For the endorphins

Thanny is the new Uber

I haven’t always been a gamer, though I’ve always been an extremely active person.  From childhood I wasn’t someone to sit still for very long, playing various sports and hiking for miles virtually daily.  I grew up in a time where it wasn’t unusual — and dare I say, was actually expected — for children to be outside and playing with friends all day.  And when I wasn’t playing something non-competitive I was usually playing some sport.  I excelled in the competition of sports, and looking back at it now, I can understand why that extends into other avenues of my life.  Gaming, not excluded.

But my mother made sure I didn’t entirely focus on physical activity.  I remember one miserable summer when I was 6 or 7 where I was kept inside and was forced to spend a few hours in the living room daily reading aloud with her.  She made me sound out words I didn’t know how to pronounce and mercilessly ignored my poutiness.  I hated every single minute of it, but of course I understood later in life what she was doing and why.  Quite honestly I grew to be forever grateful she cared enough to endure that summer along with me.

One can’t be physically active all day, every day, all year long.  So I filled the voids in physical activity most especially in my teenage years and early adulthood with reading.  It became an important part of my life, and I’d disappear into the worlds amongst the pages of whatever I was reading.  But I didn’t discover the the worlds that would impact me the most for a few more years.  It was in 7th grade when I discovered Tolkien’s works.  First the Hobbit, then his Magnum Opus, Lord of the Rings.  And lastly the Silmarillion, which for me was the cherry on top of it all.  These works, and those of Frank Herbert, which I first read many years after are without a doubt the books that had the most profound impact on my life.  Though Tolkien and Herbert were certainly not alone as authors to impact me in some way.  Asimov, Piers Anthony, Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard, and so many others molded me into the person I am today. 

I’ve become more sedentary as I’ve grown older, but my mind’s need for activity hasn’t decreased in the least.  I’m no where near the voracious reader I was in my earlier years but this is where gaming comes in.  I grew to love reading because I was imaginative and could visualize what I was reading.  I could immerse myself.  Gaming is a step up from that, as there’s no need to visualize something you can actually see and experience.  You’re not living vicariously, but are experiencing it “personally”.  Gaming was a higher, high so to speak.  One that I simply can’t get enough of.  My dream is still to experience a real, full, virtual reality setting so if you all could make that happen for me, it would be greatly appreciated.

So now that I’ve laid the canvas for you, you can understand some of the context when I say the best “drug” out there for gamers like me are sandboxes. The type of gaming environment where the sky is almost the limit; where the excitement, impact, and player agency attain its highest level.  Unfortunately so few sandbox games are truly any good.  Despite many issues I would love to discuss with regard to EVE Online, I have to give the game its due.  Its the single greatest endorphin pumping experience I’ve ever played.  A developer can never come close to producing the kind of content that thousands of players are capable of producing themselves.  And if CCP has done anything with EVE, its created an atmosphere and systems that excel at letting players exercise the mini-Sun Tzu, or mini-Machiavelli they all seemingly want to be.  The meta-game is as important as the spaceships, lasers, machine guns, and missiles.  And in some respects, it’s even more important, as the engine that drives virtually everything else within the walls of the sandbox.

The latest example of this is what has just befallen an Alliance called Hard Knocks, in a wormhole no one from outside of EVE would ever know anything about.  Over the last couple of weeks a massively entertaining battle in Wormhole J115405 (AKA “RAGE”) has been underway between the Imperium (a massive alliance of corporations) and Hard Knocks (a much smaller alliance, though a titan amongst wormholers).  If the rumors are true, the Imperium had been planning the engagement for a very long time, and had started pre-positioning equipment a year ago.  When the fight erupted it involved more than 1000 players, but many who don’t play EVE won’t understand the logistical nightmare that must have been.  Suffice it to say, if preparations for this invasion began a year ago, then it took a year to pull all the right strings for this to happen.  Imagine that, playing World of Warcraft?  In as much as managing a 20 man Mythic raid team takes skill and endurance, imagine what it must take to manage a 500-700 person attack force, through a multi-layer wormhole system which mechanics are adverse to the movement of large numbers of personnel, or size of ships.  And which required a year to plan and pull off.

I salute the Imperium for what they accomplished.  Which is to say, they defeated Hard Knocks and cracked open Fort Knocks.  There’s still some mop up going on, but the war is all but over by this point.  Whether you think this is just more of the blob or strategic and tactical genius, you can’t deny rolling that kind of gear up into a major wormhole system is extremely hard.  

