies like SQ and PYPL are a great investment. However, a lot of big companies will (and already did) implement online financial services. MA is able to easily work with multiple of those companies and they're using their global presence pretty well, that's why they're my pick for the fintech industry. They launched Mastercard Accelerate last year, implementing those online paying platforms and letting start-ups take advantage of their global presence to grow and transform very fast. Last year they acquired Ethoca (managing e-commerce fraud) and Vyze (platform to connect merchants with multiple renders, giving them the opportunity to get those financial needs for start-ups). MA is basically helping start-ups to grow faster, which will result in more financial transactions in the future. Last but not least, they like to focus on expanding to countries where there isn't much competition yet. They are expanding their exposure to Middle East and Africa, working with local networks and e-commerce platforms. They are in a strong position to capitalize those regions in the future and take on market leader Visa even more. They get compared a lot to Visa, so I'll expand on that subject a bit as well. While V is focussing on performance and speed, MA plays the cyber security card. They are already working on ways to implement cryptocurrency and Mastercard tend to have more growth potential vs stability from market leader Visa. While V is in the lead, MA is more widely used by fintech companies, which shows potential take-over in the future. Next to their credit services, they also own debit service Maestro, which is widely used in Europe. Financial Returns as high as 150% (ROE) and 60% (ROIC). Very large margins and perfectly stable balance sheet. High EPS growth YoY, 53% and 42% in the last two years. Quick ratio 1.87. V has more assets and even bigger margins, however MA wins in returns and cash. In terms of more growth, I like to focus on those last numbers more. Doubts It's a blue chip at a $300B market cap. Their growth potential might be limited, although I see them as one of the better picks between blue chips. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- ENPHASE ENERGY - $ENPH I already talked about solar energy in another post, so I'm gonna skip the explanation. As some of you know my choices were ENPH and SEDG, so I'll explain a bit about why I choose ENPH here. Mainly it's because of their financials, so I'll dive that straight away. Quick ratio - 2.35 vs 1.74 ROE - 142.94% vs 21.51% ROIC - 85.51% vs 25.81% Net margin - 25.81% vs 10.28% However I think SEDG balance sheet is a lot better and safer, ENPH is working on their future more efficient. They are paving the way smoothly with bigger margins and return on investments. Although SEDG might be the better pick right now, ENPH will be the better one in a short while. ENPH is also a bit less overvalued and their PEG ratio is lower, which makes them the better pick to get in right now. Diving into the products as well, ENPH just has the better and more efficient product. Their micro inverters are more durable (20 vs 12 years) and give the chance to increase or decrease the amount of solar panels easily, depending on your personal situation. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- GALAPAGOS - $GLPG I'm not a big fan of biotech companies, but these guys have my attention. Not because they're working on Covid vaccines, but because of two reasons. First one is them getting back-up from Gilead Sciences. That's the push they needed to start operating worldwide, increasing their potential market cap. Now that they have the cash from GILD, they can keep on buying interesting divisions and increase their growth. While having almost no long term debt, they are set pretty well with about $4 billion extra in cash. Second, they have multiple medicines in later trial phases, with Filgotinib as their biggest one. They had a setback on those results, but the company is very confident, giving an opportunity to get them at a decent price. I wouldn't be surprised if they partner up with another big pharmaceutical company in the metabolic disease section. Financial High PE (84 vs 44 average), but PEG ratio is 1.2. Quick ratio 9.28. ROIC 75.91% and ROE 7%. Became profitable this year with 16.25% net margin. 38.7% YoY EPS growth. Doubts Like all biotech players, there's a lot depending on medicines getting through phase trials and being commercialized. If Filgotinib will fail, their stock will obviously fall. However since they are backed by a big US giant, they can commercialize the product faster and on a bigger global scale if trials succeed. That's what gives them the advantage in comparison to other biotech companies for me. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- WALT DISNEY - $DIS This one has got me doubting a lot. I've taken them off and put them back on my list multiple times, but eventually I decided to keep them at least 2 years to see how they will evolve into streaming. Biggest advantage they have on their competitors is they basically have a monopoly on kids entertainment. Kids are growing up with electronic devices and content, so they're creating customers at a very young age. That's how Coca Cola used to work. They targeted 14-16 year olds, dumping loads of money into advertising which resulted in life long customers, as people didn't change cola brands often. Disney+ is a big hit and they won't get so much competition from other streaming services as Netflix and Roku will. They have one of the strongest defined brands out there and they know perfectly how to build and maintain their company. It's also still unclear how sports with public will evolve, but it's certain streaming will become even bigger after Covid. Therefore their money-losing ESPN acquisition could even turn into a moneymaker. Financial I can't really say great things about their financials. ROE is 12.67%, above 10% is decent. Assets over liabilities are x1.85 and debt to equity is 0.61. You could apply the saying "too big to fail' here, but that's about it. The bad financials are mainly caused by their big investment to streaming of course and they're working on it hard. They doubled their cash position, increasing their quick ratio from 0.75 to 0.89. Doubts I would say financials are their weak point here. They still have to go through some bad weather this and next year I would say. Them doubling their cash position in Q1 was soothing, as I see it being the biggest issue for the future. It might be better to wait it out and keep an eye on them for next year, but I wanted to take a position already. Not higher than 8% of my portfolio though. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- MICROSOFT - $MSFT They don't really an introduction I guess. 2nd biggest player for cloud services with Azure. Naming Satya Nadella as CEO and making the transition from hardware to software in 2014 were the best decisions they could've made. Acquired the government contract with Pentagon, however there's still uncertainty about it. In short, Amazon is claiming they were about to win the contract, but Trump criticizing the company would've lead to calling off the deal. For me, that's probably the main reason why MSFT didn't fly as high as their fellow cloud competitors yet. Financial Assets over liabilities x1.67. ROE and ROIC respectively at 43.82% and 28.88%. Quick ratio of 2.88, 0.65 debt to equity and 1.86 cash to debt. Decent financials, great returns. Talking about blue chips, I would say MSFT is still fairly valued with a PEG ratio just below industry average. Also paying a small dividend. Doubts The Pentagon contract allegations could be pretty negative for the company. They will probably not come back on their decision, cause if they do, MSFT will claim they already made big investments towards them and things will just keep on dragging on. Even without the contract, MSFT should be a 10 year hold while buying on dips. