How I Set Up My Elgato Capture Card – A Step-by-Step Breakdown

Welcome everyone to another edition of Games with Coffee! It’s the end of yet another productive week! For us up here, we’re in the midst of yet another lockdown as cases surge. I hope that wherever you are, you’re staying safe, following the rules and keeping healthy.

Today is an extension of the previous post: I’ll demonstrate how I set up my capture card. This will include how I adjusted my audio/visual settings to compliment my card and the testing methods I employed to ensure I get a near-perfect synchronization between game audio, microphone audio and camera. Let’s get to it.


So, You Picked Up A Capture Card…

Congratulations first of all! You now have a doohicky that can capture your gameplay from your gaming console and transmit it to your computer. As far as the instructions go, it’s simple. First, insert the HDMI cable from your console to the input side of the card. Second, connect the output to your TV. Finally, connect the data cable (typically a USB 2.0 or 3.0) from the card to your PC.

Once that’s in place, you can begin streaming! There are several ways that you can do so:

Use The Capture Card’s Software

If you have an Elgato Capture Card, you can download the Game Capture software from their website. Once installed and opened, you’ll see this interface:

From here, you can modify the settings of your card depending on what you’re playing, including your microphone settings, game audio and titles. You can also link your streaming account to the software so that you can stream directly from it and record your gameplay. Now, to be perfectly frank, I’ve only used this software a few times. What I usually do is:

Use The Capture Card Through OBS

More specifically in my case, Streamlabs OBS, however, base OBS works just as well.

OBS integrates fairly well with most capture cards, especially with Elgato cards. While they work right out of the box, in order to utilize the card to the fullest extent within your stream, you’ll have to do a few modifications to your setup.

Setting Up For Success

In order to get the most out of your capture card, it’s important to understand one main thing: external cards have a slight delay on them, due to their reliance on wired connections. That means that if you’re playing live, the card will be capturing a few seconds behind you. Chances are, your microphone and webcam are set to pick up audio/visual in real-time. What that means is that you could be broadcasting your reactions about gameplay events a few seconds ahead of your capture, which is what your audience will see. If that doesn’t bother you too much, then that’s perfectly OK! You have to stream the way you want to, after all.

If it does bother you though, you have a few options. The first is to replace the external card with an internal card that can be mounted into a PCI slot. Because it’s internally mounted, you wouldn’t suffer from latency issues and would be able to capture and broadcast content in real-time without making any adjustments to your camera and microphone. The two main drawbacks here are that these cards are first and foremost expensive to purchase, sometimes ranging over $200. Secondly, their use is limited to PCs only – laptops can only use external capture cards (to my knowledge – if you know otherwise, please share!).

The second option – which is what I’ve used and will discuss in detail – is to modify the delay on both your microphone and webcam to match the in-built delay on the capture card.

Initial Settings

First off, connect your capture card to your console of choice and to your PC/laptop and then boot up OBS. I’ll be using Streamlabs OBS for demonstration purposes, but these methods will also work on base OBS.

Next, we’re going to play around with some delay settings on your microphone and webcam to sync it up to the captured gameplay. By doing this, you’ll be giving off the illusion that you’re playing and commenting on the game in real-time, despite being a couple of seconds ahead of your audience. That’s the main goal here!

Now, looking at this delay issue up on Elgato’s help site, it states that you’ll want to set your microphone and webcam delay to 650ms as the default. We’ll start with setting the delay to the microphone.

On the Audio Mixer panel, click on the gear icon on the top right-hand side of the panel. This will open the master mixing settings for all your audio inputs/outputs.

Go to where your microphone input is and under Sync Offset, set the value to 650. What this does is delay your microphone output to your audience by 650 milliseconds.

Next, under your sources, go to your webcam, right-click and select Filters.

In the Filters window, hit the + button and select ASync Delay. Then, set the delay to 650ms.

Once applied, you can visually notice a delay on your webcam broadcast, which is what your audience will see as well.

Optimizing The Settings

With these in effect, your mic and webcam should be roughly close to your captured gameplay. One way to test out if your mic and webcam have synched to your gameplay is to put on a platformer and record yourself saying “Jump” every time you press the jump button. Then, view the recording and see if your character (Mario, Sonic, whomever) jumps when you say “Jump” out loud.

If you’re using the base values above, chances are that synchronization is close but not quite there yet. Not to worry, as we can optimize the delay values to achieve total (or near-total) sync!

Now, adjusting the delay values depends on several factors. The first and foremost is the port that your capture card is connected to your laptop/PC. In my case, I have it hooked up to a USB expansion adaptor located at the front of my PC. The next factor is the cable that you’re using to connect the capture card to the PC. My Elgato is an older model and so, it utilizes USB 2.0 tech. That means that it’s quite slow compared to the newer models that use USB 3.0. The final factor is the HDMI cables that you’re using to connect between your TV, your console and your capture card. You don’t need the best of the best, just make sure you have a decent, undamaged cable.

Once you’ve got that confirmed, next comes the fun part: doing multiple audio and video tests and iterating your delay times after each test! Generally speaking, your audio and webcam delays should match one another, so after each recording, go to the mixer and filter settings respectively and adjust.