You don’t see this kind of action, on this scale, anywhere else but EVE.  And I eat it up like honey.  Its the reason why I keep coming back to EVE.  Of all the games I’ve ever played in the MMO space, only the World of Warcraft and EVE Online have held my attention and have kept me playing or coming back.  All the other MMO’s I’ve ever played, I either played and abandoned within a couple weeks or have bounced back a couple times over the years but have completely or virtually abandoned since.

If I love EVE so much, why have I repeatedly stopped playing over the years?  My problem with EVE is that its me, not EVE.  I’m not the most social person.  Never have been and my proclivity to solitude has only increased with age.  I’m not anti-social per se, I just like to be social when I like to be social and the rest of the time not.  But Sandboxes rely on social activity and I’ve had real issues finding the right place for me in EVE in the past.  EVE also has a high learning curve, made all the higher when you keep leaving like I have and come back to find many things in the game completely different from what I remember.  I’ve played on and off for 10 years but still feel like a “new bro” in many respects.

Back in 2010 when I was last playing heavily, I thought I found a good corporation, and since it was in Nullsec it seemingly offered everything I wanted.  But my corporation didn’t stay very active for long after I joined and our Alliance wasn’t doing so good either.  I eventually dropped out and headed back to Hisec without a corporation, leading to just one of the several times I stopped playing.  Finding an active corporation, or group — the right corporation, or group — is so important in EVE.  A lot of time you find great people in a small corporation that isn’t very active, and you find yourself without the support you need.  Or maybe the corporation isn’t as active as you’d like, leaving you playing solo a good part of the time.  Solo play in EVE can be fun, but EVE isn’t the sort of game where you do that for long.  You need support, and since I crave the war (and glory) our in Nullsec anyway, that’s where I’m going to try heading back to in the coming weeks.

Like I said in my last post, I’m officially back to playing EVE.  But it won’t be the only thing I do.  One of the issues I also had in previous stints was that I only played EVE.  This time around I’m not.  I’m going to split time with WoW, so I expect to remain pretty busy regardless of which game I happen to be playing at the specific moment.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Alliance and my Night Elf Druid.  But if you want something a little deeper than the Battle for Azeroth, you should take a loot at EVE Online.  You never know if you’ll like it, unless you try it.

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EVE Online Update

I really want to drop bombs on someone

Since my last update, I did make a point of logging in and being more active.  Thankfully I’ve been able to find time to get in several hours of ratting over the last several days, including a couple hours today.  I’ve been looking forward to getting back to that, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed.  Sadly, I’m still spending more ISK than I’m making, but I do expect to turn that around here soon.

I’d also mentioned previously I hoped to get involved with Bombers Bar again, though I just haven’t had that kind of time.  Maybe after the holidays I’ll see what I can do.  But for now my time in EVE will be invested in Ratting, exploring, and the odd bit of mining.  Also, I’m still consolidating things.  My primary goal in playing EVE — and I am officially playing again and splitting time with WoW (more on this later) is to find a good, healthy, corporation out in Nullsec, and move out there to take part in the fun again.  It’s been several years and the excitement of engaging in fleet battles again is growing in me by the day.

In the past I had several accounts active, but for now I think I’ll be sticking with three.  And I’ve had those accounts active for the last month.  As a matter of fact two of those accounts renew their subscriptions tomorrow, while the third renews next week.  And instead of renewing month-to-month, I’ve already gone ahead and renewed for an entire year on the first two accounts, and will do the same for the third next week.  So I’m locked in.  As I said, I’m officially playing again, but more on it later.

So a couple things continue to strike me as odd.  I mentioned last week how dead I thought Oursulaert.  It was never a major market hub, though it was certainly an extremely busy secondary market hub in years past.  But now it feels all but deserted and I’m not sure why.  I haven’t been out to Amarr or Minmatar space to see how things feel out there, but I’m wondering if its that there really aren’t that many wars going on at the moment or something else.

The second thing that has really struck me is the dramatic change in meta since I last seriously played.  Big blingy ships for ratting and mission running are apparently out, and smaller, drone boats are in.  And what did CCP do to my Tengu?  I was looking at it this morning and none of my old fits work any longer.  Looks like there was a pretty serious balancing with the Tengu (and other Strategic Cruisers??) at some point in the past and now few people are running those for missions.  I’ve been trying to sell one on contract at a major mission hub in Caldari space 3 weeks, but thus far there hasn’t been a single nibble.  I recall a couple years ago when I last played I sold off a spare Loki in contracts, which took all of a week.  Tengus used to sell like hot cakes and here I have a blingy spare up on contracts for 3 weeks gathering dust?

