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Ten Reasons why Artifact will be the biggest eSport title, ever
Ten Reasons why Artifact will be the biggest eSport title, ever Written by Michael "rokman" Weldon Hello Artifact! Before I get into the meat of the article, I thought I’d introduce myself. My card game experience comes from the Pokemon Trading Card Game. I started collecting and playing way back in the nineties. After nearly a decade playing casually, I ended up moving toward the competitive scene for a handful of years. I had a few big tournament wins and a lot of success playing the game. There was even a point that I was a paid writer for a Pokemon Trading Card Game website known as SixPrizes, you can see my articles here. Within the eSports world, I have worked in the production side of things at a few major tournaments. As a Production Assistant and Camera operator, I worked at IGN Pro League 3 in Atlantic City (Here’s a picture of me and Idra), as well as IGN Pro League 5 in Las Vegas (Here’s a photo before we opened the main stage). Live eSports events are so unbelievable to witness, as a fan. Twitch is convenient, but it is just not the same. Being there, LIVE, with people who share your interest, who will shout and scream with you when your favorite team wins? There is nothing like it. You have to go to a live event for your favorite game, if you haven’t already. The last thing about myself I’d like to cover is what drew me to Artifact. I’ve always been a fan of the RTS genre. DotA, Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends, you name it. If you played HoN, you might remember that “Too Bad it’s Me, Blacksmith” meme? Yeah, that was me. Sorry! Ha! Truth be told, I’ve had an off-and-on relationship with all of these games. Going from riding a high of winstreaks to the inevitable burning out when paired with casual players who are playing to have fun and goof around. Who even plays games to have fun? Totally insane, right? Sheesh! So finally, there’s Artifact, a game that I can only blame myself when I lose. One versus one in an RTS style game, based around trading cards, it’s basically the exact type of game I’ve been looking for my entire life. That’s why I’m writing this article on reddit, and that’s why I know Artifact will be the biggest eSport title, ever. Here’s ten reasons that’s going to happen --
Valve has such an incredible track record of PC titles. Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Portal, Left for Dead, DotA 2, it’s actually unbelievable. And when Artifact was announced at the DotA International 7, it wasn’t received well. But that’s because those people in the crowd were just plain ignorant. (Yeah, I said it!) They were thinking Valve was piggy-backing off of Hearthstone’s success. I guess you can’t blame them for thinking that, many developers have entered the genre of digital trading card games, but none of them have had Hearthstone’s financial success. And damn, Hearthstone has been an extremely profitable title. In the most recent Financial report from Activision Blizzard, the company was reporting that pre-orders for the Boomsday Project were exceeding any previous expansion. That’s actually off the charts, because Hearthstone has been around for over FOUR YEARS now! But there’s a few things Hearthstone hasn’t done right, from a competitive standpoint. And now that I think about it, has Blizzard ever handled eSports correctly? If you ask me, they’ve only ever been interested in making games that are popular, which is fine, and clearly worked for them as a business model. But that doesn't translate into a competitive eSport. But Valve though? Get out of town! They’ve been a major player in eSports for many years. Just take a look at the DotA International’s prize support! Here’s a list of the Top Games awarding prize money across all tournaments. DotA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are the top games. But get this, after adding up ALL of the prize support between the next THIRTY games on this list, you STILL don’t exceed the total prize support from DotA 2 and CS:GO. That’s BONKERS! I know what you’re going to say, and I agree, prize support isn’t everything. But it’s definitely a massive part of a game’s success (And by extension, the developer of that game). Think about all the people involved when a game is successful, other than players. Production crew at live events (I was one of those guys!), camera crews, media companies, eSports organizations, even a company like Twitch, which live streams events. All of this infrastructure keeps the whole thing in motion, so having massive prize support for players is the very reason all of these other companies have spawned underneath a video game title. And that’s why Valve is the number one reason I think Artifact is going to take over eSports. They know what they are doing. They organize these events. They create the prize pool for the DotA International. And they do that by offering all players the ability to buy cosmetics, with a portion of their purchases funding the actual tournament. I put all my faith in GabeN and Valve to do this right. They’re the best in the business when it comes to this type of thing. But that’s not the only thing you need to take over eSports. You KIND OF need a good game, right? Well, let me introduce you to --
Dr. Richard Garfield
Is there really anything else I need to say? The man himself, the CREATOR of the modern collectible card game. If the out-of-this-world success of Magic the Gathering isn’t enough to convince you, his understanding of skill versus luck in a game should do the trick. This is an hour long presentation he gave. If you haven’t listened to it, you should do so immediately. Many of the following reasons on my list will reference some of the concepts Dr. Garfield covers in his presentation. Also many mechanics in Artifact are built on these concepts presented here, and because of that, there isn’t much more I need to elaborate on, for now. If you weren’t aware, Magic the Gathering is the biggest card game, ever. Despite the current drama taking place, Magic the Gathering has been the premier card game to play if you were looking to make a career out of cards. While it isn’t always a profitable career path, there are a small group of players that have raked in quite a bit of prize winnings over the years. Take a look at the Top 200 All-Time Money Leaderboards. That’s some eye-popping dollar signs, if you ask me. But Dr. Richard Garfield doesn’t only want to cater to that tiny small percent of players, working toward big paychecks, and Magic the Gathering has recognized the different archetypes of players, known as Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. Dr. Garfield has even explained that he builds all kinds of cards, with these different player archetypes in mind. I’d even say some of the core strategies amongst the four colors in Artifact embody a lot of the Timmy/Johnny/Spike concepts. This is important to mention because it means Dr. Garfield will cater to various playstyles in Artifact, which will allow people to be creative with their decklists, tailored to their individual style. And if you ask me, that is a recipe for some very exciting Artifact games! So, looking at where we are now, we’ve got Valve developing a game designed by Dr. Richard Garfield. Already, that should be enough for you to believe in this game’s success. But I’m going to break it down even further. For a game to be the number one eSport, I think the most important thing has got to be the most obvious, a --
High Skill Ceiling
Let’s take a look at Basketball. There’s many levels of basketball, from friendly pickup games on the street, to community leagues at the local recreation center, to high school, to college, to professional foreign markets, to the very top at professional NBA basketball. In each of these levels, you would imagine anyone in one level could take on a person in a level below theirs, and beat them greater than 99% of the time. While that isn’t always the case (Haven’t you heard of The Professor?) it clearly shows the extremely high skill ceiling of Basketball, just because it can facilitate so many different levels of expertise. This isn’t a difficult concept to grasp, I just wanted to go over it briefly. For a video game title to completely dominate the eSport world, it has to have an extremely high skill ceiling. And this is a broad concept to cover, so I’m only going to cover one aspect of it, which is the one I think defines it the greatest… Decision making. In Artifact, the number of decisions you make, and their future impact is one of the biggest elements that separate Artifact from other card games. Within the umbrella of decision making, are concepts like Hero deployment, spending resources in one lane over another, when to give up a lane, and many other specific examples like these. (I’ll probably cover this topic directly in it’s own article at another time.) Comparing Artifact to Hearthstone, the average number of decisions per game has to be an astronomically different number. Unfortunately, I’m not able to play Artifact currently so I can’t give you these statistics. But I’m basing this assumption off of PAX West game videos that I watched. And I think a lot of people can agree with my assumption here. If not, go ahead and tell my why you disagree in the comments. By having so many instances where players have to make decisions, even in a perceived simple concept like initiative, your game will automatically open itself up to a high skill ceiling. Bare with me here, I’m going to break this down, as simple as I can…
Assumption one, Artifact is a game that forces players to make MORE decisions over the course of a single game, when compared to other card games.
Assumption two, when faced with those decisions, the higher skilled player will make BETTER choices over the course of a game, giving them a higher percentage chance to win.
Similarly to basketball, you would assume that 99% of the time, the higher skilled player will win? Obviously the numbers won’t be that high. Nobody can say for sure what that number is for Artifact, but many experts believe that in Magic the Gathering, the higher skilled player has somewhere around 60 and 70% of winning. Let’s hope Artifact is above that number. Now let’s take a look at the opposite of skill. That pesky thing that everyone says is the worst part of Artifact. And the one thing I think they are all dead wrong about, of course it’s --
How many different possible unique games of Tic-Tac-Toe are there? The answer is 255,168. That’s every single unique series of plays you can make in Tic-Tac-Toe, period. But how many unique games of Dota 2 are there? Well, before the game even begins there over two quadrillion possible team compositions. (I don’t do math. These guys did though) And that’s before the games even begun! What about professional sports, like Baseball? I’d say it’s essentially infinite, when taking into consideration so many variables about the athlete's body, different flights of the ball on a pitch, various types of swings, and if the bat makes contact, the nearly infinite points of contact that a baseball could land in a stadium, and that’s not even taking into consideration random things like a player tripping, or a fan in the audience interrupting the play. You get the idea. This is an incredibly important detail when considering how successful a game can be in the eSports space. Card games are at a massive disadvantage, there’s only so many possible things that can happen, it’s actually a fairly small finite number of unique games, when compared to something like DotA 2. So what’s the deal with adding in paths in front of creeps? What about the RNG Flop at the beginning of the game? These things are SO INCREDIBLY good for the game, it honestly perturbs me how many people following Artifact are unsure of this design choice. By adding in these variables into the possible unique games of Artifact, it increases the number by a HUGE MARGIN. I would argue this makes Artifact the number one card game, when it comes to the number of possible unique games. But why is this a good thing? Two reasons --
One, it makes the game more fun to play.
Even with a small deck of forty cards, you’ll have tons of unique games, even when facing opponent decks that are all the same decklist. Each game can be very different based on the minute RNG built into the game! That means you won’t get burn out playing the same decklist. Meta is stale and boring? At least your games will play out slightly different!
Two, it makes the game so much more interesting to spectate.