When it comes to narrowing down the best offset numbers, I found that the optimal way to do so is by trying to match the delay to the game’s audio. What I mean is, I muted my PC audio, hit record and then hummed or whistled along to the game audio from my TV, making sure my microphone captures my humming or whistling. Then, I reviewed the recording, adjusted the delays and re-recorded until my humming and the game’s audio matched perfectly! It’ll take about half an hour or so to narrow down the delay to a single millisecond, but the results are totally worth it! In my case, my current offset values are at 515ms. What’s great about this method is that it doesn’t require you to be musically inclined – all one has to do is make sure the humming (however off-key it sounds) syncs up to the game’s audio. If you’re having trouble with it, enlist a friend or a family member to help out!


And there you have it! A (hopefully) easy-to-understand guide on setting up an Elgato Capture Card. Note, I haven’t tried other cards, however, I’m pretty sure that the above steps would work with them just as well! 

Do you own a capture card for streaming? Got it to work to your specifications? Let me know in the comments below!
Well, that’s it for this post. With that, this has been Ryan, reminding you to Live with No Regrets, Believe in Yourself and Chase the Impossible! See ya next time!

What I’ve Learned From Streaming – A Year-Long Journey

Welcome everyone to another edition of Games with Coffee! I hope everyone’s had a great week and is looking forward to the weekend!

As promised in my last post, today I’ll be talking about my streaming experience over the past year and share a few lessons I learned during that time.


Having A Proper Set Up Matters

Honestly, this can make or break a stream. When I first got into streaming back in 2018 or so, I had a budget-friendly refurbished laptop (that I later had to repair because the hard drive failed spectacularly…), a lapel microphone, some basic headphones and an Elgato HD60 Capture Card. I did one, maybe two streams using this setup before setting it aside for a year or so because I felt so intimidated by the whole process.

I revisited this back in 2019 and looked up specifics on what one needs to stream and this is what I found to work: A computer with mid-range specs on power and graphics, a monitor, a microphone and a pair of headphones. One could also get a webcam, but that’s really an optional piece of equipment – there are plenty of successful streamers who stream without ever showing their faces. 

As for what software to use for streaming, there are several options. The most popular of them is OBS, which literally means “Open-source Broadcasting Software.” OBS is a robust and fairly simple software to use and there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube to help with the learning process. On top of that, there are several flavours of OBS. The one I use specifically is Streamlabs OBS. It has a clean UI and links your live stream site account (Twitch, YouTube, etc.) with your Streamlabs account. From there, you can add things like animated images for alerts, banners, track donations and follows and a whole bunch of other things.

I used GIMP to develop my overlays and logos. I designed my overlays using sprite backgrounds that you can find all through the internet that I tweaked to suit my preferences. My current overlay for my Sunday stream is based on the large level screen display thingy in Knuckles’ Chaotix, while my Tuesday stream uses classic text boxes from RPGs to emulate a menu screen.

An example of my current Sonic Sunday overlay. Elements not included :P.

In terms of my equipment, I have a fairly powerful PC with an AMD processor and an older model Nvidia graphics card. I mentioned that this was given to me by my cousin Lee, who is freakin’ awesome by the way! I’ll never stop saying that haha. I use two monitors: an ASUS one which is my main and an old 22” Samsung LCD TV as my secondary monitor. The TV is what I use to connect my older consoles on since it has dedicated A/V, composite and HDMI inputs as well as a separate headphone jack.

I still retained the Elgato HD60 capture card, however, I didn’t use it when I started out; I was still too intimidated by it. I only started using it fully this year to great success and I’ll present a tutorial on how I configured mine in a future post.

Plan On What You Want To Stream

Having a good setup is nothing without having something to play! I honestly found this to be the fun part of streaming – planning what to play during your streams. When 2020 was around the corner, I knew immediately that the first games I wanted to stream were Sonic games, since I officially dubbed it the “Year of Sonic the Hedgehog,” due to my involvement with the “Characters That Define Us” collaboration. So, during the winter break, I compiled a list of Sonic games I planned on playing between February and June and I stuck with it (with deviations from time to time). After I got my list, I then picked a day that worked with my schedule. During a typical week in 2020, I had split my time between writing Mobius VII and spending time with my family. Saturdays were extremely busy but Sundays were not, so I chose Sunday nights to stream. Later in the year, I added a Tuesday stream where I played mainly retro action-adventure titles, like Alundra, Mega Man, Castlevania and Zelda, to name a few.

This habit of planning out what to play helped me be consistent with my streams while also giving me something to look forward to on the days I was streaming.

Run Plenty Of Tests

Retro Game Brews, a good, good friend of mine and fellow streamer, shared this extremely valuable piece of wisdom with me when I first started: Dealing with sound and video issues is a rite of passage within Twitch. Just as it’s important to have a good setup for streaming, it’s also important to test out your stream and adjust settings to suit your audience. With OBS and Streamlabs OBS, you have the option of recording yourself, which is vital for testing your setup. What I did was record myself playing and talking for about 30 seconds to a minute each time and then watching and listening afterwards to see both how the game and I sound. I also took the time to review my visual assets, like layouts and alerts and make sure they were coming out crisp and clear.

I then got into the habit of running tests and checking my stream settings prior to my broadcast. I did this because every game is different; the sound of some games comes out loud while other games are quiet. Sometimes my voice overpowers the game audio while sometimes I’m too quiet for my audience to hear. Bottom line is, it’s worth it to continue testing your setup prior to streaming.