I admit, it makes a lot of sense to run around in a VNI which costs less than a tenth of what a good Tengu mission runner would cost.  But VNI just feels so less satisfying at the end of the day.  I love the action of launching missiles, but with my VNI I get to watch my drones plink ships while I orbit something.  Maybe its an acquired taste that I just haven’t acquired yet?  I’ll do it, but no one said I have to like it!

Stellaris is complicated

My first Stellaris campaign — 4 hours into game play

Back in the day when I liked to play single player games, and did so predominately, I tended to play RTS and RPG games more than anything else. RTS games were perhaps my favorite, eeking out a bit more favorability with me than RPGs.  But quite honestly, none of the RTS games I was familiar with in the 2000-2005 era were very deep, offering somewhat simplistic and easily understandable power progression systems.

Maybe the odd RTS offered a bit more complexity than its competitors, but in all the years I played RTs’s I never once felt out of my depth in understanding of what I needed to do within the game, and certainly never once felt I needed to hit up youtube to watch video tutorials before playing again.  Yet that is precisely what I feel I need to do before playing Stellaris again.  Six hours into playing Stellaris and although I feel I’ve emerged from the chrysalis of a complete game novice, I still feel like I’m playing with a thick cloud of fog surrounding me.

While I love the complexity and richness of Stallaris, the game woefully lacks any real semblance of a tutorial system.  It guides you through some basic nuances of the game but that’s about it.  You’re largely left on your own to figure out a game that by many accounts, offers “hundreds of hours” of game play.  If there was ever a game where a tutorial campaign was desperately needed, Stellaris is probably it.

So what is Stellaris?  Its a massive RTS game set in space, in which players are afforded multiple distinct paths to success.  As a player you can “conquer” the galaxy through diplomacy, trade, or warfare depending on your specific set of goals, which equates to a tremendous replay value to the game.  There are a number of variables you can also tinker with to make the specific game play easier, or difficult; and there are a number of different races, along with their own sets of variables to choose from as well.  Some races offer tremendous advantages over others in certain respects, so there is an awful lot of consider before you get started.  Again, another instance of where the game fails to help you understand which decisions you need to make, why, and which decisions matter less than others.

I wish I could say I know more about what the game offers, long term, but as I said, I’m six hours into it and feel only slightly more knowledgeable than when I started.  At this point in my play, the important elements are building up my resources, producing units and buildings/stations, and performing research in order to develop new and useful technologies which ultimately feed back into my production.

Sounds like every RTS game you’ve ever played, right?  But resource gathering is slightly more complex in Stellaris than in any other RTS I’ve ever seen.  While there are certainly the mundane resource stockpiles available where you simply build an appropriate gathering station to develop those resources, but on the planets you’ve settled, you can also tweak resource production somewhat.  You aren’t entirely locked into the game deciding for you how many resources are available to you as a finite number.  Rather, you’re afforded some agency to produce more, or less, of different types of resources depending on your need.

But its not quite that simple either, because in addition to the resources themselves, you have a workforce you have to keep happy too.  You also have to manage favorability rating, unemployment, housing, amenities, ecological impediments, and a range of other variables that impact resource production.  All while expanding throughout the galaxy, and eventually encountering other alien empires.  Some of which may not be as tolerant, or peaceful as you may be playing.

Whether you set out to play a a trade, diplomatic, or conquest based game, you’ll expand across the galaxy by taking possession of systems.  Some of which will have habitable planets you can settle, while the rest will become sources of resources and technology.  You can imagine, in a galaxy with up to 1000 systems, the prospect of producing resources, units, and managing work forces across a number of worlds becomes more and more complicated over time.

I’m definitely not giving up on the game, but feel I need to watch some videos before dipping my toes back into it again.  This, instead of playing the game I spent $32 on off Steam yesterday.  Not quite the experience I was expecting Paradox Interactive….

My first swing at EVE Online Anomalies

evil pirate NPC getting what he deserves

I woke up yesterday looking forward to a day of running anomalies (ratting) but first had to do some prep which took longer than I had anticipated.  Foremost was that I didn’t have an appropriate ship anywhere near the systems I intended to rat in, so ended up buying and fitting out three ratting ships, and two salvaging ships, then ferrying them to where I needed them.  More on the ships later, but suffice to say it took a little while to get all this done since my corp is under a Wardec by a large alliance that is apparently very aggressive about wardeccing smaller corporations.