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- INNOVATIVE INDUSTRIAL PROPERTIES - $IIPR Haven't read a lot about them here on Reddit, but they're a very decent investment. Basically, they buy properties from cannabis companies and leases them back to the sellers, giving them the cash they need to grow faster and IIPR keeps the long term advantage of renting out those properties. They need to buy about 6-8 properties a year to keep their growth rate going and they already bought 7 this year. They still have a lot of cash ready to take advantage of the crisis. Not only are they 20% undervalued right now, they have a lot more growth potential after that and on top of it, they pay close to 5% dividend. I'm not a big fan of betting on the best cannabis company for the future, but IIPR is a great buy to have exposure in that industry. It doesn't happen very often I come across a company that combines growth potential with a high dividend, but IIPR does. Financial Quick ratio 6.75, cash to debt 2.8 (while REITs have an 0.07 average). Net margins 13% above average. Assets over liabilities x4.88. Annual EPS growing by more than 150% and about 41% in the last quarter before Covid. They just missed Q1 estimates, but it was only an 8% drop from Q4, performing way better than other REITs. Doubts IIPR has held a lot of new investment rounds, diluting shares. Of course extra capital will result in higher growth and will eventually be positive in the long run. There has been a drop in these last few days due to the announcement of selling 1 million more shares soon. I would look at it as an opportunity to get an even better price on them. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- TELADOC HEALTH - $TDOC It's the only company I don't own yet. I can't force myself to invest more than $140 per share for them, although I really like their business model. A lot of people are skipping doctors visits these days, going straight away to get medicines and counting on the advice of pharmacists. A lot of times, there's more examination needed. Not only do I see them succeeding in their field, I see them as an essential part of the automation of the pharmacy industry. It's a useful tool in emergencies, giving advice and deciding how serious the condition is, if (fast) medical care is needed. Teladoc will also play a role in insurance and giving the employers a checking tool. 98.9% of their shares are owned by institutions. Financial In terms of profitability and returns, not great of course. They are estimated to get profitable in 2023. Great balance sheet, assets over liabilities x2.66. Quick ratio 6.14, cash to debt 1.06, debt to equity 0.48. Doubts It's hard to see if a company is well managed before they are profitable. Their moat isn't very narrow, however I feel being one of the first ones gives you a big advantage in this field. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- DRAFTKINGS - $DKNG Gonna keep this one pretty short, there has been enough posts about Donkey Kong. For me, the most important factor for choosing them in this industry is their fantasy sports section. They are widely popular and that division will only get more interesting while online gambling, and especially in-game betting, gets more and more legalized in the US. Although they realized major revenue growth in 2019, they almost doubled their earnings loss. Main reason of course having to develop their platform and system. Good thing is, their technology is highly scalable, meaning they margin will grow massively while expanding in to more states and countries. Not many ratios available yet, so that's about the only financial information I own atm. The only negative I see is their pretty wide moat, so this one should be monitored more closely in the future. But for now, they have the momentum and are one of the most popular choices, great investment. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- RAYTHEON TECHNOLOGIES - $RTX As many of you know, two great companies (UTC and RTN) merged together in April. While United focussed on aircraft engines (Pratt & Whitney), Raytheon manufactured weapons, military and commercial electronics. They always delivered advanced technologies and them gaining multiple government contracts in the last decade is confirmation of their performant products. Raytheon will continue to grow their leadership in different segments. Because of their diversity, they seem perfectly in place to grow even more into an aerospace & defense giant. Engines, aerostructures, avionics, sensors, cybersecurity and other software solutions are just a few examples of their working fields. Financial With a PE ratio of 13.58 and PB ratio of 1.41, this is probably the most undervalued stock in my portfolio. Assets over liabilities x1.43. The rest of their financials isn't that great. UTC was carrying a lot of debt, but because of the merger, it will be better balanced as RTN was only carrying $2 billion net debt. If they can decrease their debt and optimize their merger, they are set to be the new number one in defense. Doubts It's still unclear how the merger will work out financially and logistically. In theory, they should be very well armed (pun intended) to take on LMT as market leader. Their exposure to commercial aircrafts is also a big threat, but it's less of an issue because they can make up with their other practices. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- As you can see, I've tried to get the best blue chips with still some growth potential and stable growth companies together. Since a lot of companies already got mentioned on this forum, I'll include a bonus round of interesting companies I came across during my search for the best companies. I didn't include them in my portfolio mainly because I feel the chance of them succeeding and living up to their future potential is more risky than others. For you looking for higher risk, higher reward, check out these companies below.
$INMD. They offer minimally-invasive aesthetic medical products for various procedures, such as liposuction with simultaneous skin tightening, body and face contouring. They are actually the only company in my watchlist that scored maximum on my financial checklist. I love to watch their financials. While we're in an overvalued market, INMD has only 18.73 PE and 0.6 PEG. They certainly got hit by Covid, but I would be very surprised if they don't multiply their market share over the next years.
$SMCI. Based mainly on servers and storage solutions. They are the supplier for cloud computing and AI based companies. They were ranked 18th fastest growing company by Fortune Magazine in 2016, but they still have a long way possible to grow. I see them stagnating a bit for a few years, but they definitely have potential in the long run. Financially very stable, big on cash to make some acquisitions and trading at only 14.84 PE.
$CDLX. Great business model. They basically turn financial transaction data into valuable information for advertising. They show returns as high as 30:1 for advertising spent. Not only is the online payment industry growing fast, but after Covid companies will need to work their advertising budgets even more efficiently. CDLX has momentum and will increase that market cap massively. That future outlook has a price unfortunately and I feel they're too expensive right now.
$OLED. They hold patents on ultra high definition OLED screen technology. There's still a large transition going on from LED to OLED screens. They are estimated to increase their manufacturing with 50% by the end of 2021. Unfortunately most of that growth is already priced in right now. It doesn't take away the longer term potential, but it doesn't make it that sexy of a buy right now.