How does a player react to certain possible Flops? How does a player recover from poor creep spawns during redeployment phases? These variables create a much more exciting spectating experience! Which brings us to the next point --
LuminousInverse, SUNSfanTV, SirActionSlacks, and fwosh did such an amazing job commentating games during the PAX West live streams. If you haven’t had a chance to watch them, I’d highly recommend it. During the commentary, in many situations, the commentators would talk about potential lines of play from the Challengers on stage. In almost every scenario, there were multiple plays to choose from, and many of them were fairly equal in perceived value. In many other card games, there is a clear best play from your hand, every turn, and any other line would be called a “misplay”. But in Artifact, that line separating a viable play and a misplay is quite blurry. Without knowing future creep deployments, some plays could end up being better than others, even when they aren’t necessarily the number one best option at face value. This creates a scenario where commentators have A LOT to talk about during matches, sometimes too much. On YouTube, you can find a guy making videos named Jackson Walters. I highly recommend his videos and would like to mention him for one specific reason. He uses a program to draw on the screen when he does his gameplay commentary. If you’ve ever seen an NFL broadcast, you would know this is a common feature during a replay. A yellow line, drawing over a freeze frame of the last play. No other video game I know of uses this type of technology, and Artifact is absolutely an AMAZING candidate to take advantage of it. There is so much going on, when choosing a lane for a hero to go to, when choosing a spot for a creep to spawn in lane, potential pathing of units, all of these examples would make this technology great for commentators to relay pertinent information to the audience. But those two things aren’t the only thing that makes Artifact a great spectator eSport. And this is a topic that is debated frequently amongst the community. Is Artifact going to have good “streamability” on Twitch? My answer is a resounding YES. Because Valve has done such an unbelievably good job designing the User Interface, a lot of things are clearly displayed to the audience. Even to people who have very little knowledge of the game, just understanding the basics, they’ll be able to recognize when a player is put in a bad position (Here’s a hint -- there’s giant red X’s all over his units!) and the audience can understand when a player is forced to make a big play to turn things around. Furthermore, with the UI clearly labeling Tower health and incoming Tower damage, the audience is given obvious indicators for “points” or a way to keep track of the “score” in the game. Which actually isn’t that common amongst many popular eSports titles. Speaking of eSports titles, let’s talk about the biggest thing Artifact has, that other card games don’t --
“Valve is even working on a deck sharing system that will let you lend a deck to a friend for a match just like you would in a physical card game.” Excuse me? I actually can’t believe this! I know a lot of you young people won’t appreciate how awesome of a concept like this really is, but I’m going to break it down for you. Before the internet existed and everyone had everyone’s decklist, people actually had to work out decks on their own, and with their friends. I personally have spent hundreds of hours “solitairing” decks against no opponent, testing a deck’s consistency and working kinks out of the list. With the current state of electronic card games, people can get detailed statistics of all the top deck lists in the game, what the best players are using on ladder, and so on and so forth. Even in some games, at top tournaments, everyone’s deck list is public knowledge before it begins! This is not how things have always been. Back in my day, people could go to major tournaments and whip out a completely unknown, Secret.dec, that no one has seen before. That player and his group of friends have already tested it a thousand games against the most popular decks in the meta. When things like this happened, people LOST their freaking minds. And to be honest, this is how some stars were born within some trading card game circles. With Artifact’s Deck Sharing, Players will be able to put multiple decks together and give them to their friends, without them needing to invest money in the game, bring them in and use them as exclusive testing partners. While this might understandably sound a bit insane, I can see small groups of friends using this feature for testing purposes. Other than the obvious, it being a gigantic tool to bring more players to Artifact, I’m looking at it from the competitive perspective. I could even solitaire games against myself, playing both decks simultaneously! Nice! While this feature is great at bringing new players in and keeping the cost of entry low, there is something else Artifact has already taken into consideration, you guessed it --
Black Lotus $6,500. Ancestral Recall $3,363. Time Walk $2,628. Yikes. This is the exact reason Valve has gone on record stating that they don’t want this to happen. Their first step in preventing this, at least in the first set, which releases on November 28th, is only having three rarities of cards. Common, Uncommon, and Rare. Also guaranteeing that one of the twelve cards included in each two dollar pack is a Rare. They’re going to take things even further for an electronic trading card game, and allow players to buy and sell cards on the steam marketplace. Looking at it from a business standpoint, how genius is that? They not only sell every card pack in client, but they ALSO get a cut of every transaction made on the secondary market! Absolutely genius! (~15% of all secondary market sales goes right into Valve’s pocket!!!) As of now, nobody can predict the average costs of cards, or the average cost to create a popular meta deck. But one thing is certain, we won’t have to buy hundreds of booster packs hoping to open some specific super-rare necessary-for-laddering “legendary cards” that can’t be resold in a secondary market! Yeah, I’m looking right at you, Hearthstone! So we’ve got a situation where the game is designed by Richard Garfield, developed by Valve, has a high skill ceiling, with RNG that makes things interesting, great for spectating, allows deck sharing, and will have accessible cards? What’s even missing in something so amazing like that? Oh, I know, SirActionSlacks favorite topic --
Let’s say the 482,000 average players of DotA 2 won’t be interested in the amazing game I just described above. Well, I’d call them crazy, but let’s go with this for a moment. What is the one other thing that could potentially make them want to at least open the game and poke around? Yeah, it’s all those interesting characters they’ve known for years, it’s that universe they have spent thousands of hours playing in. A massive chunk of that playerbase might be interested in Artifact, just for the LORE. And if you haven’t seen it already, definitely check out SirActionSlacks Loregasm videos on youtube. I had no idea how much lore was actually in the DotA universe, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for the game I spent many hours playing. From the bits and pieces I’ve been able to piece together during the card reveals, inspecting the artwork and reading the flavor text in the tweet’s on the official Artifact Twitter page, it seems to me that the first set will be based around the Bronze Legion and the Red Mist Army. There’s plenty of great lore to explore there, but it might even give us some clues about the first expansion set for Artifact? Maybe an Abyssal Horde expansion? Or even just a straight up Roseleaf Expansion? Only time will tell… Even though I covered this subject briefly before, I’d like to mention it again, in it’s own bullet point --
Remember when I linked the Top 200 All-time Money leaders from Magic the Gathering? Number one on the list is Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, with total winnings of $497,785. That’s quite a bit of money playing a card game! Well, that is until someone is crowned victor of the first Artifact Tournament, slated for the first quarter of 2019. First place gets a cool $1,000,000. That’s more than DOUBLE any Magic the Gathering player has made... in all of it’s 25 year history! Yikes! None of the details have been released yet, but if you play close attention to the Artifact website and the Official twitter @PlayArtifact, they’ll be announcing it soon, hopefully. Many players hoping to take a stab at that prize pool are anxiously waiting to hear how they could potentially qualify for the big tournament, myself included. But as I’ve mentioned before, a giant prize pool isn’t the only key to success as an eSport, it’s many other things. What I would like you to remember, is how many industries can be supported when a prize pool gets that large. But money doesn’t just bring in a bunch of companies underneath it, it also brings in SPONSORS! Sponsors support all those gaming organizations, that sign pro players to represent them, and allows for such a competitive space to become an eSport. This in turn creates an environment where many people can provide for their families, support each other, and their communities, all from a video game. If that doesn’t get you excited, then you’re truly dead inside. Or your a hundred years old and don’t know what a video game is. And finally, the above nine things would make a pretty great game, but there’s still one last thing that makes all the difference. In my opinion, it’s the most important piece of success for a video game title to be the number one eSport...
Here’s a list of some of the best content creators out there right now, making amazing content for Artifact. If you aren’t already following all of these guys, I highly recommend you do so immediately, not just because what they’re making is awesome, but also because they are giving away beta keys! Artifaction The Artifaction podcast is hosted by SUNSfanTV and SirActionSlacks. They just held a massive create-a-card competition for 2 beta keys! If you missed it, that’s unfortunate, because it was great watching how miserable these two were after they reviewed over a thousand cards on stream (Which was only half of the submissions!). BTS Podcast Hosted by LuminousInverse and Hotbid. One of my favorite podcasts out there right now, these guys are great. Hotbid is a natural talent for keeping the podcast moving and making sure everyone on mic stays opinionated, taking hard stances. That’s what creates discussion, that’s what makes a podcast interesting. Creating debates. I can’t recommend these guys enough! Artificer’s Guild This is an all encompassing youtube channel, covering news, card releases, reviews, lore, it’s a great channel to have on subscribe. Check out their videos, they come out every few days! RobAJG What a great twitch channel this guy is running! He’s offering gameplay reviews, interviews, card reveals, as well as personal commentary. He does stream a lot of games other than Artifact, but when he streams Artifact, he can bring the house down. Jackson Walters While a newer content creator for Artifact (he’s only got three videos up), these videos are absolutely PACKED with amazing information you can break down. He is on another level when it comes to breaking down some pinpoint decision making moments in games. If you want to play on a high level in Artifact, definitely watch his videos. Swim Swim is a top Gwent streamer and dabbling with the idea of moving to Artifact. Personally, I think he’d be an amazing addition to the Artifact community and he’s got only one video up currently, breaking down the Black cards and revealing his own card, Slay. Make sure you give him plenty of love because he is a great creator! Lastly, I’d like to include myself in this list of content creators. You can check out my twitter here. I’m looking to write more articles like this in the future (If you guys enjoyed it, that is) Some of the topics I’ll be covering are going to be pretty heavy, like this article, but also decklists, analyzing metas and tournament results, maybe patch notes (if Valve decides to patch Artifact and change cards), interviews, pro scene topics, maybe even tracking cards on the marketplace, and predicting future meta shifts! I’d also like to do a card reveal, if Valve is interested in spreading the love. Seriously, Valve, I’d die if you sent me a card reveal... In conclusion, because of the ten reasons stated above, I believe Artifact will be the biggest eSport title, ever. I’d love to hear why you agree or disagree, so comment below! Also, one last thing, I do have a beta key to give away, if you follow me on twitter @rokmanfilms, I might do something fun to give the key away. I know you fiends are only motivated by the chance of winning a key! Ha! Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting again soon…
Michael “rokman” Weldon
ONE LAST THING -- I am interested in being a writer for a publication or website. If you’re interested in adding a writer like me to your team, you can Direct Message me on twitter, message me on Discord at rokman#5483, or message me here on Reddit! Sorry, not sorry, for the shameless plug!