Play What You Want To Play

The title speaks for itself. Don’t be so worried about consistently playing the most popular games around unless you’re really gunning for that Partner status. If you enjoy playing what you want to play, your enthusiasm will show and your audience will recognize that. In my case, playing Sonic games on Sundays helped me grow my audience base since those were the games I loved playing. Things would probably be different if I played a game that I wasn’t wholly interested in, despite its popularity.

Sometimes What’s Popular Isn’t Quite Popular 

On the other hand, even playing the most popular games might not garner enough attention from your audience. I did a stint of playing Final Fantasy VII Remake over the summer of 2020 and I noticed that my viewership dropped. It could be that the Remake just wasn’t interesting enough for my core audience, or it could be due to me using my PS4 as an alternate stream setup to play it, but I wasn’t drawing in people like I used to. Though it wasn’t a bad thing because I was able to make a great friend during the FFVII Remake journey and now he’s one of my favourite regulars!

As I mentioned above, I used my PS4 to stream my Remake game session. Looking back, I think I would have had better success if I utilized my capture card. This leads to my next lesson:

Capture Cards are a Godsend (Once Configured Properly)

Now, for most people, capture cards are quite intimidating. On the surface, they’re easy to operate – connect your console to the input side, connect your display to the output side, insert the data cable to your computer and voila! The capture card is connected and Ret-2-Go! (Sorry, I’ve been on a Shantae fix lately…)

Except that’s only half the battle. While the plug-and-play setup lets one instantly stream console games, I found that the Elgato capture card has an in-built latency delay due to the USB cable. That means that if I make a jump in real-time, my viewers will see that same jump about a couple seconds later. If you combine that with a webcam and mic set up that’s configured to pick up streamer audio/visual in real-time, viewers will see a synchronization delay which doesn’t look super professional. I figured out how to solve this sync problem (not without some issues) and so, I’ll be sharing a detailed post in the following week on how I synched up the audio/visual stuff to the capture card. I know this would be a big help for any up-and-coming streamers who are able to secure such a card!

So, the rig is ready, the mic and webcam are ready, the games are ready and the capture devices are ready. Now comes one of the biggest lessons I learned:

Consistency Is Key!

After figuring out the above, this lesson here is the most important – not only for streaming but also for anything in life.

Having a consistent and predictable schedule will help grow your audience. Period. Plan for it and let people know however you can. Share your schedule on social media, put it on your group chats, wave banners, shout it out from the rooftops if possible; it doesn’t matter, just get the word out! I found for myself that initially letting family and friends know that I’m streaming on x day at x hour ensured that I’d get at least a few viewers on my channel. Those views and interactions really helped when I started out!

Sometimes, life does get in the way of your consistent schedule, but that’s OK! If you can fit in a make-up day, go for it! If not, then delay until the following week. Don’t work for the stream, make the stream work for you.

Finally, there will be days where you’ll get a TON of viewers in your stream and there will be days when maybe one or two people show up. It doesn’t matter – just keep at it! Take every stream like you’re expecting a crowd to show up. Little by little, growth will happen!

Speaking of streaming growth, there are plenty of ways to do just that and my personal favourite is:

Networking!

Seriously, never underestimate the power of a good network. 

It does require a bit of legwork, perseverance and goodwill, but it pays off in dividends once it gets going. Networking with others can be as simple as visiting another streamer’s channel and just having conversations with them. Don’t be rude though and be like “Yo, go check out my stream, bruh!” Be genuine and be patient. If the streamer does ask if you stream yourself, then it’s fair game! Share what you play, what you’re about and what days and times you stream and go from there. Sometimes, viewers of that very stream may end up following you, giving you more opportunities to draw an audience.

Two of the many ways I’ve networked were from my work as a games writer/blogger and through participating in streaming competitions. As you know, I’ve worked on a fair deal of collaboration projects with various writing groups. Along with reading some way past cool stuff, I also made a ton of great friends, some of which visit me on stream from time to time to partake in my adventures! To those great people who do so, thank you so much by the way!

I was also fortunate to participate in a few streaming competitions hosted by none other than Retro Game Brews. The first contest I was in was a Sonic 2 speed race within Emerald Hill Zone and it was a riot! Though I didn’t make it to the next rounds, I still had a blast and cheered on the other competitors who were all great sports! I’ve since played other great games such as Kung Fu (NES), Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Outrun (Genesis) and Super Punch-Out (SNES). My run on that last game was beyond epic because I finally beat the crud out of Super Macho Man, my nemesis from the original Punch-Out. Beyond finishing him off, I almost beat the game too! It was exciting!

Super Punch-Out ended up being my most memorable competition as it was the push I needed to reach Affiliate status. As I mentioned before in my last post, it was the best birthday gift I’ve ever received!

However, the best competition I had a blast with was the RGB High Score Castlevania Speed Run contest that occurred last year during Halloween. Though I love Castlevania, I was always intimidated with the first game – I’ve never finished it before and I was nervous about it. As I practiced and shared my progress with the competitors though (who all gave great speedrunning advice by the way!), I felt my confidence build up until I could beat it for the first time. And then I beat it in half an hour, which is pretty impressive when I think about it.

And my overlay was all kinds of hilarious and awesome 😀

When it came to the actual run, I was gunning for sub 25 minutes as my overall goal. In the end, my best time ended up at just over 16 minutes! Here were my splits for that night:

During that time, I gained followers, earned bits from wonderful streamers and made some great, great friends who stop by either for a chat or initiate a raid from time to time. Bottom line is, networking works! Engage with your fellows in the community and you’ll see results. But networking is only half of the battle.