Despite the inconvenience and extra care I had to take moving ships around, I ran a number of anomalies in .5 (hi sec) and .4 (low sec) space.  I knew going into this I wasn’t going to get rich running anomalies in hi sec space but I was surprised at how low the overall payout on bounties was.  I know it’s been a number of years since I last ratted, but I think I recall bringing more in on hi sec anomalies in years past.  Whether my recollection is accurate, or not, hi sec anomalies are seemingly worth running now only as a last resort.  You can make a lot more ISK running missions, instead.  

I woke up yesterday looking forward to a day of running anomalies (ratting) but first had to do some prep which took longer than I had anticipated.  Foremost was that I didn’t have an appropriate ship anywhere near the systems I intended to rat in, so ended up buying and fitting out three ratting ships, and two salvaging ships, then ferrying them to where I needed them.  More on the ships later, but suffice to say it took a little while to get all this done since my corp is under a Wardec by a large alliance that is apparently very aggressive about wardeccing smaller corporations.

Even more surprising, however, was how low the bounty payouts were in low sec.  The system I was doing them in was only .4, but I truly expected higher payouts.  Averaging 5-7 Million ISK per hour in bounties is pretty low in my opinion.  It wasn’t an issue with me having problems with doing anomalies slowly (although I did have an issue with one of them), it was that I was doing them all and left the system empty.  Not sure what the re-spawn timer is on anomalies, but even if I had wanted to I couldn’t have continued because there simply weren’t any more to be done without moving to other systems.  And since I also wanted to salvage it was just too much of a pain to move ships.  Clearly I need to figure some things out so I can do a more efficient job at ratting in order to up my average ISK per hour.  Whether that means pre-positioning ships in more sectors, or what-not, it’s something I’ll look at more closely in the coming days.

Of note, I didn’t mention the level of sites I was seeing.  Which has a large impact on ISK per hour.  I won’t bother touching on hi sec anomalies, but in low sec I was seeing 4-5 most often, with some 6’s and the occasional 7 peppered in.  Up through the 6’s I was getting up to about 1.5-1.7 mil per tick, and I was doing 3 sites back to back before then going back out to salvage.  But I found I’m not ready for 7’s or up yet.  You may have noted I mentioned earlier than I purchased three ratting ships, but only two salvagers.  If you did, very astute of you, but let me just say that I bought the other two after I found out I couldn’t really handle a 7 and lost my ship.  There were several reasons why I lost my ship, but the biggest one was that I simply didn’t warp out in enough time.  I had ample time to do so but chose to push through and it ended up costing me.  Lesson learned.  That and the fact that I’m flying a ship without having fully trained tank skills and had no repper in my fit.  I was counting on speed buffer tanking and also mistakenly warped in at 0, though I was supposed to warp in at 20.  As I said, lesson learned.

So while it may technically be possible to earn more than I am, until I finish my current skill plan I have to limit myself to 6’s and I also may need to change my fit when doing higher level anomalies.  Doesn’t change my opinion, or my surprise, that the anomalies I was running were paying less than I expected.  Be that is as it may, I know Null sec is where the best anomalies are at and it’ll be a while before I move back out there.

Up to this point in my character’s life, I’ve focused on Caldari missile ships, and shield skills.  For the aspect of my training which I’ve devoted to combat related skills.  And while I’ve found Caldari ships to work great for me in the past, I’m now using the Vexor Navy Issue (VNI) to do my ratting in.  VNI’s are much cheaper than the Raven Navy Issue (RNI or CNR) I’ve flown in years past so the return on investment is infinitely better.  And the VNI has several additional advantages, not the least of which is agility which affords me some peace of mind.  There’s also the advantage that I don’t have to continuously buy ammunition.  I’ve bought stacks of light, medium, and heavy drones, which will last me a long, long time (if not forever, as long as I’m careful).

Long story short, even if I increase my efficiency somewhat, and let us assume for the sake of argument I can earn 10 mil ISK per hour ratting, it’ll take me a LONG time to earn the billions of ISK I was hoping to earn in the next few months.  100 hours of game time per billion ISK, minus the value of whatever salvage I end up selling?  At the amount I’m playing, which is a couple hours a day on average, it would take me forever to make 1 billion ISK, let alone the 10 billion ISK goal I’ve set for myself.