https://preview.redd.it/41gp3gv0bdg51.png?width=578&format=png&auto=webp&s=8efaa3dbd334c1adce493869153462c862392e3b I post these editorials in the morning because before bed and early are when I do my best slow thinking. They are actually hard for me to post because they make me feel a little vulnerable, though I'm not sure why - or why still. I used to just delete them about an hour after I posted them. I get up before dawn so I doubt any of you caught it. Then I started leaving them and saying I would delete them later. Either they had a time sensitive stock "idea" or just something I changed my mind on later. Then people asked me to stop doing that. I try to be more selective about what I post and make sure it has real value to learns like I do. These posts get the least Up-votes so I know they are not read as much because those are generally good "I've read this" checks to know whats popular. They are always at the bottom of the sorted lists and I'm lucky to get one comment. But the comments I do get are usually profound ones like "I can't believe no one explained it that way to me.. I finally get it". That was me. I never got things the way other people did. Since I was a kid. I had to find people who taught me things in a way that I understood. Now I think I have advantages for the way my brain learns a little differently, whether I shaped it or not. But it doesn't make it any easier to know that when most people read your stuff they just don't care about half of it. But now I know that's them not me. I finally realized like me, some people don't learn like I do, so this part of my content does not interest them and that's just fine with me. I really started this sub to help my fellow slow thinkers. The people who can read something like this and extrapolate some hidden value that I might be trying to get across. That's who I am anyway. And as long as every once in a while, I get a note that says I helped someone see something new for the first time, then I'll keep trying different tactics to get through to different minds. If you don't like them, just skip anything labeled "Opinion". https://preview.redd.it/8fdwfa3dxcg51.png?width=512&format=png&auto=webp&s=80209f3941f8d6bcb5aa5be244402c8eaa88dbc8 Yesterday I posted the content from our Guest Mentor, John Chao. For our Q&A I let him do his own editing so he chose what words he bolded. The only one I added bold to out of the whole thing was this sentence that he came up with in the moment. "To be a consistently profitable trader, we need to be disciplined like a professional athlete." One of my favorite novels of recent years was a book called The Art of Racing In the Rain. It has since become a movie, and one I quite like. It's about a dog who's owner is a race car driver, told through the dogs perspective. The owner meets a girl and a lot happens, but without spoiling it, there's some health crisis that occurs, which is probably what made me connect to it so much. The dog's owner, a racer named Denny Swift, is not a big guy. He wasn't in the book either. But he was sharp. Sharp physically and mentally. He was alert and wired and ready to go. But he was also cool and calm and the longer he raced the more cool and calm he appeared on the outside while on the inside he was corralled team of horses waiting to be let out to pasture whenever he needed them. All the terrible struggles and victories he faced seemed minor because he was always cool - always ready. I had one bad group/mentor that I regret. It actually was not a bad service, but it was just pay-to-win setup. I had no control over what I bought. I did place my orders, but they picked the stocks and prices. I never took a trade for a while because it made me feel so sick. They posted winning members trades on a Facebook, sort of like I have been posting our member's great trades recently. I was sure it was a scam. I thought, they are only posting the good ones. It bet that's like 5%. I spent all my time finding new ways to get angry at other people, when I was just angry at myself for wasting all this money that I was already hurting for from a horrible loss streak. I actually have been angry about that until this morning when I was talking to a new member about possibly posting a good trade she had, but she wanted to "wait for a better one". (Good for you!) In the shower this morning, my best slow thinking time of day, I asked myself, am I just like that guy who ran that service? I don't charge money but the effect is still the same. Maybe I don't want to be famous or rich from this mentoring but I do want a big following of people committed to independence. So am I selling out in a way? I then emotionally re-processed what I went through with that paid service. I stayed about a month, even though I paid for a year because it was 50% off, and I was not making good choices at the time. Every day I got a tip and every day I didn't take it because I felt like it was resigning to the fact that I would not make it as a trader. I went to the Facebook every day and kept reading those winning trade recaps. I was furious. I wanted my money back but I knew I made the decision and it was one I wanted to live with. After a couple weeks I took one trade. I made back all the money I paid for the course and deleted my account. This was less than 5 years ago That was the last time I spent money on anything that I did not know exactly what it was and how it would help me be independent. I did not resign myself again after that day though I came close many times again. I took desperate measures to get back above PDT and it hurt but I did it. I can feel my heart rate increasing as I type this and had to get up to walk around, that's how traumatic it was. I had already taken some really quality education before this, for over a year. I already knew cycles, waves, divergences. I knew how to race. I just hadn't done it enough and thought I should be Denny Swift, the racer from the book, without having his ten thousand laps. To me the stock market is a race track. The scans I give out, or watchlists anyone else does, are race cars. They are great tools in the right hands, but like a new racer who's tires were not changed by a team the driver trusts, they are just as likely to crash it as make a clean lap. They read the books and watched the videos. But they haven't raced enough. They should have gone 5 miles and hour, but they went 60. They could gone for one lap, but they went for two. They don't have the best gear and don't even know what the best gear is. Is there even a best set of gear for everyone or do they need to study more books to find out what their best gear is? There's tons of race cars and they all work just fine. If you can't drive one yet, switching to another one won't help. https://preview.redd.it/69y6meu09dg51.png?width=512&format=png&auto=webp&s=fecc7d6278d3d29858b617e74655a833bc183b05 I think I'm finally over that bad program I paid for at one of my lowest moment in trading. But, boy, did it take a while to figure that one out. If you took anything from this post, or are new to trying to find the hidden message then let me help you this time. Notice all the links I put about a Nobel-prize-winning-book that helps you determine if you are a slow or fast thinker and how not figuring that out can hold you back for life. Notice how I actually figured out what my most thoughtful time of day is (in the shower) and I know what to think about during those few minutes to get more out of it. I know what foods literally cause me to make poorer choices when I trade. I mention a novel I read because I thought it might be insightful to my life and now my trading. I can't race a car, I've never watched Nascar, and I rarely drive myself anymore. I have health problems that make just getting out of bed feel like a long hard race most days. But even on my worst days, my mind is sharp. And if I'm not well enough to exercise one day, I'm probably reading about how to improve my exercise for the next day. I never miss and opportunity to improve myself and apply learning in everything I do. My mind is a corralled team of horses and I am always ready to meet a challenge with full force and commitment because I am prepared. I was born a thoughtless baby just like you. I had more disadvantages then most but I want the mind of a racer, not that helpless trader I was a few years ago, so I work at it constantly. It's contagious and addictive and I love it so much more than sitting around waiting for things to change when I know they rarely do. https://preview.redd.it/84but6qaadg51.png?width=512&format=png&auto=webp&s=50a3f318cc90e997572f8de4c57b4ef5dfce7eba skotlaroc is one of our members and someone who has made more progress than most. He can't race full speed yet but his racer's mind is developing rapidly and when he's ready I am confident he will crush it. One reason he is making such progress, and others like him, though its not always apparent when we they are the ones driving, he talks to me and other trades constantly. He happens to be in Australia and trades the ASX which puts him at a huge disadvantage because he doesn't trade the tickers I talk about, his market has totally different volatility and his market opens when mine closes. But rather than give up he learned how to drive on a wet track. Rather than be upset about the time difference he uses it to his advantage with my weird sleeping schedule. Since he is going to bed when I am waking up, he actually figured out that that my (Ryan's) slowest thinking time is before dawn and right before I turn off my screens at night so he always catches me then to get my more insightful feedback. He probably doesn't even know he did this but he knew how to get the most out of a situation by figuring it ut. He's making choices and his team of horses is growing in his mind and his car is revving up on the track. He just has to survive long enough until he can take his off the speed limit control and go full speed with a full team of horses in his engine. https://preview.redd.it/fjodtyp2bdg51.png?width=512&format=png&auto=webp&s=805442fe7e4ecea9c742f305c7e5d1e1fc5bff11 I don't want you to think I don't have fun and just work all day. I work a lot because I love it and the only thing I do more than trade right now is this community. But I get my ego handed to me by a 10 year old every day at 3:00. https://preview.redd.it/vlckly7c1dg51.png?width=578&format=png&auto=webp&s=b821d982fdb115b6da2a8632e803c3d0b6424a44 I bought the Cadillac of bubble machines to add excitement to our squirt gun fights. https://preview.redd.it/ylopkn422dg51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=e8c65e9eb8c29c637925eb07b06f39dfa824d5a8 And even go down the slide I put in last year for her. https://preview.redd.it/9nvi0gf92dg51.png?width=633&format=png&auto=webp&s=24992c2de64986335761ee5c489e8361ef734f65 I still play first persons shooters when a good one comes out, I watched the second season of Umbrella Club twice and I probably have more THC in my blood than your teenage children. But everything I do is deliberate and thoughtful. It doesn't mean I always work hard or work it all. I just know that life is finite and mine probably more than most. I will never again waste one minute feeling sorry for myself or blaming other people for anything when I can choose to use that time to try to resolve what got me upset in the first place. I know most people who take my scans never look at the code to learn, even though I say this is its purpose. I know people buy things I just post a ticker of, which is why I rarely do. I see oh so many people talk to me about concepts and they are showing they understand them but then I click their names I still see them still posting on other reddit's asking complete strangers "what do you guys think about XYZ?" https://preview.redd.it/eeoh1n0lbdg51.png?width=512&format=png&auto=webp&s=696809c70939b6d188ed61b5644b16f21d97a87d I woke up to a new message from skotlaroc this morning before 3:00am. His market had closed so he was done for the day. I told him I was going to get some coffee and to leave me an update on his trading. He knows he is at risk of being posted about if he talks to me. just don't judge us for our typo's at that time of day. https://preview.redd.it/kvt71c8h4dg51.png?width=1335&format=png&auto=webp&s=ae03af84799529bd4e6c3a83b575ab439436d010 You notice he doesn't tell me how much money he made or lost because I don't care what he does in a day. I care what he does in a year. What I can tell you is that is the dialogue of a racer in him. Neither of us are Denny Swift's and I might have a faster lap time, but he knows how to drive and that's all that matters. He slowed down now so he can control the car better. He can always go faster later I've said this before, and it's not just hyperbole: the quality of people in this group and the promise of this community is far higher than anything else I have been involved in by a huge margin. I think we have a lot of real racers here. Just don't crash the car before you take your thousand laps. Good Luck. Buckle Up. https://preview.redd.it/d0eczm3h5dg51.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=47087cf023ff3adb8ebd31cbfbb583c86d3f8721 https://preview.redd.it/j3ojqzul5dg51.png?width=104&format=png&auto=webp&s=71c4de459ed414bd817233e86bec4efbb47bfc90
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
[GUIDE] 33 Gampley Tips and Tricks for New and Veteran 75-cap FFXI Players
Hey everyone, this'll be a long post. I started this out as a script for a Youtube video but I don't have the time anymore to continue recording and editing it so I decided to adapt it into a Reddit post here so that it doesn't get lost. This is going to be geared towards both returning and seasoned players in the FFXI private server scene and is going to be pretty general so that it is applicable regardless of which server you choose to play on (for the most part). So, here it is, 33 gameplay tips and tricks for 75-cap FFXI servers:
1. Signet Accuracy and Evasion
Tip one: while it is widely understood that Signet gives you conquest points and crystals when fighting, did you know that Signet also gives you accuracy and evasion when fighting monsters that are the same level or lower level than you? You will gain these bonuses when fighting a monster that checks as TW/EP/DC/EM. This only applies to the target you are currently engaged with and gives a bonus of 15 evasion and 15 defense. You can see this yourself if you open your character sheet in the equipment menu and checking your defense before and after engaging a monster while having Signet on. This will only apply to Signet and not to the ToAU or WotG equivalents: Sanction or Sigil.