$OMCL. Omnicell provides pharmacy automation solutions and other tools for healthcare systems. Big on cash, low on debt. They have an interesting business and the automation of healthcare will continue to grow, however they are also trading a bit above value.
$PCOM. A technology company based on e-commerce and services through loyalty programs. Most of their partners are airlines, which explains their difficulties of getting back up since the drop. At the moment it's unsure how this will work out. There will barely be room for bargains or rewards, however while the industry has to build up again, there's an opportunity to take away long time customers from competitors. Although they have enough cash to weather this crisis, they are depending on the industry. At PE below 10 and having a decent cash position, it's worth a gamble.
$APPS. Digital Turbine offers a mobile platform mainly for new apps. They have a very high future revenue forecast of 202.2% over the next 3 years. Big on cash and no debt as well. They already acquired Mobile Posse in March, diversifying their platform. Analysts are putting an average price target of $9.88 on them, giving it a 61% potential return.
$NVMI. They develop and produce process control systems used in the manufacturing of semiconductors, mainly focussing on industrializing X-ray and optical technologies like holographic images. Cash to debt 6.1, debt to equity 0.1, quick ratio 5.75, ROE 12.83% and ROIC 20.26%. Their financials are great. The only thing you could say is they are slightly overvalued, but still a very nice buy in comparison to the overvalued tech industry.
$INS. Active in the fintech sector, they provide tech solutions and processing services. Very similar financials to NVMI. Big on cash, almost no long term debt, great returns (ROE 29.7% / ROIC 85.95%) and steady growing EPS. They are also slightly overvalued, but should easily get back to $45 range after the crisis is over.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- So, that's about all I have to share. This will also be my last big post a while. Analyzing stocks has been my main occupation for the last three months, but it's time to work on opening up the hotel and bar again. I hope some of you get something out of this. I'm not a professional so always check again for yourself. I'm gonna hold on to these companies for a while now. Will add some extra capital at the beginning of 2021, so you could expect another big post about my newest findings then. For now, I'm gonna take a break from following the market day in day out and enjoy the weather a bit more. Have a good one!
Chapter is long! Not much to say! Got carried away! Ends with a bang! Enjoy! My Stories Material Differences Wiki Chapter 1 Chapter 47 Where was the sun? Where was the warmth? What happened? Jaeger slowly stumbled around within the dark fog. He couldn’t find his way. This place was supposed to be filled with love, and joy. Where had it gone? Did he know what he was looking for? Or why he couldn’t find it? It was like his limbs were extra heavy and sluggish for some reason. Weighted down by… what? Jaeger wasn’t really sure where he was, or why he was there anymore. But there was this oppressive feeling of… guilt… sadness… He had to find it… What? Something in the dark fog ahead… He could just barely make it out… a wispy figure… “Jaeger…” Why was he so cold… He was trying to reach out for it. The tiny figure shrouded in the mist… surely this was the answer… what he still sought? His fingers stretched… “Jaeger.” Jaeger jerked within the chair as his eyes opened. Slowly looking around and then down a moment he remembered he was hooked up to one of the Tesla chairs to help heal. Then he groaned softly as reality reasserted itself upon him. “Ow…” The chair had been working hard but that didn’t change the fact he was sore all over, and bruised in many places. “How was your nap?” Tanya was asking as she stepped up to his side, looking over the monitor to check his progress. “Shit.” Jaeger muttered and rubbed a hand across his face slowly. “You’re usually a great napper. Dream at all?” Tanya seemed satisfied with whatever the monitor said as she looked at him instead. “Yeah… no… I don’t know.” Jaeger shook his head and rubbed his face a bit more. Usually he woke up feeling so refreshed. “What’s up?” He finally tried to focus on Tanya, figuring there had to be something up. “We’ve got Whispertail up on comms again. There’s also some movement in the valley, and word is MPs have set up roadblocks in Splitstream. Our battle might have drawn attention so I was hoping you could talk to him and sort things out before we have to fight a whole nother battle.” She handed him a tablet then as he yawned and rubbed his eyes with his thumbs a bit harder to try and… rub life into them maybe? He didn’t know why. It just felt like it would do something. “Sure.” He agreed as he sat up a bit more. “What’s our current sitrep with cleanup anyway?” “Kuv’s organized the scavenging efforts. Plenty of good tech to reuse for our bots. Ham is bringing additional units online up at his scrapyard. Tabori swept the area to ensure we didn’t miss anyone. Max is configuring new patrol routes. Figs is making sure his new arm works fine. Probably by jerking off. He said he wanted to know what it was like to jerk off with a small white hand for a change and was trying to turn off the feeling so it would be like a stranger doing it.” Jaeger winced a little at the mental image. “Must you?” He asked. “Just making sure you’re still alive.” Tanya gave his shoulder a pat. “Want me to wait around just in case you need any more info?” Jaeger considered that a while and then nodded as she stepped back and sat down. Looking at the tablet she’d handed him he caught a bit of his reflection in the dark screen. He still looked like shit. Letting out a heavy sigh he slowly rolled his head around to try and work out a mild kink in his neck and then turned it on. Then he just stared at the call button trying to think of how to best do this. Finally he just shrugged and hit it. “Super Cereal, this is Tone Deaf. Please respond.” He waited a few seconds and was about to send again when the comm crackled a moment. “This is a secure line. Though I am supposing the names are to try and make it clear it’s really you.” Whispertail’s voice crackled a bit but was mostly clear. “I couldn’t remember what you’d called me when you called before. Figured this would work. We’re still alive, and we won. Did your ship survive? I wasn’t sure how to warn you without a secure line.” Jaeger hoped Ham’s ruse earlier had worked. “It suffered heavy damage, but it avoided outright destruction. Even my crew was not expecting… that. I wish to speak with you in person. Are you accepting visitors?” Jaeger arched a brow at that and glanced over at Tanya who just shrugged. “Hangar works.” She confirmed. “We’re open to visitors. But isn’t this a secure line?” Jaeger asked and looked back at the tablet, as if it would tell him if he was being spied on. “Some things are best discussed face to face.” Whispertail