It’s the time of year for miracles, but some things are just a bridge too far.

EVE Online update

Things have been somewhat slow in EVE for me this last week or so.  I did a little mining, but haven’t had a chance to do any roaming or ratting yet.  I do hope to have some time to do something in EVE this week though.  Actually looking forward to it, not only to be more active but also to start earning some ISK.  While mining is okay, it’s not something I enjoy much.  I’m willing to do it for short periods of time, but I’d much rather be pew pewing.  And as it happens, pew pewing is an excellent way to earn ISK.  Win win!

But ratting isn’t the only thing I hope to be doing by this weekend.  I’m really interested in getting involved with Bombers Bar again, and I also found out yesterday one of my corp mates is an FC for one of the other large roaming groups.  I’ll definitely be hitting him up for some invites soon too.

Outside of that my characters have been sitting in stations for most of the last week training.  I have three accounts active at the moment, though there are two characters training on one of the accounts.  I had transferred that second character from its own account some time ago but will end up transferring it back this month. If you’re paying for a subscription with cash, instead of ISK, It’s actually cheaper to keep two accounts active than have multiple character training active on a single account. Tell me that makes sense….

I want to keep two of my accounts active, but whether I keep more than that is something I’ll have to consider more.  Long term I want to take both of main characters back out into Null Sec, and those would be the accounts I’d definitely keep active.  But I’d also had industrial aspirations.  I simply lackthe ISK to do what I want to do with that now. As I get back into the pew pew side of things I may decide to shelve those industrial plans, in which case I probably wouldn’t keep those two accounts active.  Like I said, it’s something I need to consider more.

While there’s always some level of activity going on in EVE,it sure does seem more placid than I recall in the past.  Are there any major wars going on at this time?  If there are, you’d never know it out in hisec.  In the past you may not have had specific details, but you knew something big was going on because the market was moving fast.  You’d never have any problem selling minerals, but many of the minerals I’ve carted to Jita have been up for a week and still haven’t sold. I’ve even stopped adjusting price and will just let them sit there until their market time runs out.  The marketi n Ours looks all but dead.  Even in the past, Ours was never one of the larger markets in Eve, but it feels like a cemetery these days.  Haven’t made it out to Dod or Amarr yet to get a feel for those markets yet.

There isn’t even much ganking going on as far as I can tell. At least not to the extent I remember there being.  Ganking miners in hisec was a pretty big thing a few years back and everyone was talking about it.  But I haven’t heard a peep, nor seen anything to lead me to believe it’s much of an issue these days.

Every time I log in I take note of the number of “captains”logged into EVE.  Normally it fluctuates between 21k and 31k but seems pretty solid. I don’t think this number denotes the number of players, so much as the number of accounts logged in.  So I’m also wondering if my perceived lower level of activity is related to some decline in players over the years?

Whether my perception is real or imagined, I’m enjoying playing EVE again, and probably will be for some time.  Stay tuned for more exciting (or not) updates in the future!

Blizzard misses opportunity for player agency

**Warning – there are some slight spoilers ahead and if you don’t wish to see them you might want to turn back now**

One of the features many in the WoW player community had consistently asked for since Vanilla was similar personal content to the epic Hunter bow (Rhok’delar), and epic Priest staff (Benediction) quest chains.  Paladins and Warlocks also had very interesting epic mount quest chains.  Not every class had such a quest chain in Vanilla but those classes that did served as examples of the type of content many in the community wanted for their classes for nearly the next decade.

I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever see personal character content again in WoW, but then along came Legion, which not only featured the Artifact weapon system for each spec, but also had class based quest chains.  Blizzard delivered on the dreams of many, but so far exceeded expectations that I, and many others, thought the Legion systems would serve as molds for future expacs. Suffice to say they didn’t, and here we are in BFA with a mostly generic expac story-arc again, that has little to do with individual players and characters.

With the sole exception of Horde players, that will apparently get to “choose” whom to support in the upcoming 8.1 patch.  In the end, the choice won’t amount to as much as players might want, as all Horde players still have to end up at the same point later on in the story.  But at least the “choice” gives some agency to players.