2. Spend your CP
For tip #2, speaking of conquest points, don't forget to spend them. This is an extra boost of income for newer players that you get pretty much for free since you'll getting EXP anyway. When you start out you'll be rank 1 and the rank 1 items are not that great. I'd recommend doing the rank missions to get to rank 2 pretty quickly, you can do them at level 10 pretty easily for every nation. The rank 2 items cost 2000 conquest points and the most desirable ones from each nation tend to be W: Merc. Knife (conquest ranking 2nd+ place) W: Merc. Hachimaki B: Decurion's Shield (conquest ranking 1st place) B: Decurion's Dagger (conquest ranking 2nd+ place) S: Royal Spearman's Spear S: Royal Spearman's Horn (conquest ranking 2nd+) but be sure to visit the auction house to check the going rate for all of the point items available to you and make the decision what will net you the most gil OR if you see something that you like for your job you can spend points and keep it. When you get to rank 3 later it will open up more items to spend points on (like the desirables: M.C. Belt, Cent. Sword, R.S. Mufflers) so definitely keep that in mind. If you do not know where to spend your points, it's the same NPCs that give you signet, the guards in your home nation that stand at the gates to the wilderness areas. If you ever want to reference the conquest point item lists without having to be at the gate, the following wiki pages will help you out: https://ffxiclopedia.fandom.com/wiki/Windurst_Conquest_Points_Items https://ffxiclopedia.fandom.com/wiki/Bastok_Conquest_Points_Items https://ffxiclopedia.fandom.com/wiki/San_d'Oria_Conquest_Points_Items
3. +2 Accuracy = +1% Hit Rate
During the first tip I mentioned an accuracy boost for having Signet on. If you do not know how accuracy works, every +2 accuracy is 1% hit rate bonus. Every 1 point of evasion your target has is -1 accuracy for you. When accuracy and evasion are exactly equal, the attacker has a 75% chance to hit the target. If an attacker has 110 accuracy and his target has 100 evasion, the chance to hit is 80%. Every level difference between two entities is also + or - 2% hit rate. For example, if you are fighting a monster 5 levels above you, you take a -10% hit rate penalty down to 65% rate if acc and eva are equal. This should give more clarity on what an item does when you come by it and see the the accuracy or evasion stat on it. For example, on the very popular Battle Gloves when you see the +3 accuracy and +3 evasion stats on it, it should come to mind now that what these gloves are giving you is +1.5% hit rate against monsters and -1.5% hit rate for the monsters against you. This should also give clarity on why it feels like Incredibly Tough (IT) monsters can feel so evasive in EXP parties. At the lower levels, monsters that check as IT in EXP camps are typically about 7-10 levels above your party. I'm going to use the number 8 as an easy, round number to work with... what this means is that before accuracy and evasion are even considered, your base hit rate against an EXP party mob post-level-penalty is going to be about 75% - 8*2% or 59%. That's not a great rate at all and the only significant way to compensate for it is to build up your accuracy stat. This is why accuracy is so important in EXP groups. There is a hard floor and hard cap to any player or monster's hit rate. The minimum possible hit rate is 20% and the maximum is 95%. Getting a metric on what your hitrate is during a fight can be done using the Deeps plugin which will be discussed more in tip 12.
4. STR, DEX and AGI affect combat stats
For this tip, some of the core stats affect your combat stats. STR affects attack. Every point of STR is +0.5 attack for one-handed weapons and +0.75 attack for two-handed weapons (this two-handed setting may differ from server to server but this is the most popular setting). Every point of DEX is +0.5 accuracy for one-handed weapons and 0.75 accuracy for two-handed weapons. Every point of AGI is +0.5 evasion. A good example of these stats in action is in the item Emperor Hairpin which has +3 DEX, +3 AGI and +10 evasion: For one-handed users, the total bonuses work out to be: +1.5 Accuracy (this is +0.75% hit rate!) +11.5 Evasion (remember, this is the native +10 but with the AGI bonus factored in as well) For two-handed users: +2.25 Accuracy (this is +1.125% hit rate!) +11.5 Evasion Now, since +4 DEX/AGI = +2 acc/eva = +/- 1% hit rate, then, transitively, you can think of every 4 DEX equalling +1% hit rate and every 4 AGI equalling -1% hit rate for your target against you. Another thing to note is that your 3-letter stats are often modifiers for weapon skills and that DEX is a modifier for Thief's Trick Attack (+1 DEX = +1 flat damage for TA if THF is main job) and AGI is a modifier for Thief's Sneak Attack (+1 AGI = +1 flat damage for SA if THF is main job). Each weapon skill has its own stat ratios which can be found individually on the wiki. For example, Fast Blade has a 20% modifier on both STR and DEX so if you have 40 STR and 50 DEX, you are getting 40*0.2+50*0.2 which is a +18 DMG stat bonus added onto the DMG listed on your weapon for the damage calculation of this skill. The application of these stats for magical weapon skills works a bit differently and will not be covered here. Take note that there is an "oldid" in the URL linked for Fast Blade on the wiki. With the release of Adoulin, all weapon skill modifiers were changed which is outside the scope of 75-cap... so to get accurate information you'll need an older version of the wiki page. More on that in a minute. In addition to aaaaalll this, STR in particular has one more bonus and applies to all physical weapon skills: every +4 STR is equal to +1 weapon damage for weapon skill and normal attack calculation. This, on top of the fact that STR also gives +attack and is very frequently listed on weapon skills as their modifier, is the main reason that the strategy of stacking absurd amounts of STR is so popular when you get to higher levels. At this point I don't think anyone needs to guess to figure out which stat was SE's special favorite. As a disclaimer, this mechanic is a bit more nuanced than +4 STR = +1 DMG and there is a cap to this bonus based on your weapon rank but for new and intermediate players... don't worry about it too much. If you want to read more on it, the article is here. In conclusion, STR = damage, DEX = accuracy. For ranged attacks, it's STR = ranged damage, AGI = ranged accuracy. Notice it is AGI instead for ranged weapon accuracy. This is why you'll often see rangers wearing a pair of Drone Earrings. That combined +6 AGI is equating to +1.5% to ranged hit rate and +1.5 to Sidewinder's weapon damage calculation (that WS has a 25% AGI modifier) which is really good for ear-slot equipment.
5. FFXI Wiki
Tip number 5 is going to be your most valuable resource on Final Fantasy XI information for quests, items, missions, maps, monsters, just about everything. You can visit FFXIclopedia (often referred to as the wiki) and type whatever article you need into the search bar at the top right. Whenever you run into a roadblock and find yourself stuck on anything in the game chances are the wiki will be able to help you. The best feature of the wiki that you will be utilizing constantly is the History button which will let you see a snapshot of any page from past edits. The History button can be found at the far right in a drop down right next to Edit, see this picture if you can't find it. From there, pick the revision you need (refer to following paragraph). At the bottom you can change the view to show 500 entries at a time if the date doesn't go back far enough. For an example of how the History feature can keep you from getting incorrect information, as you can see on the normal Ranger page it shows A+ archery but if we go to a mid-2007 revision then it will correctly tell me A- (accurate to 75-cap FFXI) and also all those level 99 cap abilities and such are gone and out of the way.
6. Combat Skill
Keep your combat skill up! If you are a warrior using a great axe, try to skill up your great axe as much as possible before joining a group. If you are a thief using a dagger, skill that up. Skill will only go up so far when fighting Easy Prey only so it will be a good idea to seek out a few, harder fights on Decent Challenge or Even Match before heading out to Valkurm Dunes or Qufim Island or wherever so that your skill will catch up some more. Combat skill is the biggest factor that decides how effective you are as a fighter when playing as a physical damage class in a party. The reason for this is that each of your weapon's combat skill is +1 attack and +1 accuracy. This means if you show up to a group and are 15 skillups away from the cap, you are at a -15 attack and -15 accuracy disadvantage to someone else who has their skill up to cap for that level which is absolutely huge. One small caveat: for combat skill past 200, each point gives you +0.9 attack and accuracy instead of +1.0 each. A huge consequence of this relationship for fresh 75 characters is that combat skill merits are insanely important and you want to dump points into them before other merits in most cases. Each merit into a combat skill increases it by 2 and maxes out at +16 so once you upgrade it eight times you are earning yourself a bonus of +14.4 attack and +14.4 accuracy at the relatively low cost of 210k limit points... WOW!
7. Food is essential!
For anyone past level 10, if you are fighting whether solo or in a party, but especially in a party, always use food! It is a massive damage boost so as soon as you can afford it I would pick up some Meat Jerky to start (you can find it on basic merchants in every starter city for cheap) and upgrade later to accuracy food or Meat Mithkabobs (found on the auction house). Newer players, I encourage to test this yourself and go out and fight a monster without food, use a piece of meat jerky and notice the damage difference. It is very noticeable. If you are unsure when it is a good time in your levelling journey to upgrade from Jerkies to Kabobs, check your stats in your equipment menu BEFORE using food and AFTER the party's level sync is applied. Meat Jerky's attack bonus will cap out at 136 pre-food attack so if you have 137 or more attack, it's going to be a good idea to snack on the Kabobs instead. If you are having accuracy issues, Jack-o'-Lantern is good in the Dunes only and other accuracy food is pretty expensive. Bream Sushi (RoTZ, CoP, ToAU servers) and Crab Sushi (WotG servers) seem to be the cheapest and if you are willing to spend more cash, just take a look around in the Seafood section on the auction house. If you are primarily using ranged attacks instead, Sausage is the main cheap early-game ranged attack food that can be found on Bastok NPCs for 140 gil each. Later on, Coeurl Subs are the best for ranged attack. At higher levels, Rangers get a ton of free ranged accuracy from gear from things such as Archer's Knives, a Ranger's Necklaces and Hunter's Jerkins so I'd stay away from food that gives only ranged accuracy such as sushi. If you do need to mix in a bit of ranged accuracy though, Flounder Meuniere provides a good mix for the early levels and Pot-au-feu (WotG servers only) provides a good mix for the later levels after Flounder caps out. For mages, Ginger Cookies are great from 10 to 75 for regaining MP. For BLM, you will have better success with baked pies such as Rolanberry Pie for the added INT.
8. INT, MND and Resistance
If you mages are feeling left out so far, don't worry, I've got you covered. For this tip, each point of INT will increase the damage of elemental magic by exactly one point unless you've reached enough INT to reach the soft cap, at which point every point of INT afterward is +0.5 damage. This soft cap depends on your target's INT and is generally not reached against monsters much higher level than you (VT, IT) without the aid of level 70+ equipment, so it's safe to ignore the soft cap before then for grouping and just consider +1 INT = +1 spell damage. INT also affects the magic accuracy of most black magic, including all elemental magic. So it sort of double dips for elemental magic, increasing both damage and accuracy. This is why the stat is so crucial for Black Mage. Magic accuracy affects the resistance rate of spells. If you don't know how resist works, any spell can be half, quarter, eighth or full resisted. On status spells like Rasp, it is the duration that is either halved or quartered and such. For damage spells, it is the damage that gets halved, quartered and so on. Most status spells, including Slow, Blind, Sleep, Paralyze and Bind either take full duration or half duration; any resists beyond a quarter will count as a full resist, causing the spell to not stick at all. This means a spell like Sleep can only ever land for 60 seconds, land for 30 seconds, or just get resisted. Lullaby is a bit of a weird exception and will always land for 30 seconds if it's not resisted. MND works in a very similar way, increasing Banish damage by one point per point of MND and increasing magic accuracy of most white magic spells. MND has very little effect on cures mostly due to the ease of hitting the soft cap on the HP restored formula. Cure V is an exception here due to its lack of soft cap: no matter what, every +1 MND equates to about +1.4 HP restored for this spell. On the other Cure spells, MND is pretty negligible. For the most part, the main reason a White Mage would want MND gear in the earlier levels would be to increase the magic accuracy of Slow and Paralyze. One last very interesting thing is that MND and INT will actually increase your resistance to their respective status effects and magic nukes if you are on the receiving end of the spell. If you are instead being hit by a monster TP move, the modifier will always be INT, even if the status effect is typically associated with white magic, like Chaotic' Eye's Silence (Coeurls) or Palsy Pollen's Paralyze (Flytraps), and so on. They will roll with your INT as the modifier. It is rare for anyone to ever itemize MND or INT just for resistance but it is something to note and may be something you keep in mind now for jobs that have a low base MND or INT.