It Takes A Lot Of Work To Succeed

I may be waxing on about how easy streaming is, but I’ll be honest, it does take a lot of work. I built a lot of my own assets on my own, such as logos, overlays and BRB/Commercial screens. You also always have to be promoting your stream. Even though I’m doing this for fun, for some streamers, this is a way of life for them and so they’re grinding every day to get people to tune into their feed. That grind is something that I respect.

One of the most challenging things I feel that I need to work on more is to be more engaging. Streams live or die by how engaging the streamer is with the audience. I started off by sharing my wealth of Sonic trivia during my Sonic Sunday shows. I then did commentary explaining how I went through certain sections of the game I was playing, starting with Alundra on my Tuesday streams. There were times where I was distracted by the game that I couldn’t respond properly to chat or get my facts out straight without going with long pauses. It’s something I’m working on though.

Be Genuine

The biggest piece of advice I can give to make this work is to be genuine with others. It’s difficult to engage with your audience if you can’t muster up some authenticity within yourself. People are perceptive and they tune out if they can’t connect with you. So, talk with your audience! Laugh, cry, celebrate their victories, empathize with their anguish. Connect with them. The way I see it, every stream should feel like a couch session with your good friends and you all talk about everything under the sun while enjoying some good quality games. At least, that’s the impression I try to present whenever I stream.

Have Fun!

The last lesson here is to, well, have fun! Enjoy what you play, ignore worrying about what’s popular or not and above all, have a good time with it. I guarantee that people will come to check you out and stay if you’re engaging, relaxed and having a good time with the games you’re playing.

Continuing on the subject, don’t be afraid to be silly on stream! This isn’t some overly professional setting like work (unless you treat it as such), so go nuts! Myself, I wear certain hats during my streams: Sundays I wear my Sonic hat and Tuesdays I wear a Legend of Zelda hat, in celebration of the series’ 35th anniversary.


And those are some of the things I learned during my first year of streaming. I hope this helps you out, whether you’re just starting or if you’ve been in the game for quite some time! Next week, I’ll share how I configured my capture card.

Are you streaming? What have you been playing? Do you have any further tips or lessons to share? If so, drop ‘em in the comments below!

If you want to see me live, be sure to tune in on Sundays and Tuesdays at 9:30pm EST!

That’s it for this post. With that, this has been Ryan, reminding you to Live with no Regrets, Believe in Yourself and Chase the Impossible! See ya next time!

The Games with Coffee Guide to Last-minute Christmas Shopping!

Another day, another edition of “Games with Coffee,” and what a great edition it will be! As of today, Christmas is a little less than a week away: are you ready for it? Or have you run right out of ideas for what to get for your favourite gamer? Or perhaps you’ve put Christmas shopping to the very last minute and don’t know where to start?

Well, God rest thee merry gentlepeople, because I got you covered! Below are a few ideas that you can either quickly run to the store and pick up, if you’re up north here in good ‘ole Canada, or order online: chances are, you’ll be able to get all of the below by Christmas (barring a few additional charges for expedited shipping). I’ll have plenty of links available to access, so no worries. So, keep that itchy trigger finger ready on your mouse and let’s make some magic happen!


Game Ideas

Well besides the obvious items on a gamer’s Christmas list (new systems, latest popular games, everything Nintendo, etc.), here’s an idea for you: how about trying something a little outside of the norm?

Stardew Valley, Axiom Verge, Cave Story+ and Shovel Knight are excellent choices to buy: all four are great games with retro-inspired graphics, poignant storylines, excellent controls and are available on all current generation systems, with the exception of Cave Story+. Check below on where you can find these games:

Stardew Valley:

Shovel Knight:

Axiom Verge:

Cave Story+


Gaming Apparel and Accessories

Graphic T-shirts: for the individual who loves to show off what they love.

Who among us used to hate getting clothes for Christmas? Well, with these selection of men’s, women’s and kid’s game culture T-shirts, your favourite person will hate you a little less this year.*

*Results may vary.

Men’s T-shirts:

Women’s T-shirts:

Kid’s T-shirts:

Ugly Sweaters: for the gamer who wants to rock this year’s Christmas party.

Ugly Sweaters are all the rage these days! Why not get something that reflects your favourite person’s gaming passion? Whether it’s Mario, Sonic or any of gaming’s famous faces, you’ll definitely have some heads turning at your next Christmas gathering! Here’s a few examples:

Satchels, Bags, Cardigans and Scarves: for the lady with a love for fashion and a passion for gaming.

If you’re looking for a great gift for an even greater gal in your life that enjoys gaming, check out these choice selections from EB Games (Canada) and ThinkGeek (everywhere else):

These aren’t limited to just gift-giving alone; ladies, in the words of an almighty master: Treat yo’ selves!


Toys and Games

Nerf Rival Guns: for the individuals who dreams of LARPing a Call of Duty scenario with their good friends.

With a variety of guns available, free-for-alls have never been so much fun! There are plenty of guns available, bit my personal favourite is the Artemis – a shotgun. Check em out!

Funko Pop’s, Nendoroids and Amiibo figures: for the consummate collector.

It figures that figures would be a great gift to give! From the highly collectible Funko Pop’s, to the picture perfect and adorable Nendoroids, to Amiibos that combine collectibility with function, there are plenty of options available! Now, there are too many for me to link, but check the stores; there’s bound to be plenty available!