somewhat ominously replied. “I’d be happy to have you here. I’m a bit… under the weather. Ah… injured. So the discussion might have to take place partially in a med bay. But you’re certainly welcome.” Jaeger wasn’t sure what to make of it. “Then I shall arrive shortly. Please do not shoot my transport out of the sky.” The call cut then and the tablet showed him a ship’s tracking beacon instead which he handed off to Tanya. “Should we be worried?” She asked just as he was pondering the same thing. “I don’t… think so? Even if his cruiser is damaged he’s got Pact naval assets around here for sure. He could still have the compound bombarded.” Jaeger scratched his head then and just shrugged all over again. “I guess we’ll just have to find out. Tell Tabori not to shoot the ship. Get… uh… Is Brandy-Lynn doing anything?” “If she is it can’t be important.” Tanya replied. “Get her and Figs and we’ll all meet him in the hangar. No armor, no weapons. Leave Tabori outside.” Jaeger rubbed his chin then as he thought it over. “You sure?” Tanya confirmed, giving him a look. “Yeah… yes.” Jaeger nodded with more confidence. “Wait is Ham in the air?” “He’s at the scrap yard like I told you.” Tanya reminded him as Jaeger waved it off. “Uh, Tami? The tech? Is she with him?” Tanya nodded. “Alright… Who else is here? Kuv. Keep him out of sight. Bring Max and Raven down. We’ll all meet him in the hangar then. I don’t know what he wants but I want to put on a friendly face.” “Got it.” Tanya nodded and started to turn when Jaeger had a brief half remembered glimpse into his dream. “Do you think Leona survived?” The words were out just before he could process what he was even asking. Tanya looked back then and frowned a little. “The computer was wiped. If anything is left it’s in your implant. So… I don’t know. Memories can be hard to shake.” With that she turned and walked out, leaving him alone in the cold sterile medbay. A shiver swept through him then and he shuddered a moment. “What implant?” He asked aloud and squinted a moment as his head hurt. Groaning he leaned back in the chair and turned it on a little higher intensity while watching the tablet. He wanted to be up and active when Whispertail arrived. Feeling his muscles clench and relax through his body was a… uncomfortable experience to say the least. But it gave him something to focus on. Show Whispertail the possible location of Marque’s fortress. Enlist his help to destroy it. Get the code fragments. Then… what? Would Whispertail let him slink back off into the wilds? What would happen to the compound? Whispertail had to report to his superiors. What did they know? What would they think of rogue Revenant still running around? Would the Ravex help shift the blame towards Marque? Would he need to try and get Max and Raven out? To send them where? Whispertail had met Kuv before, it wouldn’t be terribly hard to track him down… Did he just assume the Obsidian Guard would be his friends? What kind of asshole was he to put so much faith in a former enemy that he had met so recently? Yet, every time they did interact Whispertail proved to be a capable and meaningful ally. Was that itself some kind of act? Get him to lower his guard? Or did he truly respect Jaeger as a friend? Too many questions. Not enough info. The ship was getting closer, so he finally deactivated the machine. Groaning softly as the last pulse of electricity ran through his body as it shut down. Swinging his legs off and then standing up slowly he had to grip the headrest for support a moment. Felt like he’d just been sitting on the can for too long… feet were numb. Some super soldier he was… Once some feeling returned he carefully curled his toes inside his shoes a moment and then began to shakily walk towards the hangar. Each step carried with it a little more confidence as his body seemed to realign itself with his continued existence. As he stepped into the hangar and looked around he found it to be the same as always, and yet different at the same time. A number of deactivated bots were lined up against a wall on the far side. Waiting their turn to be pulled into a repair bay to be worked on. Cases of ammo, and rockets were laid out to resupply the Vantahawk. The smell of cordite and gunpowder hung heavily in the air, burning at his nostrils a moment before he adjusted to it and the smell seemed to blend in and disappear. A parting kiss from an old friend. Bertha was the only active inhabitant at the moment. Though for now all she did was stand vigil over the deactivated bots and watch. Her massive red eye slowly sweeping the area. “Did you have a glorious battle Bertha?” He called out as her eye stopped and focused on him. “Unit designation Jaeger. Battle conclusion parameter glorious not found. Battle conclusion parameters victory or defeat. Battle analysis concludes parameter victory met.” The bot gave a salute then with a raise of her autocannon for a moment. He supposed there was more truth to the statement than the bot might know… What was glory anyway? But he focused on something else. “You sound different, you know Bertha. Was your update alright?” He mentioned her unusual speech pattern. Did she get reset somehow? “Trooper level designation. Experience level boot. Requires adjusted speech. Addendum translation provisor unit designation Tex. I gotta talk slow. So these dumb unit designation motherfuckers. Can understand me.” The bot gestured at the trooper bots while Jaeger raised an eyebrow at the translation Tex had provided for her. A bot, advising another bot, on how to translate to… human? Shit talking? That was new… “Good to know. I have some friends coming. Ravex. Obsidian guard. Please don’t attack them unless they attack first.” He asked and the bot just resumed scanning the hangar. “Understood.” Simple as that. At least she didn’t judge him for allying himself with their own enemy. For a moment he looked down at himself then. Olive drab shirt, olive drab sweats. Did some admin clerk centuries ago know what he was doing when he picked the new color for… whoever had first even used olive drab? The Americans? The Brits? Whoever it was they’d spawned a color to mark an entire caste of people forevermore. Was there a Ravex equivalent? The question made him ponder for a bit, thinking back on the various Ravex units that he’d fought over the years. The barracks that they’d seen. They had that kind of… ashy brown a lot. Did all species have some kind of color like that? Shit. What about the Kra’Kto’Sui? The octopeople had a whole nother color receptor didn’t they? Was human fashion… was all fashion other than their own painfully drab in comparison? Or just… garish maybe? Now he had a sudden urge to start researching Kra’Kto’Sui fashion. But before he could do anything about it the door opened and the others started coming through. Tanya first, followed by his kids, then Figs and Brandy-Lynn who had a feather for some reason? Even as he wondered about it he watched Brandy-Lynn use it to brush over Fig’s newfound white arm, which made him reflexively slap at it with his other. Growling then