9. Resting MP Ticks
After you first sit down to rest, the first tick of MP will come in at 20 seconds and then every tick after will be 10 seconds apart. This is something that healers can use much to their advantage to get in extra MP here and there when needed which can really add up. For example, if one of your party members needs a cure while you are resting and you are 7 seconds into the current tick, consider waiting that extra 3 seconds to get another, say, 20 MP before you get up and toss the cure if it's not an emergency. But if you just sat down 4 seconds ago and your next tick is going to be 16 seconds away you may want to get up regardless. Always consider the current situation at hand with the monster your team is fighting to make the call when you need to stand up from resting to cast spells. Early and mid game WHM is a lot about how well you manage your rest cycles. As for how much MP you actually get per 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. tick, below is a link to the article that shows the exact values along the right side of the page. https://ffxiclopedia.fandom.com/wiki/Clear_Mind?oldid=1053195
10. Mog Wardrobes
Use your Mog Wardrobes!!! Most 75-cap private servers have these enabled (Nasomi has Sack/Satchel instead). If you do not know what these are, they are extra storage options in your mog house at the very bottom and they can only be used to store equippable items. The unusual thing about them though is that they can be accessed from anywhere in Vana'diel. Out in the field, open your minus-key menu and then hit the right key and go to view house and you'll be able to move your equipment freely back and forth. The biggest boon from the wardrobe system however is your ability to equip your items directly from your wardrobes instead of from your inventory. This frees up 16 slots from your main inventory which alone is huge. In your equipment screen after you select one of the slots, hit the storage options button at the very top to change the equip view from current inventory to a wardrobe slot instead. Mog wardrobes are conveniently auto-detected when using equip macros, meaning /equip main "Light Staff" will look in all your wardrobes for a light staff to equip, and the macro will not break later if you move that staff to other wardrobes or your inventory. The same goes for equipsets. Some servers may require you to unlock your Mog Wardrobes before you can use them. On the Eden 75-cap private server in particular, Mog Wardrobes must be unlocked by completing content: getting Mog Wardrobe 1 by achieving rank 3 in your nation and Mog Wardrobe 2 by achieving rank 6 in your nation.
11. 60 FPS
Next up are a few tips for Ashita which is a loader for Final Fantasy XI that lets it run in windowed mode and to connect to private server IP addresses. If you use Windower there are alternate ways to use plugins for Windower to achieve the same effects. For tip 11 we have FPS. By default, FFXI runs at the choppy 30 frames per second. The game was originally designed to run at this rate but this plugin allows you to up the framerate to a smoother 60 per second by typing in "/fps 1" into your game's chat line and hitting enter.
Deeps is a basic damage parser that will show accumulated damage over a parse and percentage of contribution for nearby players. Once downloaded through Ashita in the plugins tab, type "/load deeps" in game and "/dps reset" to start a new parse. The window can be moved by holding the shift key and dragging it with the mouse. The most powerful part of Deeps in my opinion is the ability to see your hit rate percentages on attacks and weapon skills. When you have had a parse going for long enough to have a decent sample size, you can click on the damage bar for yourself (or anyone in your party) to see a damage breakdown. From there, click on either "attacks" or the weapon skill you have been using. Right click will take the menu back one step. This will give a metric on what percentage of swings have missed, hit, or scored a critical. This is VERY useful for adjusting your build or changing up bard/corsaifood buffs. If your miss rate is around 5% (within reasonable margin of error due to sample size) then you are likely at or beyond the accuracy cap, meaning that some of the accuracy you have in your build is going to waste and can be traded out for more haste, attack or STR. As a physical damage dealer, do not let this important tool go to waste!
Probably the most game changing will be the recast plugin. Normally the only way to check your magic and ability cooldowns is by checking the menu or by making dedicated recast macros per ability/spell. With this plugin you'll be able to see all of your cooldowns in real time on the screen. Like before, it can be moved by holding the shift key and dragging it. That's all for Ashita plugins but I'd encourage you to read through the plugins list in Ashita itself to see what else you might put to good use. Be sure though to check the rules of the server you are playing on -- not all plugins or addons may be allowed within server rules.
Next up are a couple tips related to your macro bars. #14 covers equipsets. You may or may not already be familiar with changing your equipment through macros that use "/equip" for each individual piece. Well, now there is a much easier way to do it within the game client. In your minus key menu under macros there is a second button here called equipsets, hit that and you will have an entire book of equipment sets that you can edit and save. Each one is a snapshot of all sixteen equipment slots and once you have one set up, you can put into a macro in simply one line "/equipset 1" to equip that set and it will update all sixteen slots to match it. Equipsets will automatically detect where that piece is located so if you move gear between your different wardrobes or inventory then it will not break the set.
15. Inline Wait Command
Some macro'd actions cannot be used consecutively without a delay between them (i.e. Boost, then Combo) which can be remedied with a "/wait 1" line between them, however this limits your macro to only using up to three lines instead of six. Sometime down the line, Square added the functionality of an inline wait command at the end of any line using the angled brackets. There are a few applications where this is immensely useful, such as this lastsynth macro that will set up your character to automatically craft for two minutes straight without any additional input while you do something else. The macro for that would look like: /lastsynth /lastsynth /lastsynth /lastsynth /lastsynth /lastsynth
16. Keyboard Shortcuts
Tip #16 -- did you know there are several keyboard shortcuts for some of the most used actions and windows in the game? You can use CTRL+Ato engage an attack CTRL+Wto open the weapon skill menu CTRL+Jto open the job ability menu CTRL+Bto open the pet commands menu CTRL+Ito open your inventory window CTRL+Eto open your equipment window and CTRL+Rto reply to the last tell received Another neat thing is that every single one of these CTRL shortcuts will also work if you use the ALT key.
17. Aspect Ratio
Now for a few tips within your Final Fantasy game settings. If you first loaded into the game and felt like the game is stretched lengthwise, that's because it is. The default setting for the game is an aspect ratio of 4:3 which was the most common monitor aspect ratio in the early and mid 2000s so, for tip 18, you can go into your Config menu under Misc. 2 and change the ratio to better match your monitor. 16:9 is the most common nowadays so it is likely the option you'll want to choose. The Config menu can be found by double tapping the minus key to get the second page of the minus key menu.
18. Auto Sort
Tip 18 will be the auto sort function inside Config under Gameplay. The default setting is off which means your inventory will fill with loot one slot at a time until it is at max, even if the items are able to stack on top of each other. Enabling this setting makes it so every time an item enters your inventory it will automatically sort and stack if possible. It is something you cannot live without in my opinion.
19. Tell Notifications
A decent bit of Final Fantasy 11 is going to be seeking party with your invite flag up and you might be AFK or tabbed out for a lot of that. For tip 19, did you know you can safely alt+tab out of the game and not have to check back constantly for invites? In the Config menu under Chat Filters there is an extra option to turn on a sound notification that plays when you get a tell. Find "Tell" in the long list of chat channels, hover over it and then keep pressing enter until you see the musical note. You can test it by sending a tell to yourself if you want to hear what it sounds like. Be careful though, this sound will ONLY play if you tab out of the game from windowed mode but if you MINIMIZE the game it will turn off all sound from the game. If you alt-tabbed out of the game in the proper way, you should still hear footsteps of people running by and general background noise. You can actually turn the in-game sound setting all the way down and you will still get a full-volume tell ping if this bothers you. Which leads into the next step...
20. Don't Use
Please, never use or or or any of the very jarring call sounds for that matter. This is a courtesy for the people in your party. The reason for this is that they ignore the in-game sound slider. If you leave the sound settings in-game alone but adjust the windows sound it will sound normal... but some people do it the other way around -- they leave the windows sound maxed and use the in-game sliders. Since calls ignore the slider and always play at max volume, if you ALSO have windows sound maxed too it is insanely loud and will destroy the eardrums of headphone users. In general, use calls sparingly, and if you want to use one, use one of the softer sounding ones like or or . And if you did not know you can test what each one sounds like using party chat even when playing solo. They go up to 21.
21. Avatar Blur Effect
Next up is a rather niche tip mostly for SMNs. When you summon an avatar you'll notice a really pixelated glow effect around the edges of your avatar. This effect happens because, for whatever reason, the blur effect is locked at rendering at the game's native resolution and you are running the game at a higher resolution. You can turn this off by typing "/localsettings blureffect off". This will make the avatar look much cleaner in my opinion. You can turn it back on by just doing the same thing but just typing "on" instead. This is also insanely useful in Dynamis if you are getting a lot of framerate lag during a pull with a lot of summoner monsters that have their avatar out... the blur effect is the culprit for the lag.
22. Aggro Detection Ranges
Many monsters across Vana'Diel are aggressive towards the player, most often by sight or by sound, as long as they check to the player as "Easy Prey" or higher. At higher levels, the lower end of Easy Prey will no longer aggro you. For tip 22, I'd reccommend picking up the distance plugin in Ashita to better understand the detection ranges I am about to mention. The maximum detection range for monsters detecting by sight is 15 yalms and the maximum detection range for monsters detecting by sound is 8 yalms. However, if you are a ninja or have ninja as your sub job and you have the accompanying stealth job trait learned at level 5 ninja, the sight detection range is reduced from 15 to 12 and the sound detection range is reduced from 8 to 5. Definitely keep these numbers handy next time you're trying to path around aggressive monsters in tight spaces. Keep in mind also that there is a minor lag in playemonster position in FFXI so where you see the mob in your game is where it actually was about half a second ago. It's the same reason that players have trouble initiating battle with a melee attack on a monster that is moving around.
23. Running Ahead of Moving Monsters
This is a quick one. Due to the lag mentioned above, if you want to hit a moving monster, you can run in front of it while facing the same direction it is moving in to land your first hit.
You may be familiar with some common emotes such as /wave /bow and /clap. For tip 24 there are also additional emotes you get when you unlock each job. There is one for every single job and they can be used with the command "/jobemote job" such as /jobemote whm or /jobemote war. It's just a little extra bit of cosmetic fun added to the game and adds to the social aspect of the game which is always a bonus. Also in case you did not know, you can find a list of all the normal emotes in the minus key menu under Communication and then Emote List. /jump is the only one that does not work on private servers.
For 25, just a quick stylistic tip. If you have a helmet on that covers your character's face or just in general doesn't really match the rest of your armor, you can type "/displayhead off" to turn off your helmet or headgear display without taking off that piece of armor and losing its stats.