Board Games: for those looking to game offscreen.

Want to bring the family together without resorting to playing Mario Kart? How about a few board games? Some of gaming’s biggest names have been associated with board game classics, like “The Legend of Zelda” Monopoly and Clue. Others, like Mega Man, have their own board games and there are even some video game inspired tabletop and card games, like Boss Monster. Finally, games like Settlers of Catan are a perfect gift for those who enjoy games like Civilization.

MegaConstrux Pokemon: for the kid or kid at heart.

If you’re kid’s like any other kid, they have vivid imaginations, a desire to build anything their minds can conjure up and a love for all things Pokemon. How do you combine the three? Easy: get them a Pokemon they can build themselves! MegaConstrux has several Pokemon related figures kids will go nuts over, especially Charizard and Gyarados! Heck, I’m a grown man and I want those for myself!

A Raspberry Pi, a Pi Case and the SNES30 Bluetooth Controller: for those who enjoy retro gaming as much as they love building things from scratch.

Ah, the good ol’ Raspberry Pi, giving you the ability to access all the games you used to play as a kid in a device the side of a credit card. If you got a tinkerer on your list who also loves dropping rounds of Super Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES, then this one’s for you!

For gift ideas, I would go with the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 kit, available on Amazon; it has everything one would need to get started. Alternatively, if you have time and resources to spare, you can buy the board, a case and an SD card and really personalize it for the recipient. I highly recommend the Smraza case, again from Amazon: it’s a case divided into seven layers that comes with two heat sinks, a fan to plug into the GPIO on the Pi and a power supply with an on/off button! It’s a great little package!

But you can’t just the Pi and not get controllers? PS4 and Xbox One controllers work with Retropie, but if you want to give that real old-school feel, I recommend the 8bitdo SNES30 Bluetooth Controller. Easy to set up and use, this is the controller of choice to delve into old-school gaming! Here’s where you can find it:


Stocking Stuffers and Other Small Gifts

Books: for those who appreciate a great story on and off screen.

This might sound odd, but books are an awesome gift to give. I say this because some of the best presents I got, besides video games, were books. I’ve gushed many times about the Mistborn series, it’s perfect for those who are obsessed with RPG’s, magic systems and a deep, immersive world full of lore and legend.

Another book I recommend is Red Rising, a science fiction/fantasy set on a colonized Mars. This might sound a bit spoilerish, but I feel that the story is somewhat analogous to God of War, with Kratos’ struggles for revenge, mixed in with undertones of power and politics a la Games of Thrones. My description doesn’t really do it justice, but fans of the God of War series may enjoy it.

Finally, Ready Player One is the perfect book to give a gamer, either young or old. The younger generation will appreciate the plucky protagonist’s journey from rags to riches, while the older ones from the late 80’s and below will fall in love with the heavy retro gaming and pop culture influences that are scattered throughout the book.

Gaming Ornaments: for those who want to combine Christmas with Gaming.

Ornaments make for great stocking stuffers! Check out a few here:

Journals and Notebooks: for those who want to write the story to the next big blockbuster game.

I got this Legend of Zelda journal as a present from my wife and I’ve yet to stop writing in it. In fact, I picked up a second one for my birthday this year. There are plenty of others available, check out below:

Gift Cards: for when you’re truly stuck on what to buy this year.

If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with giving a PSN, Xbox Live or Nintendo e-Shop gift card. Unlike most other gift cards, the receiver will definitely appreciate it. Bonus if you get them a year-long subscription to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold: you’ll be appreciated all year round!

If they’re a mobile game lover, an iTunes or Google Play gift card will also go a long way!

Coffee Mugs: for those who literally want to have their Games with Coffee.*

Didja see what I did there? Didja? Eh, I digress, coffee mugs make for excellent stocking stuffers: they’re statement pieces tailored to that person’s particularly favourite game or series and they can drink coffee out of it! Win-win. Here’s some examples:


And that’s that! Hope this helps with your last minute shopping. Today (at least up here in Canada) is the last day you can order online for it to reach before Christmas! (Additional shipping charges will be required…). So get cracking!

As for the next edition, I’ll catch up with you all near the end of the year, where I’ll talk about my Quest status in “The Year In Review.” Of course, I’ll be working on a few Espresso Shot Reviews, which will come in the new year, along with something else. What that is, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and hoping you’re spending equal time with loved ones and cherished games this holiday season, this is Ryan from “Games with Coffee”, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.

Path of Exile Play-Through: Finally at Act 2!

Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!”

After a long time, I finally got a chance to continue playing Path of Exile. Long story short, I’ve made it to Act 2! It’s about time I got here, but I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy.

Today, I’ll talk about Merveil, the final boss of Act 1, reaching The Forest Encampment in Act 2 and a few items and currencies that I found interesting.

The Vengeful Siren, Merveil

After clearing The Ship’s Graveyard, I entered the caverns where Merveil, a siren who spelt the doom of many a sailor, dwelled. According to the townfolk, the only way to get through to the Western Forest (at this point blocked off thanks to Piety…) is from Merveil’s lair at the very end of the caverns. Defeating her would open a new path and take care of a serious thorn in the side of many exiles living in Lioneye’s Watch. Like killing two birds with one stone!