he turned and chased after her as she laughed and raced around the Hangar. For all his concerns about what was going to happen at least those two seemed to be totally normal. Normal for them. “Knock it off.” He called out in his typical dad voice. “No running around the ammo dump idiots.” “She started it!” Figs grumbled as they slowed down. “Obviously. Doesn’t mean you can just chase her around a bunch of missile racks.” He waved around the hangar and shook his head. When he glanced back he saw Raven and Max giving him odd looks. “What?” “Sorry. I just… wasn’t used to hearing you talk like that to anyone else.” Max shrugged. “Yeah it’s strange to know we’re like… your second round of kids.” Raven added with a nod which made both Tanya and Jaeger snort in amusement. “There’s a lot of theories about how to behave as a proper NCO. I guess the dad role just kind of… fits me best.” Jaeger shrugged. “I’m not sure it’s a dad role exactly. I mean… you hopefully don’t take Max and Raven out on leave and get blind fall down drunk with them all that often.” Tanya remarked which made them both chuckle all over again. “He let me try beer a few times.” Max mentioned which made Tanya arch a brow and look from him to Jaeger. “Oh?” She asked. “What did you think?” “Tasted… bleh.” Max’s nose scrunched up a moment as he winced at the memory and stuck out his tongue. “I didn’t do anything to him either.” Jaeger confirmed before Tanya even asked. “I’m telling you all liking beer is Stockholm syndrome. You drink it so much you convince yourselves you actually like it. But it’s awful. Gimme a Mai Tai anyday.” “Oh that sounds great.” Brandy-Lynn nodded as she walked back over. “There’s a place I funded that was supposed to be a hipster bar but I made them turn it into a Tiki place instead because that’s what I felt like at the time. It’s built around an old pool they have a floating bar on now. It’s great.” “Tiki Cove? That place is horrid. It’s so cliche it’s not even funny. Their drinks lack any kind of subtlety not to mention how tacky and lacking in cultural sensitivity the decor is.” Figs crossed his arms and then uncrossed them as the mismatched sizes obviously didn’t make it look right. “If Figs hates it then it sounds good to me.” Jaeger nodded. “What! Sarge! You wound me!” Figs grumpily set a hand on his chest looking offended. “I made you that wonderful cocktail when you came to visit!” “That drink was so bitter and so sour it was like getting punched in the face without any of the good parts of actually getting punched in the face. Which is saying something because there are very few good parts to being punched in the face.” Jaeger shot back with a slow shake of his head. “The sourness and bitterness were meant to enhance the complex experience of the drink! More to a beverage than getting drunk you know.” Figs sniffed and looked away rather disdainfully. “Actually getting punched in the face is a complex experience. Doesn’t mean I enjoy it.” Jaeger countered. Figs looked ready to keep arguing but then there was a beep from the nearby console. “The shuttle is here.” Tanya said. “It’s a typical Obsidian Guard Butterfly. Which means it's armed.” “All their craft are armed.” Jaeger brushed off the insinuation. “Open the hangar.” The doors above them silently opened as they saw the craft approach. Seeing the shuttle moving in still gave him a brief desire to grab a gun, or dive for cover but he ignored it and just waited. The Ravex shuttle was more wing than hull he felt but the Ravex always did enjoy using the flying wing style for their in atmosphere landers and the like. For a moment his eyes went to the turrets on either end of the giant wing but they were obviously powered down and didn’t have any gunners so he relaxed. So far so good… But why did Whispertail want to talk face to face anyway? He’d get his answer soon enough as the ramp slowly opened and the shogun walked down towards him. “Whispertail, welcome to my humble home.” “If your idea of humble is a secret Revenant facility powered by a shard reactor and possessing a full suite of automated defenses I’m unsure what you would consider extravagant.” The Ravex’s usual sense of humor was obviously intact. “It’s an expression. You’ve met some of us, but this is Tanya, my XO.” He gestured briefly at Tanya who nodded. “This is my son Max.” He set a hand on Max’s shoulder who straightened up a bit more, if it was possible to try and stare down the much bigger Ravex. “And this is Raven.” “Hello.” Raven smiled and waved as she was introduced before stepping forward and holding out something small and silver to Whispertail that Jaeger didn’t recognize. “Ah… what is this?” Whispertail asked as he carefully accepted it. “It’s candy. Ravex safe I checked. We haven’t really had time to prepare any other refreshments for guests. Or more traditional Exkishem. Sorry.” Jaeger couldn’t help but snort softly as his daughter did her best to be a good host. He imagined whatever exkishem was, had to be Ravex. Whispertail glanced up at Jaeger then who just shrugged. “Thank you. I shall dine on this when I am able. I do not have any resikel to exchange apologies.” Whispertail bowed his head a moment then and slipped the candy into his armored harness. He looked ready to continue when another voice behind him spoke first. “Where’s Tami?” Jaeger looked up and Whispertail spun around apparently surprised as well to see agent Lexa striding down the ramp. “What are you doing here?” He hissed out at her. “I expressly instructed you to remain at the base!” “And I told you I was coming!” She hissed right back at him. Had she snuck aboard Whispertail’s shuttle? An Obsidian guard shuttle? He was having a really hard time understanding her skill level. Her shooting had been awful, and she hadn’t realized her boss was corrupt as hell. But then that takedown at Funhaven, and now this? “How did you even get past the guards? Your father’s own security detail had promised me they wouldn’t let you out of their sight!” Whispertail hissed as he stomped up to glare down at her. Yet, to her credit she just crossed her arms and glared right back. “Despite what you might think you’re not actually my superior and all orders are merely requests which I am free to ignore. Besides I need to talk to Jaeger.” She started to step past but Whispertail set out a hand to stop her. “I am here to speak with Jaeger. You will wait your turn if nothing else.” Jaeger arched a brow a moment as he noticed how Whispertail’s tail was twitching. She’d gotten under his skin it seemed. Fur. Scales? Wait skin still worked right? He shook his head a moment to stop wondering about the appropriate way to phrase that for a Ravex. She’d certainly pissed him off anyway. “Fine.” She huffed. “But where’s Tami?” She looked past Whispertail at Jaeger then. “Uh she’s with Ham. They’ll be back…” He glanced over at Tanya for a time frame but she just shrugged. “They’ll be back.” Jaeger repeated simply. “Then I’d like to talk to her over your comms at least.” She insisted. “Tanya get her patched in.” Jaeger waved Tanya over and then