It’s too bad the Alliance side isn’t being given the same agency, because there’s certainly opportunity for it to have been added.  In patch 8.1 Tyrande comes to Stormwind to demand support from the Alliance, rightfully pointing out that the Night Elves have never failed to support it when called upon.  With the destruction of Teldrassil and continuing incursions in Darkshore by the Horde, Tyrande wants vengeance.  Although Anduin’s refusal of support is sound and eminently reasonable, Tyrande is in no mood for anything but action.  We all know by now what comes next – Tyrande becomes the Night Warrior.  But if you haven’t played on the PTR, or watched any of the PTR game play you may not know that Genn sides with Tyrande and will lead the Gilneans in support of the Night Elves.

It’s this interesting plot twist that could have served as the Alliance side character flavor, giving similar agency to Alliance players as the Horde gets.  It’s a lost opportunity for players in a story arc that thus far has swept us along, headfirst.  What if, instead of remaining in lock step with Anduin, Alliance characters were to choose at that moment to side with Genn and Tyrande, rushing to Darkshore to confront the Horde?  We’ll get there regardless, but the point is what we as players got a taste of in Legion, is wholly lacking in BFA.  And instead of using opportunities in the expac story arc to allow players to branch out into some character development, we’re instead trapped within a story and beholden to choices we may not support.

Like the Horde players who’ve had very visceral and palpable reactions to Sylvanas’s actions, why isn’t it expected that there are many Alliance players who would have the same reactions; that aren’t willing to sit by while the Horde continue to rampage across Darkshore?  Alliance players who would choose to immediately support the Night Elves don’t necessarily have to have misgivings about Anduin’s leadership per se, but may not be able to stand idle while their friends, and allies are being killed. Although it could be interesting to see schisms develop within theAlliance as well, with some thinking Anduin too passive after his father’s strong leadership.

While the Horde story is obviously more complex, given that a third faction certainly appears to be developing, I find myself wanting the same bit of agency in order to give me more stake in the story.  I want to feel more immersion.  To be true, we’ve never had agency in the Warcraft story before, including during Legion.  But Legion gave us a taste of what we haven’t had a very long time, and for many others, never knew we even wanted.  And now that we’ve had that taste, we want more personal story content.  Additionally, the bit of agency being given to Horde players in 8.1 makes me realize this is something Blizzard should be doing across the board, throughout an expac, from here on. Whether Blizzard does it, or not, is an open question.  After all, I thought after Legion we’d be having class stories, and epic quest chains too.

The Last Kingdom is one of those shows you should be watching

Season 3 released on Netflix 23 Nov 2018

One of my favorite shows over the last couple years has been The Last Kingdom (Twitter, Official site), originally a BBC production, shown here in the USA first under BBC America, then picked up by Netflix in Season 2.  If rumors are to be believed, the show will continue as a Netflix production through season 5.  Season 3 premiered this last weekend, and although I’m only half way through it, I’m willing to say I believe it’s the best season of the show yet.  Each episode leaves me virtually leaping off the couch in shock at its cliff hanger.  It’s the rare show that instills this much excitement in me.  And before anyone asks, I can’t simply binge the remaining episodes as I’m watching it with my wife during evening family time.  In as much as I would love to secretly watch the rest of the season, I must wait and experience it episode by episode with her.

I suspect many of you would enjoy the Last Kingdom as well, and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t done so already.  The setting is Saxon “England” around the year 900 AD, portraying the life of a young Saxon Lord’s son Uthred (original named Osbert, but renamed Uhtred upon the death of his older brother) who survives a Dane attack that kills his Father. Uthred is taken prisoner and is raised as a Dane, instead of being killed.  Headstrong, and more than a bit rebellious, Uhtred thrives within the Dane community.  But his life takes another turn many years later as old rivalries amongst the Danes results in Uhtred once again being thrust amongst the Saxons, where he’s neither immediately trusted, nor wanted.  Uhtred is tested but eventually establishes himself as a strong supporter of King Alfred of Wessex, setting the stage for most of the rest of the series.

The show features strong character development of Uhtred and a handful of other supporting characters. Though most of it centers on Uhtred and King Alfred.  Uhtred is conflicted in emotion and loyalty, never quite fitting completely in either world leading to many strongly dramatic situations peppered throughout theshow.  But don’t let me leave you with an impression that the show is a lifetime channel wonder.  There’s plenty of gritty action too.  There’s Vikings and Saxons, after all.  Fighting is what they do, and we’re treated to some beautiful set-piece scenes with hundreds of warriors on either side swinging large pieces of steel and wood at one another.

I would love to say more, but for those of you who haven’t watched it yet, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.  I give the show a strong 4 out of 5.  Would love to hear your thoughts!