Getting to Merveil isn’t easy though; throughout the cavern, I ran into tons of enemies dealing cold damage. Thankfully, I equipped a Sapphire Ring to increase my cold resistances; otherwise, I’d have had a tough time going through here. If that was enough, I also had to contend with Merveil’s daughters – powerful siren enemies each wielding a different element. One of those daughters was encased in ice, thanks to a currency item called the “Whispering Essence of Contempt.” I’ll talk about that one later.

battle-with-merveils-daughter-e1509585525692.png

Jeez Louise, look at those buffs…

Once I finally reached the end of the cavern, I opened a portal scroll back to town so I could dump a few items from my inventory into my stash. I talked to Nessa and, hearing that I was going to take on Merveil, gave me a free skill gem to help me out! Nice! She gave me a choice between Ice Nova, Firestorm and Arc, among others. If you’re using a Witch and don’t have the Firestorm spell, get it – it’s very useful, especially if you add a Chance to Ignite support on it! I already had Firestorm in my possession, so I took Arc instead.

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Sweet! New Skills!

Returning to the cavern, I made sure that I was ready – my equipment and gems were set, my flasks were full and my fingers were hovering over all of my spells, totems and traps. I was good to go.

The fight against Merveil happens in two stages. In the first stage, she’s all over the place, throwing ethereal blades around and causing all kinds of chaos. My advice would be to stay away and pummel her with ranged attacks. If you got good armour and melee skills, then get up close and personal with her, but since my witch lacks in the defense department, I stuck to my spells; Firestorm, combined with Fireball and Fire Traps made for an effective strategy.

Capture

Ehh… Did I come at a bad time? Seems like she’s got some love issues…

The real fight started after I finished off her first form. Transforming into Merveil the Twisted, she let loose with punishing cyclones and sent minions to chip away at my health. I have to say, if it wasn’t for my Devouring Totem skill that I picked up in a Jeweller’s Strongbox sometime ago, I probably would have been dead. In the end, dodging the cyclones, using area of effect skills combined with support gems and being persistent are all the advice I can give to defeat her. Beyond that, you may want to grind and gain a level or two if you’re still struggling.

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I love the smell of napalm in the morning!

Defeating her opens the exit to the Western Forest and the start of Act 2! I traveled northward, taking on hordes of Blood Apes before reaching the next town, The Forest Encampment, where I mingled with the residents, gaining important quests to further my adventure. I’ll talk about these in the next post.

Item/Currency Spotlight

I mentioned that one of Merveil’s daughters was trapped in ice before I took her on and defeated her. Her imprisonment was caused by a currency called an Essence, introduced in the Essence League some time ago.

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Essences are no joke: check out the first image of this post and you’ll see why.

Essences power up monsters, giving them several buffs and making them much tougher to defeat in battle. When you do defeat an enemy empowered by the Essence, they leave it behind for you to use. The Essence I obtained, the “Whispering Essence of Contempt,” transforms a normal weapon or armour into a magic item and bestows a given property (namely, additional physical damage) to the item. I haven’t found much use for it as of yet (since all my equipment is either magic or rare), but it could be useful if you obtain it early, when there’s not many rare items to find yet.

I do want to talk about Totems really quickly: these are useful skill gems to have. A totem skill creates an effigy that aids you in battle either by providing a buff or special effect while it’s active or by using a skill for you. If you find a “Devouring Totem” skill, I highly recommend using it – you’ll be consistently surrounded by groups and the totem will help restore health as you mow down the crowds.


Looking for some of the aforementioned items? Be sure to check out the Path of Exile Items store at Playerauctions.com: they have a wide selection at a reasonable cost, and all transactions are safe and secure.

Hope you enjoyed today’s play-through post! Stay tuned for the next play-through coming up real soon!

For now, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” wishing you Exiles good fortune on the battlefield and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

 

Path of Exile Play-Through: So Close, Yet Still So Far

Good evening and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!”

I need to admit something right now: Playing Path of Exile has given a new appreciation for MMORPG’s. The story’s engaging, the gameplay is challenging and there’s always some kind of new loot or new quest that I’m stumbling on every time I start it up! And I’m still only on the first Act of the game…

Today, I’ll be sharing more info on some valuable quests, items, currencies and other little things I’ve discovered on my latest play-through, which WOULD have gotten me to Act 2, if it wasn’t for a certain individual whom I think will be a thorn in my side for the remainder of my adventure…

Piety Blocked the Way Forward!

Curse you Piety!

Passive Skills and “The Fall of Oriath” Expansion

Grinding Gear Games released their latest expansion for Path of Exile called “The Fall of Oriath.” This new expansion adds a new Act to the story, along with new items and other things. The major thing that they changed in this expansion is the Passive Skill tree – they’ve revamped and remapped all of the nodes, resulting in players having to re-allocate their skill points, myself included.

While it was a bit of a bother, it was actually a blessing in disguise. I focused my points on doing more damage and having more life and I noticed a total change in how my witch, Rhuki, dished out the hurt. It was pretty awesome.

Prophecies

As I ascended “The Climb,” I ran into an interesting woman stuck in a cage. Her name is Navali – a soothsayer capable of delivering prophecies for the low, low cost of one Silver Coin.

Prophecies

Rescuing her from her prison and speaking to her in town allows the use of prophecies that can change your character’s future and cause all sorts of interesting effects! I gave her the one coin I found prior to meeting her and thus gained a prophecy that I would run into Haku, the Forsaken Armourmaster, and will complete a task for him. Soon enough, I ran into the Master deep in the Lower Prison area!

