Category: Video Games

Today’s topic is a little lighter. If you’re looking for a game to try out without hurting your budget, there are many “Free2Play” games out there. Since I am a Blizzard fan, I thought I’d post my thoughts on their free games Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. I’d also like to share some tips and tricks I’ve found to get the most out of the games without spending any real money. First, I’ll cover Hearthstone.

If you don’t know, Hearthstone is an online card game that pits iconic Warcraft characters against each other. You can cast spells and summon minions to reduce your opponent’s health to 0. Winning games earns you in game gold that can be spent on card packs to strengthen your deck. So, I’d like to share my tips for playing Hearthstone for free.

I tried getting into Hearthstone when the game first released, but had some trouble. The main issue was that players that had gotten into the beta had a significant advantage over new players. The beta players had months to earn in game gold and buy card packs, so new players were competing on a completely uneven playing field. This was made worse by the fact that the only way to earn gold was from actually WINNING a game against another player.

I tried again a few months ago, and still found that it was too difficult to compete with players that had been collecting cards since the game’s launch.

This all changed when the new Whispers of the Old Gods expansion came out in April. First, Blizzard decided to give away 3 packs of the new cards to all players that logged in after the launch. Second, All players received the C’Thun legendary card and 2 cards that support it, between the free packs and these cards, any player could build a deck that was capable of winning on some lucky draws. Finally, they also introduced the “Standard” game mode, that only allowed use of the most recent cards, so new players no longer had to worry about cards collected by people who have been playing through every expansion to come out.

My initial attempts for some wins in standard mode did not work out well, I had been using my old decks which really didn’t hold up. So, I instead decided to just scrap my old decks and start from scratch focusing on the new C’Thun related cards. This allowed me to get the 2 wins I needed in standard mode to get 5 more free WotOG packs. The cards in those packs propelled my decks even further and I started to feel like I had a fighting chance in a game I had always gotten crushed in.

Blizzard obviously wants to get you hooked so you’ll pay real money for packs. However, if you want to try playing for free, here are some tips:

1. Complete the Tutorial and play against the AI to level each hero to 10. Doing this will get you a good deal of packs and gold to build your collection.

2. Build a C’Thun Deck. You can do this easily with the free cards you’ve acquired up to this point, this is your best shot at getting wins as a fresh player. Those wins (in Standard mode) will get you more packs and gold to build a more robust deck. I still am using C’Thun in all of my decks because I don’t have any other legendary cards.

3. Play “Ranked” instead of “Casual.” This is completely counter-intuitive, but for some reason, the players in Casual have way better cards than the players you’ll battle in the early ranks of Ranked play. I’m not sure if it’s a match making issue, or if the really high ranked players just hop in Casual for some easy wins.

4. Try the weekly Tavern Brawls. I just found out about this today, but each week you can get a single free pack by winning a Tavern Brawl. These matches are completely different, and in some cases, you may not be at that big of a disadvantage for having a smaller card collection than the other players.

5. When you get 100 gold, save up another 50 and try the Arena Mode instead of simply buying a pack. In the Arena you construct a deck with random cards that you might not even own. There are 2 reasons for this: 1. Your card collection has no affect on the deck you build, so you have a better chance of completing your daily quests. 2. You will always get a card pack at the end, but if you get enough wins (and refer back to the first point here) you will also get some bonus gold and goodies.

Next, I’ll tell you all about my favorite of these 2 free games: Heroes of the Storm!

Gaming can be an expensive hobby, especially with the rise of DLC and expansions. It can be very frustrating to drop money on a game and find that it only holds your interest for a few hours. For this reason, I’ve compiled some of my strategies for getting the most bang for your buck on games.

Free 2 Play

The most obvious strategy is to play free/freemium games. The “Free 2 Play” model has been popping up more and more over the last few years, it isn’t just Facebook games like Candy Crush anymore. MMORPGs and MOBAs have been thriving on this model. These games make their money through micro-transactions. So if you never buy anything, the game stays free. The only thing to keep in mind is that some games have “pay gates” that prevent you from getting the full experience or from being fully competitive without paying.