26. Skillchains with FFcalc
Skillchains in Final Fantasy are one of the many cooperation mechanics that encourage you to coordinate with your party members. Certain weapon skills can be performed in succession for a skillchain that does bonus damage. This works off of each weapon skill having its own skillchain properties that are each associated with an element and when certain elements are mixed it will result in one of the many types of skillchains. Knowing exactly which skills will chain with which other skills can be pretty confusing. There are some charts you can find if you search around online but for this tip I am going to be recommending a very useful third party program that will help immensely with planning skillchains. It is called FFcalc and can be downloaded here: http://www.ffxicalculator.com/ Extract everything to a folder and then open the .exe and click the skillchain tab. In the first drop down at the top left, put your own weapon and in the second drop down put your party member's weapon. On the right side, uncheck "Empyrean" and "Merit" weapon skills (they are not 75-cap) and most likely "Relic" as well unless someone has a relic weapon. After that, it gives you a simple list of all the skillchains you can perform with your party member if you go in this order (i.e. Dagger into Sword). If you swap the order (i.e. Sword into Dagger) it's possible to get entirely different results. Level 1 skillchains deal 50% bonus damage, level 2 skillchains deal 75% bonus damage and level 3 deal 100% bonus damage. Continuing a chain with additional skills will add another force multiplier, dealing even more damage than this.
27. Statistics Calculator
For tip #27 we have another external tool, this one is a website instead of a program so it is easier. Just go to this link here: http://ffxi-stat-calc.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/ffxistats.cgi This is a stat calculator that will tell you the base stats of a character of any given level, race and job combination. This is immensely useful when planning out what your starting race will be and how your sub job affects what your stats are for whatever main job you choose to go with. It will give you information on things like how much HP a Galka PLD will have over an Elvaan PLD... how much INT/MP a Tarutaru BLM will have over a Hume BLM... or how much AGI/DEX you gain playing a Mithra THF over a Hume THF. Your race choice is PERMANENT in Final Fantasy and on top of that each race actually has pretty substantial stat difference from other races. If you are stuck on being unsure what exactly those stat differences will be when trying to plan out what character you want to create, this website is 100% going to be a huge help.
28. Searching by Area
Tip 28, if you see multiple people with their flags up and plan to build an EXP party, make sure a camp spot is open before starting. Many people are going to be familiar with the common comands /sea and /sea all but there is also a search window in the minus key menu that will let you check any area in the game as long as you've visited it at least once. If you know the area's "short name" you can search it up by the chat command as well. Some common ones you may want to get familiar with will be /sea Valkurm, /sea ZiTah, /sea Qufim, /sea YuhtunJng, /sea Bhaflau, /sea Wajaom, /sea MtZhayolm, /sea . This way you can check if a spot is taken. If you see a party there but unsure where they are at... the party leader's name will be marked in yellow so give them a /tell.
29. Provoke is All VE
This tip is focused on Provoke which is the primary enmity-controlling ability, at least in the early and mid levels. If you are a tank and are not a Warrior, likely you are subbing Warrior solely to get this ability. Provoke is ONLY "Volatile Enmity" meaning 1/30th of its effect fades off every second so it is fully gone by 30 seconds when the ability is back off its cooldown. What this means to you as the tank or off-tank is that Provoke is at its highest usefulness the moment it is used and for several seconds afterward since it starts fading immediately. For this reason it is important to NEVER Provoke a monster while it is bound or sleeping -- you are wasting the best part of your Provoke's effects. Again, to clarify, a Provoke that happened 30 seconds ago has absolutely zero effect on enmity. Keep this info in mind when using Provoke to control the pace of a fight for your party.
30. AH Slight Undercutting
This one is a bit controversial since some people despise undercutters but I'm going to cover it since I'm not one of those people and I feel it'll answer a common new player question of "why won't my items sell?" The AH is really basic -- the lowest price item will always sell first regardless of list date of any of the listed items. If a sword is listed at a rate of exactly once every day for 4,950 and is sold at the exact same rate of one per day while a few other ones sit up for 5,000, then the higher priced ones will never be sold due to their price. Because of this simple system, sellers who have an intent to list for a price, like 5,000, will list for slightly under to get the item to sell faster, like 4,950, 4,901 or 4,999 so it is within your interest as a competitor to do the same to get your own items to sell. If there is enough competition for people to sell their items before others, you can take advantage of this as a buyer and put in bids for numbers like 4,800 which might fail but maybe you'll get some hits with 4,900. Once enough sell at 4,900 the price history will basically say "this item is worth 4,900 not 5,000" and the process could continue if there is still competition at the lower price. This is pretty much the basics of how prices fluctuate on the auction house. If you've had something listed for a week or more you may want to go back and check on the price again -- you might need to relist for lower.
31. Camera Control
Next up are a few camera tricks using the shift key on the keyboard. When you are locked onto a monster with the H key, your arrow keys go from turning the camera to selecting options in the battle menu. You can hold down the shift key while locked to allow usage of the arrow keys to adjust the camera angle. Once you let go of shift you are back to the menu options. Another neat quirk about the shift key is when you are running around out of battle your camera naturally recenters itself behind your character. You can hold the shift key to stop it from doing that. It's useful for taking cinematic shots and also useful if you are trying to avoid aggro and need the camera pointed in the direction where you need to see enemy monsters while you are moving around. The game starts with the camera zoomed in patially. You can use the comma key to zoom all the way out for a wider field of view, or the period key to zoom in further. Also, the Home key will quickly recenter the camera directly behind your character.
32. Monster TP
For tip 32, the way monsters gain and use TP is much different from players. Monsters have a TP gauge that starts at 0 and fills up to 3000 just like players, but they will only use TP moves when they reach the full 3000 points. This changes, however, once the mob hits 25% hp or lower, where it enters sort of a rage mode, using its TP moves immediately once it has at least 1000 TP. This can have the effect of often making the TP moves very predictable in EXP parties since a mob will typically have around 2000~2500 TP at 30% so if it drops to 25% it will use its move right then which will help you time your defensive abilities or even preventative abilities and spells such as stunning or sleeping the monster right at 25% to interrupt its move. Whether the mob consistently uses a move at 25% or not is going to depend on your own party's damage output and weapon type since one handed weapons will feed TP faster. If you did not know, while players get a negligible amount of TP when hit, monsters get much more TP when they get hit. The amount of TP a monster gets when you hit it is the same amount you got for hitting it, plus 30. So if I strike with a Brass Dagger, I get 50 TP but the monster gets 80 TP, meaning it gets TP at 80/50 or 160% of the rate that I do. If I strike with a Greataxe instead, I get 137 TP but the monster gets 167 TP, meaning it gets TP at 167/137 or 122% of the rate that I do. This constant +30 per hit is why faster-attacking one-handed weapons feed TP much more.
For the 33rd and final tip of this post, you can see extra information about your character that isn't normally displayed on your equip screen character sheet through the use of /checkparam . The me is in angled brackets. This will let you most importantly see your accuracy, ranged accuracy, ranged attack, and evasion stats that are normally invisible to you. Don't know if you are hitting the bonus cap on a ranged attack food? Now you can check. Unsure of how much accuracy or evasion you're adding with the bard songs Madrigal and Mambo? Now you can test it out. Another neat trick you can do with this command is put in angled brackets instead to see your pet stats on any pet job. This is particularly useful to see what level your summoned jug pet is as a beastmaster. And that is everything. I had to cut quite a few tips (the original video script had 45) and many URLs due to Reddit's 40k character limit. Maybe in the future I can get into those on other posts. If there was something here you don't understand or something missing you were hoping to see, let me know and I'll try to answer questions. I hope this was helpful and enjoyable to read to someone out there,
The Green Bay Packers surprised just about everyone (except James Jones) with their successful campaign under first year HC Matt LaFleur. Before the season, he hired former Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett to fill the same role in his offense, and he elected to keep DC Mike Pettine who served in that capacity the year before under former HC Mike McCarthy. The team ended the year 13-3 on the regular season, including a complete sweep of the division, plus a win against the Seahawks in the division round of the playoffs. Despite their success, there were many critics who considered them to be the worst 13-3 team in NFL history. The Packers were accused of "winning ugly" and not resembling a true contender. Those chickens would come home to roost in San Francisco as they were no match for the 49ers in the NFC championship game. The team gave a horribly flat performance on defense, plus an offense that had no answer to San Francisco's elite defensive front 7. Even though they didn't achieve their Cinderella story, the Packers would go into the offseason with much of the starting roster returning intact for a chance at a second run in 2020. The roster is mostly comprised of players 27 or younger, and only three starters needed to be replaced from the prior season. The team is banking on the growth and development of their young players to help propel the team to that next level. Their upcoming schedule will be much more challenging than 2019's on paper, but working on building more consistency on both sides of the ball will hopefully produce a better overall "team" than the one which overachieved a year ago.
2020 FREE AGENCY
Departures: This offseason saw the end of the road for two longtime Packers in Green Bay with RT Bryan Bulaga (EYE-WAH) and ILB Blake Martinez (aka pussyfucker69). They signed deals elsewhere after giving the team many years of consistent on field play. Replacing them will not come easy. Jimmy Graham, on the other hand, will not be greatly missed. His best games of the season came in the playoffs after two seasons of dropped passes, lazy routes, and non-existent blocking. (But at least he was better than Martellus Bennett.) The only other significant loss was Tramon Williams who played lights out as the nickel corner last year. At 36 years old, it is more likely the team will go with younger and cheaper alternatives to fill his role next season, but a return to the team isn't out of the question. The contracts signed by Martinez and Bulaga, along with OLB Kyler Fackrell, should mean the Packers are in line to be rewarded three compensatory choices in 2021 in the 4th, 5th, and 7th rounds respectively. Bulaga's compensation is capped at a 5th rounder due to being a 10 year veteran. * = former starter
Bryan Bulaga *
3 yr / $30 mil
Blake Martinez *
3 yr / $30 mil
Jimmy Graham *
2 yr / $16 mil
1 yr / $4.6 mil
1 yr / $2.4 mil
1 yr / $1.3 mil
1 y $825 K
1 yr / $800 K
1 yr / $750 K
Additions: The Packers used the $8 mil in cap savings they got back from releasing Jimmy Graham to add Christian Kirksey (ILB - Browns), Ricky Wagner (OT - Lions), and Devin Funchess (WR - Colts) once they were released from their former teams. Kirksey is an athletic ILB with 4.55 speed and playmaking ability, but he has missed substantial time due to injuries recently and only played in 9 games the last two years. Wagner has had one brilliant season with the Ravens in 2017 followed by two average ones with the Lions, but a starter is a starter. Funchess is a former 2nd round pick and still only 25, so hopefully he can finally reach the potential he has flashed now that he has Rodgers at the helm. They did not sign a TE to replace Graham because the team will be using returning players instead. The favored starter is 2019 3rd round pick Jace Sternberger, after he missed most of his rookie season due to injuries. He is accompanied along with the returning ageless veteran Marcedes "Big Dog" Lewis (who is now famously known as the only 1st round player Rodgers has thrown a TD pass to). By making these moves and essentially locking up their starters pre-draft, they allowed themselves some flexibility with their approach to how they would spend their picks. *= projected starter
Christian Kirksey *
2 yr / $13 mil
Ricky Wagner *
2 yr / $11 mil
1 yr / $2.5 mil
3 yr / $2.3 mil
1 yr / $850 K
Gerald Willis III
1 yr / $675 K
Jamal Davis II
1 yr / $675K
3 yr / $13 mil
1 yr / $2.3 mil
1 yr / $1 mil
1 yr / $750 K
2020 NFL DRAFT
1 (26) - JORDAN LOVE (QB - UTAH ST) \pick acquired from Houston thru Miami for #30 and #133 overall* The Packers shocked everyone by passing on a player who may have helped the team right away when they instead traded up for Utah St. QB Jordan Love. This has been an endless point of criticism and even ridicule since the draft ended. But this pick made a lot of sense at its core. I go into much greater detail in regards to this pick elsewhere, but here are the main points that led to this selection:
The team was unable to move up for a WR they were targeting and didn't want to reach for the next one down.