focused on Whispertail. “Do we need to talk in private?” “Yes.” He nodded and cast a sideways glare at Lexa who was already ignoring him. “This way.” Jaeger waved him on and turned back to walk the way he came leading Whispertail into the medbay he’d been healing up in earlier. The two were quiet as they walked and Jaeger began to wonder just what this little trip was all about. They could have tightbeamed without fear of anyone listening in but Whispertail obviously wanted to be here personally. Once they were inside the medbay Jaeger turned to face the large xeno, casually leaning against a counter to appear as at ease as possible. However once they were alone Whispertail didn’t speak. He just examined Jaeger for a moment and then began to look around the medbay. It wasn’t like he was desperately searching for something. But more… examining the place as a stranger might, trying to determine just what he was looking at. Was he expecting Jaeger to speak first? Was he trying to delay him for some reason and just make him wait? What would be the reason for that? Lets say he had an Obsidian Guard Talon on their way here. Even with things as chaotic as they are after the battle the compound defenses would still pick them up well before they got here. Would he try and kill Jaeger when he found out and attack from the inside? To what end? The others would still be able to take him down, plus the shuttle wouldn’t get out of the hangar without codes. They couldn’t man the turrets without being obvious. No… Jaeger had been as friendly as he could, explaining what Marque was up to, and giving the Ravex all the help he could. Was there something he had let slip? What did he have to slip? He couldn’t figure the Ravex out. “I can’t figure you out Jaeger.” Jaeger blinked as Whispertail set his hands on one of the operating tables, facing away from him as he spoke. Echoing the thought in Jaeger’s head right now. “I can’t figure you out either if that’s helpful.” Jaeger smirked a little, figuring Whispertail would be annoyed. But the Ravex just turned to him looking serious and Jaeger’s smirk faded. “When we met it was a hostile encounter. You tried to kill me.” The big Ravex more announced than accused. “Whoa.” Jaeger held up a hand. “Let's be straight on this. You attacked me first.” “First you were just a heat signature, and then you were more obviously a Revenant. Was I to think after all this time one of you would be… friendly? All the animosity between our peoples and you fault me for assuming you were there to kill me?” Whispertail asked. “I’m not faulting anyone.” Jaeger corrected. “I’m only saying you attacked first. I defended myself. Then when I realized the fight could be ended without either of us dying… I so ended it.” “Yes… you did.” Whispertail considered him extra carefully, leaning in a little as if proximity somehow aided honesty. “Why?” “Did I not cover this before? I’m fighting Marque Malinovsky. My brother in law. Who… has an army. And… production facilities of some kind to equip this army. I’ve got… a hand of people and only now a small contingent of prewar bots to fight back against him with. Back then… I didn’t even know for sure Marque was the threat, or what he had. I just knew… I could fail. So… why not tell someone else what was going on in case I did. Marque and I… Obviously aren’t friends but we’re polite. I promised not to kill his kids, he promised no to kill mine. I still have to ensure he doesn’t win.” Jaeger rambled a little trying to figure out what Whispertail wanted to know. “Why is that exactly? What is his goal? Conquest?” Whispertail asked. “Yes.” Jaeger nodded. “He thinks his organization is the true Void Government and he wants it all back. He sees the Pact as illegitimate and juvenile. He wants… humanity first. Synths above all. And… I don’t know… everyone else slaves or dead. I haven’t exactly gotten a pamphlet detailing all of his mission objectives.” Jaeger shrugged a moment. “So you’d rather we win than he does. Even if you also lose?” As he said that Jaeger began to feel a little worried. “Is that it? Do you need me to lose?” He wasn’t sure what to do about that if Whispertail said yes. “No.” Jaeger relaxed even as the Ravex said that. “What I’m trying to figure out is what you want out of this.” “To… make society better. To help save the Pact.” Whispertail just stared at him, seemingly unconvinced. “Why? Since the end of the war you have lived here in isolation with your children. You are isolated from society. What impact does the Pact have on your life? Why are you invested in helping it?” Whispertail’s words cut into Jaeger for a moment. “Why fight for a society you’re not a part of?” “Because that’s what I did before.” Jaeger could see the confusion in Whispertail’s face. “I grew up on earth. Which was a shitty place to be, and even worse if you were poor. I grew up knowing only a society that revolved around respect. Respect of power in the most bloody simple way people could show it. I can’t tell you how many people I saw get killed over some stupid… bullshit. Some perceived disrespect. Or just not enough respect. All I knew is I had to get out of that shithole. Which meant taking the merc exams and seeing what nation would take me. Which for me meant the Revenant program. They didn’t call it that at first obviously but that’s what it was. All I cared about is that it was Void. Do you know what that meant?” “I suspect I do not know the true extent.” Whispertail replied. Jaeger just waved a hand around the medbay for a moment at some of the tech. “It meant I could get my mom a free ride to the best place in the universe! Everyone talked about how amazing the Void was and I got in. All I had to do was kill for them. So I did. I became a killer for a society I wasn’t really a part of. I only barely ever saw what civilian life was like in the Void. Just a tiny bit of R&R, here and mostly in Funhaven so… far as I knew it was the best place ever! I spent the majority of my time elsewhere. Killing Davari, killing Russian, Americans, Anterans-” “Kids.” Whispertail added. He didn’t seem angry but he was carefully watching Jaeger. “Kids.” He nodded. “Civilians. Politicians. I was being told who to kill by people I knew were smarter than me. They said it was all sad, but necessary. To preserve the Void Way Of Life.” He carefully enunciated each word. “To protect a society I didn’t get to live in. But my mom did. And that’s all I cared about. They said kill, I killed. They said sabotage I sabotaged. They said murder innocent people? I murdered. I gave them my soul. So that once I was done with my time in purgatory… when I’d killed my way to heaven it would all be waiting for me.” Jaeger looked away then, going quiet. “Then the war.” Whispertail continued. “I had been helping the very company I thought was protecting my new home, destroy it instead. Undermined everything I was supposed to love about it. Helped trade freedom for control, democracy for dictatorship, and knowledge for ignorance. But I thought I could still save it. We just had to win the war. So we fought… and