Competitive Games

Games where you compete against other players (especially online) have great longevity and replay value. You’d be surprised how many people continue to play older versions of Call of Duty or Battlefield. MOBAs, like Heroes of the Storm and DOTA 2, are both competitive and free to play. Personally, I’ve been playing a lot of Heroes of the Storm, watch out for my Zagara!

Long Progress Ladders

RPGs tend to have a lot of content to begin with, but you can stretch that even further by working towards the high end progression goals. Trying to get every character to the level cap, and finding the perfect gear can keep you busy for days. I’ve put over 150 hours into Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate farming better gear. Randomized gear can also make the quest for perfection last longer as well, I have no idea how many hours I’ve put into Diablo 3 thanks to the random loot drops.

Make your own challenges

Another great way to get more out of your games is to replay them with new challenges. For instance, the Nuzlocke challenge in Pokemon adds a new layer of difficulty for a relatively easy game. Speed running, or trying to beat a game as fast as possible, is a way to add a layer of competition to a single player game.

The Golden Ratio

I think that when it comes to your entertainment budget, at least for media, you should aim for getting at least 1 hour of entertainment per dollar spent. So for a $60 game, make sure you get 60 hours of gameplay. For a $8 per month Netflix subscription, 1 full season has you covered.

Hopefully, this advice will save you some money and help you experience your games with a new level of appreciation.

When I first started investing, I would use my experience with video games to try to better understand certain concepts. For example, analyzing statistics and “min-maxing” in RPGs gave me the analytic background to determine which companies would be good investments for my style of dividend growth investing. RPGs taught me how putting the time and effort in could yield greater rewards in the future. Now I’m finding that after a few years of investing in the stock market, my patience and dedication to investing time in video game efforts has increased.

The big games I’m playing these days are Pokemon and Diablo 3. I’ve noticed that lately, I’ve had the mindset of an investor when playing these games.

In Diablo 3, I’m more willing to invest more time into getting specific items, and completing sets than before. In fact, my hardcore characters from Season 1 reached paragon level 290, which is leaps and bounds higher than before. I’m also driven to farming a ring of royal grandeur with great stat rolls, and this season I’m going to put in the effort to get a Hellfire Amulet which requires a massive time investment, after which you may not even end up with a very good item at all.

In Pokemon, I’m working on breeding and training competitive level pokemon, in fact all of the pokemon in the OU metgame according to Smogon. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, you’re just not as big of a nerd as I am. What it means is that my bus rides for the past 2 weeks have been dedicated to this effort. But putting in the time now means I’ll have these battle ready pokemon forever.

I’m also much more stingy with what games I’ll buy. I used to take chances on new games, but now I’m only getting games I know I’ll get at least 40 hours of entertainment out of. How about you, how has gaming affected your investing or vice versa?

I’ve learned new aspects about my risk tolerance by playing perma-death games recently. In most games, when your character dies, it’s only a minor setback. Usually, you lose a little bit of progress and carry on as if nothing happened. In games with permanent death (or perma-death), your character doesn’t respawn, and you have to live with that loss. These mechanics make you play differently since every choice carries much more weight, and as you play, you’ll find you’re much more emotionally invested.

Right now, I am playing a hardcore Diablo 3 character with my wife. This means that each of our characters has the potential to be gone forever if things go south. We had done this once before and got to about level 22 before my wife’s character died in a fight we weren’t expecting. My wife was very sad, and I found myself feeling almost nihilist futility while finishing the fight. Our recent characters are at the maximum level and are tackling much greater challenges.

Because of that previous experience, we’re playing much more conservatively this time. Additionally, I am playing much more defensively to keep her alive, probably more so than I would while playing solo.

The interesting thing is that I can see direct parallels to this in the way I approach our investments. In my personal account, I’m willing to take greater risks and trade on margin in hopes of bigger wins, but in our joint account, I invest very conservatively in blue chip dividend growth stocks.