They had a very high grade on Love and expected him to be gone before the #20 pick - he was probably rated higher than any other player in the draft late in round 1.
In 2017, they considered drafting Deshone Kizer at #33 but ultimately chose CB Kevin King instead. Then in 2019, they had a lot of reported interest in Drew Lock – including an official team visit. However, the Broncos moved up ahead of the Packers in round 2 to take him, so we will never know how interested Green Bay truly was. But there is a clear pattern being established of open interest in top rated QB's.
In 2020, the Packers made Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts two of their official “visits” in the pre-draft process, once again showing a clear interest in an early round signal caller.
The Packers do not believe in passing on a high rated player if he is available, especially at QB which is the most important position in the game
"I think it's always kind of been in my DNA that anywhere in the draft, if you have an opportunity to take a quarterback you really think can play, you need to consider it."
-Brian Gutekunst, GM of the Packers Jordan Love is a 6'4 and 224 lb QB with large 10.5" hands and a rocket for an arm. He is a self-described playmaker, which is evident when you watch him on tape. At Utah St in 2018, Love put on a clinic, throwing for 3500 yards, 32 TD's, and only 6 INT's. This put him on the radar as a potential top 10 or even top 5 prospect heading into the 2019 season. Unfortunately, after a coaching change and losing 9 offensive starters, Love saw a major drop in his numbers (3200 yards, 20 TD's, and 17 INT's). Love started to develop some bad habits such as staring receivers down and forcing risky throws, which is what led to the spike in turnovers. However, it needs to be mentioned that Jordan Love put the team on his shoulders all season. He frequently had limited choices available but to either try and make a play or take the sack. Had he not been dealing with this adversity, he probably would have heard his name called much sooner and the Packers would not have had a shot at him in the late 1st round.
"He’s not a bad decision-maker. That was one of my biggest pet peeves in the draft process was people calling that kid a bad decision-maker. He’s not. He’s a kid that’s played with nobody around him and he was competitive and he was trying to win football games. Did he force throws? Absolutely. Did he have to force throws? Absolutely. You didn’t see bad decision-making on ’18 tape, when he threw 32 touchdowns and six picks. You never heard those numbers brought up the whole process. All you heard was 20 touchdowns, 17 picks. Like, nobody ever went back and talked about ’18….. He is the only QB I’ve ever scouted who will be throwing into bigger windows in the NFL than he threw into in college.”
-Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl director and former NFL scout Numbers aside, there are glimpses and flashes of his game that make you swear you are watching Aaron Rodgers himself. He flourishes when the play breaks down displaying the ability to throw off various platforms to keep the play alive. Love has that same gunslinger mentality that Patrick Mahomes had at TX Tech – no throw is impossible in their minds. And when I say that Jordan Love didn’t have any help, it isn’t just making an excuse. He was essentially the only threat Utah St. had on offense in 2019, so Love took it on his shoulders to will the team forward, similar to other top picks like Daniel Jones at Duke and Josh Allen at Wyoming. As far as his fit with the Packers, clearly they have to like his arm talent and his hand size, along with his experience playing in frigid environments - those are three important boxes that need to be checked if a QB wants to succeed at Lambeau Field. One could argue that of all the QB's in this draft, Love may have the most upside just due to his physical traits but is also the least ready to play. I don't think he could have landed in a better position than on a team built to win championships with a future Hall of Famer to learn from. 2 (62) - AJ DILLON (RB - BCU) According to Peter King, the Packers were trying to trade up in round 2 for one of two specific WR's. Once Chase Claypool was selected at #49, they stopped calling teams. We can take this to mean that at that point, the Packers felt all the impact players at WR in the draft were gone. The Packers were content to look for other ways they could improve the offense. The team did not want to simply draft a receiver just to say they took one. And that's where AJ Dillon comes in. Even with the breakout season of Aaron Jones in 2019, there is reason to suspect the Packers view AJ Dillon as the long term primary RB in this offense. Unlike Jones who is a quick and elusive 5’9 and 200 lb RB, Dillon is a north/south runner with surprisingly light feet for his 6'0 and 247 lb frame. He has proven he can withstand the workload of a RB1 posting three 1,000+ yard seasons in college. Similar to Jordan Love, he did it without much of a supporting cast. He led the FBS in the amount of stacked boxes he was facing by a wide margin (46% of the time). He also led the FBS in yards after contact (over 800) because teams knew he was getting the ball but it just didn't matter - he ran it hard just the same. Dillon is best known for his balance and being able to keep himself moving through first contact. He is knocked by evaluators by his lack of presence in the passing game, catching only 21 career passes, but not being asked to do it isn’t the same as not being able to do it. Dillon also has a tendency of not exhibiting the patience to let the play develop, which leads to him missing opportunities for cut back lanes on occasion. These two things are hardly fatal flaws, and he can improve with proper coaching. But why Dillon, and why Round 2? That seems to be what gets people scratching their heads the most. Well, the Packers love to draft athletes, and as far as RB prospects go Dillon is a rare player. He is bigger than Eddie Lacy and faster than Aaron Jones. Dillon posted the best SPARQ score (97%) among all RB's at the combine, and his speed score (117) was in the 97th percentile. Running 4.53 and jumping 41" should simply not be allowed from a RB who is also 247 lbs. I also believe the front office had Dillon rated extremely high on their board compared to other options at RB. Dillon and Jonathan Taylor (96% SPARQ) had to be the 1a and 1b of this class for the Packers. Gutekunst just can't help himself, he loves size and speed. The Packers will also be facing a lot of difficult decisions with their group of free agents in 2021, which includes #1 RB Aaron Jones and #2 RB Jamaal Williams. Drafting Dillon makes it so the team can choose to keep one of those two next year, while potentially grooming their long-term starter. Now LaFleur has his own Derrick Henry that will help him run the kind of offense he wants to execute. Short yardage and goalline situations will be a different story in 2020 compared to the struggles a year ago. Frankly, fewer positions are as NFL ready as RB's are, and few of them are as rare of an athletic prospect as Dillon. He is likely going to be a big part of the offense moving forward. Especially in December and January when it is freezing cold and actual football begins. 3 (94) - JOSIAH DEGUARA (TE/HB - CINCINNATI) The Packers missed on all the WR's that might have made a difference for them, but they were ready to find a pass catcher in an unconventional way. So at pick #94, with only two TE's selected at that point (Cole Kmet and Devin Asiasi), the Packers had their choice of player at the position. It is safe to say the Packers got their preferred one with Josiah Deguara. This pick was considered a reach by most analysts when it was made, but context is important. Matt LaFleur was the QB coach in Washington in 2010 under Mike Shanahan. That year Chris Cooley, a 6'2 and 250 lb TE/HB, had 77 catches on 126 targets for 849 yards. That position was currently vacant on the Packers depth chart, so it can't be underestimated how integral this role could be going forward as LaFleur continues to shape the team to fit his philosophy. Josiah Deguara is the perfect player to fill that Chris Cooley (or Kyle Juszczyk) role in this Shanahan-style offense. At only 6'2, Deguara played in-line TE 60% of the time in college because they tried to move him around to take advantage of his versatility. He played TE, HB, FB, and WR at Cincinnati, where he ended his career as the school record holder for catches at the position with 92 catches in 2 years. The former record holder was Travis Kelce, so he is in good company. It also just so happens that Mike Denbrock, the OC for Cincinnati, coached alongside Matt LaFleur at Notre Dame previously - I bet the two discussed together all the ways Deguara could be a factor within the Packers offense. The main thing that I keep reading about Deguara is how great his character is both on and off the field. The Packers believe strongly in finding players who "carry the G", and Deguara is just a high effort, hard-working, bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work kind of guy that everyone wants to root for. He will play on all the special teams units, learn to play in whatever role the offense asks him to, and he will always give 100% effort. It would be premature to say Josiah Deguara is an impact player as a late 3rd round pick, but he is a wild card who could potentially open this offense up and take it in several new and creative directions. P.S. LaFleur showed this play during one of his team meetings in 2019 as the prime example of what it means to never give up on a play (he starts at the top of the screen as a blocker, then chases the defender down to make the TD-saving tackle). https://twitter.com/ethanthomthom/status/1254590868507557890?s=19 Six months later, the Packers selected him with the #94 pick. It is clear looking back that Deguara was meant to wear green and gold. LaFleur was more excited about this pick in his post-draft interviews than any other player chosen that weekend. 4 (133) - to Miami *traded along with #30 overall to move up to #26 for Jordan Love 5 (175) - KAMAL MARTIN (LB - MINNESOTA) Kamal Martin is one of those LB's that would have been talked about more had he not been battling injuries and been able to compete in the pre-draft functions. Injuries cut his season short to just 8 games, but he still finished with 66 total tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FF, and 2 INT's - his knack of finding ways to always be around the ball had to stand out to Gutekunst. Jim Nagy, the director of the Senior Bowl, called Martin a top 3 senior LB and a steal for the Packers as a 5th round pick. He has prototypical size for a 3 down LB at 6'3 and 240 lbs along with 34" arms and an 81" wingspan. The Packers scouts estimated that he runs between 4.55 - 4.65 in the 40, but he wasn't able to participate in the drill while recovering from his knee injury. Martin is a former high school QB, and he uses that experience on the defensive side to help give him a unique perspective of the action in front of him. He lined up at both OLB and ILB at Minnesota and was a playmaker at both positions. And that position versatility is what attracted the Packers to him. He will need to get stronger and play with better pad level, but there is a lot going for Martin as a prospect. As the first defensive selection in the draft for the Packers, Martin will be given a chance to compete with other young players, such as Oren Burks, Ty Summers, and Curtis Bolton, for a chance to be the #2 ILB next to Christian Kirksey. Burks and Summers are two very athletic guys who have played mostly on special teams, and Bolton was a UDFA last year who made waves in preseason before getting hurt. This group is young, athletic, and horribly inexperienced, making it the most open of all the roster competitions on the team. Kamal Martin is the definition of a sleeper who could have landed in a fortuitous situation based on the uncertainty surrounding the LB group in Green Bay. He is a proven playmaker who finds ways to get to the ball, and those instincts could serve him well as he fights for a spot. Martin is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Blake Martinez to become an every down starter as a day 3 selection. 