fought… And we won the war. My wife’s body was destroyed. I’d lost… most of my friends and comrades… and the society I’d done all that work for? It was dead too.” Jaeger wasn’t looking at Whispertail now. His eyes just stared vacantly at the wall for a while. “So I took my kids and came here and tried to raise them as best I could. But it’s not enough. I buried my head in the sand and assumed…” Jaeger shrugged. “I don’t know. That… it would fix itself. Because I was tired… I had been fighting almost my entire life and suddenly I was in a scenario where… I had to make the decisions. There weren’t any smarter people to just… tell me what to do. I figured… I don’t know. That… they were the most important thing to me. But… by focusing on them I didn’t help out anyone else… So… my kids are good but the rest of society is fucked and I didn’t help. Which sucks! How the fuck could I find the time? Raise my kids well, help everyone, be a productive member of society… The fuck am I supposed to do?” Jaeger felt exhausted just talking about it. “You have a highly advanced compound here at your disposal. Plus what appears to be a small army of also highly advanced robots at your command. You could have dominated the coast. Become a warlord. Possibly seized the planet for your own.” Whispertail mentioned but Jaeger just frowned. “Me? Did I not just explain I’d lost the smart people telling me what to do? Fuck do I know about running a planet? What I should just become some new… scav king. Raise my kids in some… minor fiefdom that would get crushed when the Pact finally got around to it? And what sort of message does that teach them? I made sure the scavs in Columbia stayed in Columbia for a reason. It was the only semi decent thing I could do for everyone north up the coast. Give them time and space to rebuild. I know society still hates synths… but it’s still better than whatever autocratic… oligarchy Marque is planning.” Jaeger wondered for a moment what could have happened if he’d been more active all along. Would it have been worth it? Knowing he’d have had to miss more of the kid’s lives? “What would you have done?” Whispertail seemed to consider this question for a moment and then shrugged. “I do not have children. That is not to say I don’t have biological offspring. I’ve participated in many seasonal heats.” Jaeger wasn’t sure he needed to know that… But the Ravex continued. “Yet, we as a species do not raise our own young. We are raised only by those fit to raise children. In a communal environment. The fact that other species let… just anyone be a parent is… honestly rather appalling. Are you aware of the types of parents that exist?” “Yeah… I’m… pretty aware.” Jaeger nodded slowly. “Madness.” The big xeno shook his head slowly. “Raising children is best left to experts. So, I do not know how you feel. I cannot fully understand it. The only legacy I have is my nation. So in this… I do understand some of your pain. For the first time in centuries the Ravex are not one people under one nation. We are split. This pains me… All the work I had done was also taken from me by radicals and fanatics. I will not live to see a restoration of my people. But I can live to see them survive in some way within the Pact. This is why I have dedicated my life now to its success. This is why I need to know your mind. Are you helping me only because it suits you for now? Or are you in this Jaeger? Are you in this fully and wholly? Not just for your offspring, but all children living within this young nation?” Whispertail approached him then, standing tall as he looked down at Jaeger. “I am with you.” He nodded and reached out to grip the xeno’s forearm, as Whispertail returned the gesture. “Good.” He nodded and released Jaeger’s arm. “I’m going to need you to join Titan.” “What?” Jaeger blinked, not having expected that outcome even remotely. “I need to legitimize your efforts legally. I will, for obvious reasons, leave out your true past. But, your cover identity as an Absolute Dynamics mechanic who was brought up in the emergency reserves during the war makes sense. Both as to why you remained a prospector for so long, and why we need you now.” Whispertail explained as he pulled out a data slate that had some kind of contract on it for Jaeger to read. “Uh… what about… Agent Alvarez? Or Director or whatever his title was?” Jaeger asked as he began to scroll through the document. “Didn’t you have trouble proving his guilt and stuff? What happened with that?” “When it became clear he had directly threatened the life of the daughter of one of the wealthiest individuals within the Pact, as well as spied upon his business things moved much more quickly.” Jaeger arched a brow as he looked back up at Whispertail. What had Lexa’s dad done? “I do not exactly approve of the nature of human politics but this once it was useful to me.” “Did you find any… codes in his things?” Jaeger wasn’t sure what Whispertail new about the codes. “Lexa and her friend Tami have informed me they are for memories. Could you explain?” Whispertail watched him close. “Revenant memories. Supply caches, secret bases, door codes, and obviously evidence of who used to work with them.” It wasn’t all that far off from the truth… “And why are they so valuable to those involved?” Whispertail asked next. “Marque wants them for the supply caches, and codes and more power. Alvarez probably wanted them to help blackmail politicians who escaped the post war purges. I want them because… there’s some small chance my wife’s memories can be saved and I can see her again. I know you guys don’t exactly get married but you do have soul mates right?” Jaeger wasn’t sure if he could appeal to the Ravex’s emotional side but he’d try. “We do. You wouldn’t also be looking for nuclear launch codes would you?” Even as Whispertail asked Jaeger rolled his eyes. “I already have those. I don’t need more. Why do people keep asking me that? We both know irradiated planets don’t do anyone any good.” Even as Jaeger spoke the Ravex nodded. “Very well… The codes will be returned to you. Our experts couldn’t make any sense of them anyway. They keep changing…” Whispertail tapped his chin. “Once you get them all it’s supposed to unlock something.” Jaeger shrugged. “I only half understand it. Even if I get them all I might not be able to get it to work.” That was still entirely true. “Then it is settled.” Whispertail announced and turned to walk out the door. “We must plan our assault immediately.” “Just like that?” Jaeger arched a brow a moment. “You have given me no cause to doubt you thus far. You have shown me only good faith, and while I disagree with your actions I at least understand them. Not all allies are mirror images of one another. Besides we have precious little time. It is essential we defeat him before the Pact Vote.” Whispertail explained as he began walking back towards the hangar. “What vote?” Jaeger asked as he quickly moved to follow. “A convention is being held in Solavis city on how to address the Void remnant that Marque is apparently the leader of. Some would prefer to