I’m also currently playing Pokemon on the 3DS with self-imposed rules from the Nuzlocke challenge, which basically applies perma-death rules to Pokemon who faint in battle. One special rule here is that you have to give nicknames to each Pokemon so that if they fall you feel a deeper loss. In this case, I still find myself playing much more defensively and conservatively than I would without those rules.

Instead of getting all “YOLO” here, I’d like you to think about this: At any moment, you could lose all of your money. It sounds pretty unlikely, especially if you’re diversified, but bad decisions can balloon to the point where the consequences are much greater than you planned for. Sure, we can comfort ourselves by saying “you can always make that dollar back,” but it won’t be the same dollar. You can only lose a specific dollar bill once.

The risk tolerance I’ve seen in my perma-death gaming is much lower than has been exhibited in my recent trading. I think everyone should try games like these to learn more about their own psychology and risk tolerance.

I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls lately. One feature that helps you collect better items for your character is being able to change the difficulty. The game boils down to killing monsters so that they’ll drop items for you to use to better kill more monsters. By increasing the difficulty from “normal” to “hard” (and ultimately “Torment”), the monsters become much more difficult to kill, but they also are more likely to drop high quality items.

I can’t help but see the parallels to investing part of your income. “How?” you ask? Let me explain.

Sadly, your day job probably doesn’t involve killing demons (or luckily, depending on how you see it). However, you do have monthly challenges to overcome: bills. Every month, you need to use your hard earned cash to pay for life’s comforts: food, shelter, transportation, and fun. On the easiest difficulty setting, you spend all of your extra money on fun after the other 3 more important categories. This doesn’t get you any closer to financial independence or retirement, but it’s a lot easier to enjoy that instant gratification. If you instead save some of that extra money and invest, life in the short-term is more difficult to enjoy, but you’ll reap long-term rewards.

The best items in Diablo 3 are called “Legendary” items. As you increase the difficulty, these are more likely to drop. However, it can still take a fair amount of playtime in that harsher difficulty before you see your reward.

Your difficulty setting is basically how much of your income you choose to save. If you can save 5% of your paychecks each month, life shouldn’t be too much more difficult, and you’ll be investing toward a stronger financial future. However, if you can save 50% of your paycheck, things get a lot harder, but you’re going to be working toward that “Epic Win” at a much faster rate.

Let me create a scale based on Diablo 3 difficulties to give you an idea.

Normal – 5% saved
Hard – 15% saved
Expert – 20% saved
Master – 30% saved
Torment 1 – 40% saved
Torment 2 – 50% saved
Torment 3 – 55% saved
Torment 4 – 60% saved
Torment 5 – 65% saved
Torment 6 – 70%+ saved

Just like in Diablo 3, it’s about finding the difficulty setting that is the most rewarding while still being comfortable. If you’re dying too much in Torment 3, then maybe it’s best drop it down to Torment 2. Similarly, if you’re getting too unhappy saving 40% of your income and wish you could spend some of that money on movie tickets or video games, maybe you’d be better off aiming to save 30% and treating yourself to some fun right now. Just remember, by reaching for that long-term gratification, you’ll be thanking yourself later in life.

The good news is that it gets easier the longer you play. As you get better items in Diablo 3, you may find that you’re capable of taking on the next difficulty level. When it comes to investing, each dividend stock you buy increases your income, so after a few months of saving 30% of your income, you might start making enough to keep the same standard of living while saving 40% of your income.

Right now, I’m probably closer to Master difficulty than Torment 1, but by the end of the year, I’m hoping to be able to reach that 40% savings rate.

How about you, what difficulty setting are you taking on in investing?

Time is both a blessing and a curse to the value investor.

As investors, the end goal of investing is almost always to have our investments pay out more than we need to spend. We achieve this by saving large portions of our income and investing it into dividend paying stocks (or at least that’s how I do it). Time is the most powerful force we rely on for growing our capital. Today, a $1000 position is probably only going to pay back $35 each year. However, after 10 years, given average dividend growth and reinvestment, that initial investment will be paying out something more like $80 each year.