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Well, isn’t this a coincidence? *wink wink*

Once again, he asked me to bring him a Karui spirit from a haunted cell within the prison. Once again, I entered the cell, obliterated the boss protecting the spirit and delivered it to him, gaining me a huge boost in reputation thanks to the prophecy!

I ended up finding a second Silver Coin after slaying a ton of monsters in the Prison and traded it in to get a prophecy where I’d earn a TON of loot from an enemy! Entering The Ship Graveyard, I spotted and vanquished the prophesized enemy yielding said promised loot.

Prophecy Fulfilled!

JACKPOT BABY!

Coincidentally when the monster full of loot appeared, I bumped into another Forsaken Master: Elreon the Loremaster.

The Loremaster

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A wild Forsaken Master appeared!

Eleron is something of a holy man; religion and relics are his modus operandi. The goal was to protect Eleron’s relic by defeating waves of enemies. As you can see above, I stood on their corpses, triumphant!

By keeping the relic safe, the Loremaster will sell and craft unique items in town, similar to Haku. His speciality is crafting amulets and rings.

Trial of Ascendancy – What Are Those?

Back in the Lower Prison, I had an opportunity to enter the first of many Trials of Ascendency. These trials are required to enter The Lord’s Labyrinth later in the game, which, when completed, allows the opportunity to ascend to a new class! Each trial acts as a practice arena for what Exiles should expect when entering the full Labyrinth. The first Trial deals with spike traps – not only do you have to be careful around them but you also have to consider timing, since the only way to get out of the trial is to go back to the start on foot.

Tips and Currency Watch

Here are a few tips and some items and currencies to keep an eye out for when you’re trying not to die:

  • Find some gear that increases the rarity of drops. These really help when you’re trying to find new, rare gear either for yourself or to trade with vendors or players.
  • Open as many chests, barrels and boxes as you can see. You may find some crafting orbs if you’re lucky!
  • Jeweller’s Orbs: These are uncommon crafting orbs that can randomly change the number of sockets on an item. Save these for when you get a great quality weapon or armour; the higher the quality and the greater the item level, the better the chances that you’ll get more sockets!
  • Divination Cards: Trading in multiples of a single card will yield crafting orbs or other items! Keep your eyes peeled for them!

Looking for some of the aforementioned items? Be sure to check out the Path of Exile Items store at Playerauctions.com: they have a wide selection at a reasonable cost, and all transactions are safe and secure.

Hope you enjoyed today’s play-through post! Stay tuned for the next play-through later in October! For now, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” wishing you Exiles good fortune on the battlefield and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

Clash Royale: Decks, Tips and Tricks to Help Conquer the Arena

Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” Hope you’ve got you’re game face on, because today I’m going to share with you some tips, tricks, decks and strategies on my favourite mobile game: Clash Royale!


If you haven’t realized it already, Clash has kind of become an obsession of mine. These days however, I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with it. Partially because I’ve been on a losing streak of late, partially because I’m hovering between arenas due to said losing streak and mostly because I get matched with opponents that completely decimate my deck strategy…

The good thing that’s been keeping my spirits up is the new 2v2 Mode, introduced over the summer! This mode works like a tag-team match: you and a clan member (or a random person) vs. another pair of battlers. First pair to destroy the other sides towers is the victor! Naturally, four people sharing an arena gets incredibly chaotic and that chaos can either help or hinder you based on your’s or your partner’s actions. It’s a great addition to an already good game and I recommend that you try it when it returns this week! It’s especially fun when you and your friends are in the same clan together; best friends sometimes make the best teammates!

Despite my frustrations at Clash, I’ve discovered a couple of tricks and made a few awesome decks to both help keep me in the win column and to help my clan with the weekly Clan Chest and 2v2 events. Without further ado, I’ll start off by sharing a couple of my favourite decks and strategies to use them.


My Favourite Decks and Strategies

Going from Arena 7 (Royal Arena) to Arena 8 (Frozen Peak) was a slog for me. My go-to deck with Lava Hound and Balloon (LavaLoon) just wasn’t cutting it, so I needed to make a new deck.

Sometimes, special chest offers appear in the shop. If you have gold or gems to burn, this would be a good opportunity to use them. In one case, I opened up a Legendary Chest, which can contain a Legendary card from any Arena and lo and behold I got the Lumberjack!

This guy is a badass: swings hard and fast and leaves behind a Rage effect (increases attack, movement and summon speed) when defeated.

And so (with help from the online deck building database), I built a deck around the Lumberjack and Balloon that can be described as insanely fast and extremely defensive.

Do you see that average?!

Brings new meaning to the phrase “Fast and the Furious”

The main strategy entails the use of the Ice Golem as the tank, followed by the Lumberjack placed behind the Golem to get to the tower. Once there, I summon the Balloon; the Lumberjack at this point is either nearly dead or all dead, at which he drops the Rage bottle, speeding up my Balloon and finishing off the tower before the opponent can counter.

Speaking of counters, I employ the use of my trusty sidekick: the Fireball as well as the Zap card. Defensive counters include the use of Skeletons (not the army, just the four three of them), the Ice Spirit and Ice Golem and the Minions. All in all, this deck clocks in at an average elixir cost of 2.8, meaning that I can cycle through cheap cards to build up my defense while waiting for the right opportunity to launch my counter-attack.