see us normalize relations and work out some deal in order to secure peace. At the cost of the delicate balance of powers of course. If we show he has been operating in our soil all along to undermine the government then it is unlikely he will achieve this deal. He will be seen as either a hostile nation, or a hostile insurgency. But not the legitimate ruler of the Void. Did you seriously not know any of this?” Whispertail paused to glance back at Jaeger. “No! I told you I had my head in the sand! I barely know what’s going on out there. No one told me!” He waved a hand vaguely around him. “It has been all over the news… Nevermind. Let us end this more simply by defeating him in open combat. I suspect that is where our strengths lie anyway.” Whispertail nodded as they stepped out into the hangar. Ham’s Vantahawk was back, and Jaeger saw him and the others clustered around a display table alongside a familiar Ravex. “First Claw Second Feather Assault Mother Rockdove, nice to see you again.” Jaeger spoke as he approached her, and then his eyes moved past to another bright smiling face even if in a new uniform. “Ah, First Claw Second Feather Shock Commando Twilightbloom, good to see you again as well. Is that your rank?” “Hi Jaeger!” The big xeno ignored the second part of his greeting to press forward and wrap him in a big hug as he gasped and felt his shoulders get partially crushed for a moment until she let go. “Friend Jaeger it is very nice to see you again! I’m remembering things better now!” “That’s good.” He smiled and then rubbed at his left shoulder a moment. “Rockdove, why are you sharing live intel assets with them? I didn’t authorize this.” Whispertail growled out, though in English as if to make a point of berating her in a way Jaeger could understand. “I am sharing intel assets with our allies for the impending assault. You said we were here to secure their support. Are they not our allies?” Rockdove countered. Whispertail glanced sideways a moment as Jaeger. “They are. But I had not declared this fact and you were already sharing this information.” “Then I will accept your inevitable non judicial punishment later.” Rockdove waved it off. “Hey, you guys NJP too? We’re so alike.” Figs said with a big grin. “What are we looking at?” Jaeger asked, ignoring the comment as he focused on a display of a mountain and some sort of fortress within it. “This is the Scissor Mountain complex. I don’t know what they call it.” Ham replied. “This is what we’re going up against. Several anti ship, and anti air batteries here, here, and here. And possibly here.. Several artillery and anti tank bunkers along this approach. C-RAM batteries just… everywhere… Several hangars… And I’m not sure how many barracks.” Jaeger looked across the portions of the map as they lit up. “How did you get this?” If the map was accurate it was going to be a nightmare to assault. “It used to be an Absolute Dynamics complex like we thought. Or… they’d started building it just as the war hit so when I was back at the scrapyard I just did a system ping, found the only network address I didn’t have listed, found a directory, and then downloaded a map. We really really need to find some way to purge the old systems.” Ham shrugged then. “Well shit… Can your cruiser or possibly more than one give it a serious orbital bombardment?” Jaeger asked. “Once they realize his cruiser, or any Pact ships are moving into bombardment position he can knock them out. Or make it a deadly endeavor.” Ham countered. “This is probably why Marque has been so bold lately. He knows we can’t just bomb him without casualties and he’s betting we won’t nuke him. Even if we did it’s a hardened complex. We’d ruin the surface installations and such but we’d still have to root him out.” “Which is where my plan comes in!” Everyone looked over at Brandy-Lynn in surprise as she cast back a manic grin while setting a hand on Kuv’s shoulder. Jaeger frowned at the sight of the Jipasi and glanced at Tanya who noticed his look. “She brought him out of his hiding place before I realized what was going on. Blame her not me.” “I simply needed to confer with our expert here to make sure my plan would work!” She nodded, and then before Jaeger could ask she held up a hand. “No nukes! Totally conventional. Well… actually… completely unconventional but the destructive force is just like… gravity. Well… gravity and explosive stuff. But no nukes! No shards! No earthquakers!” “What’s the plan?” Jaeger finally asked. “I am a woman of secrets! I’m not giving away any info like that!” She huffed and crossed her arms. “You’re not giving away… your plan?” Jaeger sighed heavily and began to rub his face with his hands. “No! I mean… not like the good bits! Listen, does this space station still orbit the planet? The recent battle didn’t mess with it or anything?” She held out a dataslate to Whispertail who squinted at it. “I believe so. No change has been reported in any orbital platforms or debris if that’s what you mean.” He gave Jaeger a look who thought it over. “Did you reactivate one of those old hyper velocity tungsten rod platforms they were working on? Why?” Then he held up a hand a moment later. “Wait no. Let me guess. Because you thought it was cool?” “It is cool. But I made it better! It’s even better now isn’t it Kuv!” She elbowed the Jipasi who gasped a moment at the shove. Though he’d been rather quiet so far. “It’s… I am both terrified and thrilled by the potential. I have professed to being an expert of destruction for so long… and yet somehow I never considered this option. For all my impressive ingenuity I have been outdown. By white trash.” He shook his head slowly, as if actually upset Brandy-Lynn had outdone him somehow. But her grin just grew wider still. “What’s the plan?” Jaeger tried to press. “This will destroy the defenses. If not… shatter the entire complex.” Kuv sighed and gripped his head. “How could I not have foreseen this need! Why did my exemplary Jipasi skills fail me! How could I have prepared so many explosives and yet never considered how to rend a mountain from the face of a planet so righteously!” [Continued in Comments]
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Watch and wager at various teletheatres across the province. Visit www.marquisdowns.com for more information! More complicated OTB bets start with keying and boxing. Learn about off-track betting and how to key in or box bets in this free OTB video from a mutual teller. Expert: Jason Lee Hardin Bio: Jason ... In a daily double, a bettor picks the winner of two consecutive races. Learn about off-track betting and daily double bets in this free OTB video from a mutual teller. Expert: Jason Lee Hardin Bio ... Online horse racing betting - Horse betting site Online horse betting: thoroughbred and harness for horse racing, betting over 75 tracks to select from plus odds for all major horse race betting. If your looking for the best online horse racing betting site for us players then check out bovada. You can check it out above, but its also good for other entertainment as well! Loading...