We invest as a way to buy time in our future, time that does not need to be spent working for someone else. In a way, it’s a trade of time now, for time later.

The problem here is where many new investors lose focus. When you’re working toward delayed gratification, time can feel like it’s moving very slowly. This is a big problem I face personally.

It can easily feel like every day just drags as we try to make it to tomorrow. It’s what the naysayers of early retirement usually refer to in their arguments. That you’re not enjoying your life to the fullest while you’re young.

The difficult balance of life is that you should try to live like there’s no tomorrow while still planning for many tomorrows.

Even though I’m trying to live frugally, there’s no reason I can’t enjoy each day. Basically I’m saying You don’t need to spend money to enjoy your time, you need a hobby.

So, every 30 days, I’m going to pick an activity that I will try to do for 30 days to try and spice up my day to day life. 30 days is enough time to determine if an activity is a chore (like giving up sugar) or a hobby (like taking a picture every day). I’m calling this my 30 day challenge.

For my first 30 day challenge, I’m going to compete in an official rated competitive Pokemon match every day for 30 days.

Yeah, I realize that’s probably not what you expected from a 28 year old man that has a blog about investing. But I spent an ungodly amount of time training probably over 20 Pokemon for competitive battles, and have barely used them at all. So it’s time to reap those rewards.

I’ll probably get stomped pretty hard getting started, but I bet by the end, I’ll be a Pokemon badass.

If there is such a thing.

How about you? What do you want to do for the next 30 days to spice up your day to day life?

Let me know in the comments, and show some love by giving a like, +1, or share.

Today we’re going to examine 2 fantasy characters and how they get by in the world. The rich mage, and the poor warrior approach life in very different ways and see different results.

Both the Warrior and the Mage started with nothing but the clothes on their back. They both had to get started by taking any quest they could that a trained monkey could probably do: Simple Delivery Quests, Killing Boars, etc. With the money and experience they gained from these quests they took different paths.

The Warrior bought gear, because to his peers, he was only as good as the gear he had. The Mage ignored his peers, and focused on boosting his intelligence by studying and learning new skills. The Warrior, using his new weapons and armor, accepted more challenging quests. The Mage used his intelligence and skills to complete quests that the quest givers could not just assign to any character. As the Warrior and Mage advanced, they earned even more money and experience.

The Warrior had a reputation to keep up, and thus spent all of his extra money on gear and prestigious mounts. The Mage bought a basic horse to get around town, and kept the money. The Warrior, had all the gear he needed and then some, but every time he completed a quest, he would spend the money he earned on more gear that was slightly better than what he had before. The Mage used his money to buy undervalued items and sell them for a profit.

A raid was being organized to take on a mighty dragon. The Mage was recruited first because his skills and intelligence proved he was a valuable team member to have on the raid. The Warrior faced much competition for his spot, and was one of the last raid members to be recruited. After the raid, as usual, the Warrior bought new gear to show off his accomplishments. The Mage had now amassed so much wealth that he could hire parties that already had established themselves to clear dungeons and return a portion of the loot back to him.

Today the Warrior is still taking an quest he can get to try to keep up his reputation as one of the best geared warriors in the realm. Meanwhile the Mage is enjoying his free time while his wise choices from before pay for his lifestyle.

Can you see how the choices made by these 2 characters could be applicable to the real world? Which class have you been in your professional life? The Warrior has all of the cool stuff, but will have to work until the day he dies. The Mage saved the money he otherwise would have spent on the same stuff, and invested in his future. Do you value things or time more? Are you just doing work that anyone could do, or are you learning skills that few other people have?

I expect you’re probably wondering how dividend stock investing has anything to do with video games. I am a gamer, but I also have bills to pay. It can be difficult to rationalize spending money on games when money is tight, especially if you’re saving money. I propose that you save the money you can now, so that your investments buy the video games for you later. So how does dividend investment benefit gamers?