6a (192) - JON RUNYAN JR (G/T - MICHIGAN) *pick acquired from Raiders for WR Trevor Davis The Packers have had a very positive track record selecting OL on day 3 of the draft. They had three picks to spend in the 6th round, and considering they have veterans with expiring contracts coming up and nothing but UDFA's as depth, they felt it was an area of the team that could use an infusion of new competition. They have a good shot of one of the next three players becoming a starter down the road. With their first of three IOL choices in round 6, they selected Jon Runyan Jr who comes to the Packers with a great NFL pedigree (his father had a very long and successful career for the Oilers/Titans and Eagles). After being a backup OG for his first few seasons, Jr. made the switch to RT and then LT under the coaching of Ed Warriner who coached Packers center Corey Linsley at Ohio St. Jon Runyan would go on to start 25 games at LT for Michigan over the next 2 years, earning 1st team all-Big 10. While Runyan is a bit smaller than you would like out of an NFL tackle (6'4 and 306 lbs with 33" arms and a 79" wingspan), his agility and athletic ability were near the top of the draft class. He had the 3rd best 3-cone time at 7.57, and his 40 time of 5.08 was 9th best in the class. His 10 yard split of 1.79 met the threshold that you want for OL by 0.01 (good enough by NFL standards and that's all that matters). Due to his size, Runyan is more of a pass blocker than run blocker at this point in his career. He excels by using his quickness and athleticism to keep up with dangerous pass rushers but sometimes struggles with moving bigger guys back in the ground game. Runyan will compete at guard, which is what he was announced as during the draft, but his versatility makes him a potential swing tackle and utility guy in the early part of his career. Fortunately he comes from a zone blocking scheme at Michigan, which will help him adjust to the Packers version. A lot will depend on how well he transitions inside and how he makes the jump to the speed and complexity of the NFL. If he can make a similar leap like he made entering his junior season, the future looks very bright for him in the NFL. 6b (208) - JAKE HANSON (C - OREGON) *pick acquired from Titans for OLB Reggie Gilbert There is always something to be said when the Packers select a true center in the draft because they rarely do. Elgton Jenkins played 4 different positions at Miss St and JC Tretter played OT before the Packers moved him inside. The only true center Ted Thompson ever drafted was Corey Linsley - an athletically limited and undersized player but a consistent technician who played in a big time program at Ohio St. Now, Linsley at 28 years old is heading into 2020 as the 6th highest paid member of the team and 3rd highest paid center in the NFL. He is also entering the final year of his contract. Next year is going to be judgment day for many starters on the team, and decisions will need to be made to see who will be offered an extension including David Bakhtiari (LT), Kevin King (CB), Aaron Jones (RB), and Kenny Clark (DT). The Packers may not have the cap space to keep Linsley around beyond this season. The Packers also dislike handing out third contracts to their players who may be starting to head towards the back end of their careers. That means the search to find a successor is part of the plans, and that leads us to this next pick. Jake Hanson may not have had the flashiest combine (5.5 in the 40 at 6'4 and 303 lbs), but when it comes to centers, it is more about their technique and ability to make the right calls at the line. That being said, he did have 33 reps in the bench press which was #4 among all OL. Hanson comes to Green Bay as a 4 year starter who boasted 49 career starts. He was the anchor of one of the best lines in the country since he first won the job as a true freshman, and Oregon may not have been as successful without him in the middle making sure the assignments were correct. Hanson plays with an incredible motor, even if he lacks the desired size to compete against linemen one on one, but the Packers' zone system should be able to hide some of those deficiencies. He has strong hands and a sticky grip (which I'm sure will make our division rivals happy), and he works well with guards in double teams. He still needs some fine tuning with his snap placement as he can occasionally misfire out of the shotgun. But as a developmental 6th rounder, Hanson can continue working on those techniques while learning behind one of the best technicians in the game. Not to mention he can use this valuable time on the scout team practicing with Jordan Love. Should the time come when both players are ready to start, they would have already developed a rapport thanks to their time on the practice field together. 6c (209) - SIMON STEPANIAK (G - INDIANA) With the selection of Simon Stepaniak, the Packers believe they got a player who could have been selected as early as the 4th round had he not tragically torn his ACL last December. Stepaniak is the opposite of Runyan and Hanson - he is a tough-nosed mauler in the run game who likes to pick fights and look for people to punish. He played RG at Indiana, and it is likely with his 32" arms that he may be limited to play interior OL as a pro. His 37 reps (!!!) on the bench press in Indianapolis frequently showed up on tape where he routinely manhandled defenders in one-on-ones and would flatten other guys out on double teams. (The fact he could even do 37 reps while recovering from his surgery is astounding.) His main issues will be dealing with poor agility when matched up against quicker speed rushers, where relying on his upper body strength alone won't be enough. Despite his athletic shortcomings, Stepaniak allowed a pressure on only 3.3% of passing plays per PFF. With some fine tuning of his game, there is potential that Stepaniak could become the top OL of the three the Packers selected in round 6. Stepaniak resembles a guard in a power running scheme from 1993, who would rather be out hunting for defenders than settling back and waiting for them to come to him. In a way, this could be a pick for the future direction of the offense, especially after the Packers selected AJ Dillon and Josiah Deguara earlier. This shows a subtle shift in the offense away from 5 WR shotgun formations and hinting more towards pounding the rock to punish the new mold of smallefaster defenses. It makes sense that they would take a gamble on Stepaniak late this year. Even though he may wind up on the PUP/IR list, the Packers liked his talent this late in day 3. 7a (236) - VERNON SCOTT (S - TCU) *pick acquired from Browns for OG Justin McCray and #244 Who the hell is Vernon Scott? He was only Dane Brugler's 61st ranked safety out of 62 in the 2020 draft, of course! But really, this is a name that most people just shrugged their shoulders to and probably overlooked. Let me now be the one to introduce you to him. Vernon Scott is a player that is all about two things: versatility and upside. At 6'2 and 206 lbs, he has the prototype size you are looking for in a modern defensive back. He wasn't invited to the combine, and his pro day was canceled hence why he was invisible to the draft community. His athletic testing will unfortunately remain a mystery, but the Packers estimated he ran a 4.40, which would be outstanding for a player at his size. Scott was a one year starter at TCU who lined up all over the secondary. He was primarily a key contributor on special teams for all 4 years before taking over as a starter this past season. While Texas WR Devin Duvernay made him look silly in 2019 (seriously, don't watch the tape), Vernon Scott really started to come on towards the end of the year. In the last three games of the season he had 4 total takeaways, a sack, and a TD. He had a particularly strong game against Oklahoma where he made 7 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a 98 yard INT for a TD. He would finish the year with 44 tackles (4th on the team) and 7 PBU's (ranked 3rd). Where did this sudden playmaking skill come from? Scott moved to the nickel corner role, and he was told to let loose. The Packers are clearly banking that his ability as a slot CB, while also having experience playing the other 4 positions in the secondary, will translate to the NFL and give him an edge to win a roster spot. Not often is a player drafted because of a 3 game stretch, but hey, it is the 7th round so why not? He joins a secondary that is led with Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos but was often exposed when other players such as Will Redmond had to see meaningful snaps. The team also allowed Ibraheim Campbell to walk this offseason who had been with the team for two years. Needless to say, the Packers liked the direction where Vernon Scott’s arrow was pointing, and the more competition in the secondary the better. 7b (242) - JONATHAN GARVIN (OLB - MIAMI) *pick acquired from Ravens for RB Ty Montgomery Jonathan "Spider" Garvin comes to Green Bay with a nice resume from his last two years at Miami. He is an impressive physical specimen at 6'4 and 263 lbs with 34" arms and an 80" wingspan. While his 4.82 probably didn't help him, when you watch the tape his explosiveness jumps off the screen - literally. His 36" vertical was #1 among edge rushers and DL at the combine. Garvin put up 60 tackles, 17 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 5 pass breakups his sophomore season (not to mention a fumble returned for a TD) while playing across from Joe Jackson. That sort of production tends to get a player noticed, and so his junior season in 2019 was all about fighting for whatever he could get while dealing with the extra attention. Garvin would enjoy much of his time fighting off double- and triple-teams in 2019, which caused a dip in his overall numbers from the year prior. Garvin ended the season with just 37 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks, 4 hurries, and 2 FF. However, his pressure rate of 14.8% was still 5th best in the ACC according to PFF. The drop in production along with the 4.82 in the 40 is likely why he didn't hear his name called in the early part of day 3. Even so, at his size, length, and explosiveness, he could find a home as part of the rotation at OLB in Green Bay. Kyler Fackrell played over 400 snaps on defense as the #3 OLB last year while 1st round pick Rashan Gary played 245. Now that Fackrell left to join the Giants in free agency, Gary will presumably be in line to pick up the snaps left behind which still allows enough opportunities for Garvin to find a role as a situational pass rusher on defense if he can win the #4 spot. Garvin comes to Green Bay with very similar measurables as Za'darius Smith. He has the strength to hold up on the edge but also the explosiveness off the line to get up field to rush the passer. Garvin has a lot of tools to work with, and having both the Smith's as mentors could go a long way as far as how he learns to master them. The OLB depth has a lot of juice on the team for once, and Garvin makes this group even more exciting. 7 (244) - to Cleveland *traded along with OG Justin McCray for #236
OVERALL DRAFT EVALUATION
The Packers were in an interesting position heading into the draft, coming in as a 13-3 team without any major holes on the roster. All the starting spots were filled ahead of time, which already put this draft class at a disadvantage compared to other teams in the league. The rookies may not be relied upon to start or play much in 2020, barring an injury to someone ahead on the depth chart. It isn't too farfetched to think that the Packers could have selected 9 completely different players and would have received the same level of impact from this class year 1. That isn't to say some of the members of this class can't find a role as part of a rotation - I expect Dillon, Deguara, and Martin to all get involved - but there isn't a need to have any of these guys start right out of the gate. Which can be a good thing. It reminds me of the old school days where rookies yielded to veterans and had to bust their asses to earn playing time, rather than being handed a job as soon as they walked through the door. At the end of the day, regardless of what happens with any other player, this draft will ultimately be judged based on the success or failure of one single player: Jordan Love. The legacy (and possibly the future employment) of GM Brian Gutekunst is also now firmly tied to this selection. The coaching chops of Matt LaFleur will also be thoroughly put to the test to see how he develops. A lot is riding on getting this one right. But in the end, because Jordan Love plays the most important position in the game, if he becomes a successful starter, this whole draft is a win. For now all he needs to do is focus on being the best scout team QB the Packers have had the luxury to have on the team since Aaron Rodgers himself. Nothing will be easily given to Love. Proving to the organization that he is worthy of being the heir apparent to Aaron will greatly depend on how he prepares himself for what comes next.
We drafted him in the first round, we certainly think he has that kind of talent. But that’s not enough in the National Football League. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to become a good enough player. Again, we have one of the best to ever lace them up, and we’re shooting for championships as long as he’s here, and we expect him to be here for quite a while. -Brian Gutekunst
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