It’s not without its weaknesses though: The Executioner’s axe throwing can really mess up this strategy in a heartbeat. Plus, with no buildings to protect my towers, I’m potentially leaving myself open to the dreaded Hog Rider (the name and high-pitched cry of “Hog Riiiider!” may not inspire much dread, but he’s OP for a good reason: he decimates towers with ease). Finally, while this deck is speedy, it still requires a bit of patience and great timing to use; jumping the gun will result in you getting annihilated very quicky, so if patience is not part of your play style, then this deck isn’t for you.

After reaching Jungle Arena (Arena 9), I found that my LumberLoon deck wasn’t cutting it either (Mainly because players with Executioner’s kept cutting me down to size…). However, I got lucky and won a Legendary Chest from battling! It took a whole day, but I recieved this sneaky beauty upon opening it:

Hellooooo Thief!

With help from my brother from another mother, fellow clanmate and favourite 2v2 partner, Anthony, (who is also my go-to person regarding Clash), I built myself an awesome, winning deck centered around the Bandit, Battle Ram and the Witch:

The Dream Team

Depending on what cards I start out with, I lead off with the Witch and the Knight in the back, the Knight acting as both a tank to protect my Witch AND a way to invest elixir. Reading the situation on the other side of the field, I either counter attack with my trusty Fireball, Minions or Tombstone while I regroup my forces, or drop the big guns with the Battle Ram and Log, followed closely behind with the Bandit, who acts as cleanup. This deck is quite versatile, but again, requires patience and the ability to read the opponent’s battle strategy in order to counter.

If my Knight or Witch isn’t in my starting lineup, I either play defensive by using the Tombstone or the Bandit or go on an early offense with the Log and Battle Ram. Sometimes, these moves can completely occupy my opponent’s attention, leaving me free to set up my strategy above.

Even winning decks like this one have their weaknesses: in my case, the Baby Dragon (especially at higher levels) can be a troublesome pest. Also, I notice a lot of players in later arenas throwing down the Golem card in the back and waiting until it reaches the bridge before launching a full-on assault. This deck makes it difficult but not impossible to defend against such a push. Again, the Hog Rider is a threat, along with the aforementioned Golem. Their effects can be mitigated by the Tombstone and other support units.


Additional Tips and Tricks

In my current deck, using the Knight as an attacking tank reduces the effectiveness of a lot of popular cards used in the meta, such as Executioner, Valkyrie, Witch, Bandit and Ice, Electro and normal Wizards (all three are my arch-nemeses). This is especially apparent when he’s backed up by the Witch or Bandit or support cards like Minions and spawning buildings like Tombstone. Sometimes a tank that can attack troops can be more effective than a traditional tank, such as the Giant – keep that in mind as you build and develop your deck strategy.

Also, another tip I have is to have faith in your troops and your towers.

Believe in the Heart of the Ca- Oh wait, wrong series. (Image from Kokorononaka)

I’m sure you’ve made the following mistakes as well: dropping several troops to dispatch one enemy attacking your tower, or dropping support troops just as one of your guys takes out a tough unit. While it may look like you’re up in the numbers, you’re actually suffering a net elixir loss (you’re opponent will have more elixir than you do), meaning that if he or she starts a big push, you may not have enough elixir to counter it.

Instead, drop a single unit and let both it and your tower take care of the enemy, unless it’s a big push. If your opponent drops another unit, play something you’re confident will effectively counter it and let it be. It’s a good way to save up your elixir without wasting it.

A caveat to the above is to try and use cards that have a lower elixir cost than then the card your opponent plays. A good example would be if your opponent plays the Minion Horde (5 elixir cost) and you counter with the Fireball (4 elixir cost) or Arrows (3 elixir cost). Thanks to the effective counter, you would now have one or two more elixir than your opponent would. Even the Knight and Bandit in my deck, or other cards such as Mega Minion or Valkyrie, can effectively counter some of the more powerful cards, like the Wizards or Elite Barbarians for instance, and save you elixir while doing so. It’s therefore very important to keep costs in mind while battling in order to maintain a positive net elixir gain.

My final tips for this post are to pay attention and keep a mid-cost, mid-damage spell card in handy. Towards the end of a match, all kinds of craziness will ensue; your opponent will try to make a big push or defend your own push, while you will try to do the same. Somewhere along the way, one of your troops may break through and start wailing on the enemy tower, bringing it down to between 200-300 hitpoints before they die; perfect range to launch a couple of spell cards and end the match. At this point though, you might not be paying attention because you’re focusing all your efforts into defending your own tower. You clear the field using a Fireball or Lightning, hoping that will stop that push only to find that your opponent drops a surprise attack on the other side of the field or uses a Lightning of their own, leaving you unable to counter and costing you the match. You’d take a look at your opponents tower and kick yourself, because you could’ve ended the match thirty seconds ago.

It’s happened to me more than once.

The moral of the story here is to both monitor your opponents remaining health and to have a spell card or two handy to end the match. It makes a big difference having a clutch spell card that can either keep you in the game for the overtime match, or grant your victory.


So, there you have it! With these decks, strategies and tips in your arsenal, you’ll dominate the arena for sure! If you got suggestions on further tips or decks/deck strategies you’d like to share, drop a line in the comments below.

On the next edition, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the Nintendo Switch and I’ll tell you if the hype generated in the last six months since its release has lived up to my expectations of the system.

For now, this is Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!