Automate Your Gaming Costs

I have a history with MMORPGs, specifically World of Warcraft. This means every month, I need to pay a subscription fee if I want to play. In the past, this would mean that if I couldn’t justify the cost, I wouldn’t play. Dividend Stocks pay a set amount of money on a regular schedule, which can make them ideal for reliably covering the costs of your subscriptions. Additionally, any increase in value to the share price is adding to your savings. For instance, to cover a $14 per month subscription, you would need 55 Shares of McDonald’s (MCD) paying out a little over $42 every quarter. If subscription based games aren’t your thing, 78 shares of McDonald’s makes your quarterly dividend over $60, which pays for a brand new console game. These examples may seem like large investments, but once you start saving you’ll be surprised how quickly your wealth builds up. Additionally, these dividends essentially allow you to keep your hobby covered without breaking your budget.

Free Time to Work Less And Play More

The last example was more of a Level 1 Investor example. Once you’ve been saving and investing for a long time, your dividends can replace part of your income (or all in the case of retirment). What this means is that you can afford to have more time to yourself to game. Time is the most valuable resource any of us have. Maybe video games aren’t your dream and you’d rather travel, read, or enjoy your time in your own way. When your dividends are covering your costs of living, you have the freedom to use your time however you see fit.

Taking Back Control

One of the most appealing aspects of a video game is the sense of agency. In the real world it feels like we have no control, our lives are governed by bosses and/or clients. Video games put you back in control, and you are the master of your destiny. You may not be able to control how the market values shares of a stock, but you can choose where you want to invest your money. If you don’t want to buy shares of Johnson and Johnson (JNJ), you don’t have to. If you’d rather roll the dice on a riskier higher yield dividend stock, that’s your choice, just make sure you do your research. I take a lot of pleasure in picking stocks each month, because I’m in complete control of where that money goes.

Time is money, and dividends create time. What hobbies or games would you pay for with your dividends? Or would you just reinvest them to grow your wealth?

Let me know in the comments!

You’ve got your 5 stacks of Nephelem Valor, you run down the Tower of the Damned and spot a pack of Elite Phase Beasts. Their affixes are Vortex, Frozen, Damage Reflection, and Molten. “No Problem,” you think to yourself, “With my gear, this will be cake.” Sure enough, you beat them and collect the loot and gold. Combined with your current stash, this new chunk of change means you can afford some new pants, so you’ll be able to farm faster and make more gold. Additionally, you can make back some gold by selling your current pants.

This scenario is really not that different from dividend stock investing. You’ve been working to make money, and once you’ve saved up enough, you can put it to use to increase your capability to earn more money buy purchasing shares of a good quality dividend stock. That’s what’s great about dividend stock investing, you’re always moving forward and increasing your means. Also, just like your old pants in Diablo 3, if the stock isn’t performing, you can sell it and get a new one.

The Good Gear Deserves Good Gems

However, unlike Diablo 3, when your dividend stock is sending you money each month or quarter (and the returns are good because you did your research), you can take the extra money you’ve saved and buy more of that stock, further increasing its output. If you could just feed your pants more gold in Diablo 3 and their stats would increase, you’d never need a new pair of pants! The closest you can get to that freedom in Diablo 3 is adding expensive gems, or if Blizzard ever adds enchanting. I can tell you from experience, it feels great to know that your dividend stock is performing well, and being able to invest further in it is an epic victory.

Dividend income is completely passive. While you’d have to use your pants and other gear in Diablo 3 to earn more gold, your dividend stocks are earning you money without you even doing anything.

Scan The Auction House

auctionhouseIn Diablo 3, you wouldn’t just buy any item on the auction house and assume it’s going to make your character down elites/champions faster. You would make sure it had good resistances, your primary stat (in my case Intelligence for my Wizard), attack speed, critical hit chance, etc. It’s no different for stocks. You need to know which statistics to focus on so your stock performs well enough to be worth your gold, -ehrm money. Make sure the stock has a P/E Ratio under 20, a decent dividend yield, a healthy payout ratio, and has increased their dividend consistently for the past several years.

What other similarities do you see between Diablo 3 and investing? If you’ve haven’t played Diablo 3, maybe there’s another RPG you can draw similarities to.

Let me know in the comments!