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Bet Tip Win : Best Tips of The Day Win Guaranteed by Predictions365 30 June

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From Iron in beta to double Diamond this week - what I've learned... sorry, no hype fragmovie

Main account to D2
Second account to D1


I'm just an average dude with average aim and average scores. This isn't a pro guide, just a compilation of tips and observations I made for myself that can help regular players with very average skills such as myself. You can skip the history part if you're not interested.


I've never really been great at FPS in general. I never played any cs, but I played lots of BF4, BF1 and Apex. I played a little Overwatch and some COD Warzone as well but all these games seemed to lack something. That something, I found in Valorant. When I got in the Beta, I was super excited until I realized... I sucked.
I started out as Iron 1 and it took me a month to get out of Iron. I then somehow quickly made it all the way to gold 1 before the end of beta. I then flopped around between gold 1 and plat 1 all throughout Act I. During this act, I started climbing more and more consistently, from gold 1 at the start, to diamond 2 currently (with my act rank as D1 currently).
Also, I should mention I used to always play with my friends, most of the time duo queuing but also stacking up to five regularly. Out of all my friends, I was never the best, they were always the ones top-fragging and popping off more than I ever did BUT I also rarely bottom fragged. About a month ago, I stopped playing with them and only ever solo queued from then on. After that, I noticed a significant improvement in my gameplay and my rank followed along as I went from gold 2 to diamond 2 which is like going from the 55th percentile to the 95th percentile.
Finally, I made a "smurf" account in Act I for when I wanted to play alone. That account has been exactly the same rank as my main since the start of Act II even though it has 10x fewer games. I also kept playing on my "smurf" after ditching my friends but only when I was feeling like I was having an off-day and didn't want to sink my rank on my main but somehow both my ranks evolved at the same pace and both hit diamond within 4 days from one another.
Anyway, here's what I learned:

General advice

  1. Try to solo queue. Every player has habits, and this often causes people who duo regularly to get used to each other's playstyle, which leads them to cater to each other's habits. This locks you down in a certain playstyle and very often prevents you from trying new strats or simply developing new skills which makes you less flexible and causes you to get absolutely smashed when someone figures you out. By solo queuing you'll be forced to play along with more different types of players without having the option to rely on your friend for whatever reason.
  2. Don't think you have to carry every game. This is the reason I included both my screenshots. You can clearly see that I VERY RARELY top frag, yet manage to win very consistently. I'll talk about it in the macromechanics section because a part of this success is in how I play, and the other part of it is in the mindset. This is all about the attitude. We've all had moments where we get absolutely shit on for 5 straight rounds and it feels like we've excreted our will to live but this is not a reason to give up or start trying to play funky games. Keep trying. Legit close your eyes for 15 seconds during the buy phase, take deep breaths and let go of your attachment to the outcome. Which leads me to my next point:
  3. Stop paying attention to the scoreboard. I personally do this, and I know a lot of people also do this. You'll look at the scoreboard and see yourself sitting at 0-6 and tilt, or you'll see yourself at 6-0 while your sentinel is on 1-7 and tilt. Stop. Don't. Your score, or someone else's score, isn't an indication of how useful you/they are. Even if you're "playing like shit" because you're not hitting your headshots, doesn't mean you can't be useful.
  4. Don't be toxic. I know right? Like that needed to be said! Well, I think it needs to be said. Too many of you are toxic without realizing it. That's because you don't go nuclear, but instead just sneak in passive-aggressive remarks that intoxicate your teammates and make them tilt. There's no need to sarcastically congratulate your teammate for finally getting their first kill on 7th round. They know more than you what went wrong and you pointing it out only antagonizes them, it distracts them (as they think of what snarky comment they can make next time you die) and makes them spectate you every time they die (so like, every round) just looking for what mistakes you can make that they can burn you for. It's always better to say something positive and reassuring like "good job, don't worry about the early game, we got this" than something inflammatory. This makes a huge difference in your odds of winning. Playing 5v5 is a whole lot easier than 4v5.
  5. Communicate. Pass the info along, let your team know what you see, tell them your intention. Way too many times do people stay silent and say things like "look at your minimap, are you blind?". This isn't a moba with a low TTK like LoL, here, you often have to hold angles where if you even get your eyes off your crosshair for just a quarter of a second, you're dead. In a tactical shooter like this, for equal skill, the team with the better coms will win 99% of the time. The more useful information your team has, the better their decision-making is going to be.
  6. Dodge. I know this one is going to be controversial but it has to be said. Don't be afraid to dodge lobbies that don't feel quite right. The quickest dodge? 4-stacks with large rank disparities. They are not a good bet, ever. First of all, because they're highly likely to be on discord just talking with each other and not sharing info with you. Secondly, because they're unavoidably going to be toxic towards you the minute something goes wrong. And finally, because (as far as I know) the system assumes that 4 stacks are supposed to be more coordinated, it'll place you against a better team of solos overall. But 4-stacks suck. They're not coordinated, they're just friends that decided to play together and who are kind of just doing their own thing anyways.The other times I dodge is when I'm alone at three divisions above everyone else. These are usually kill-race duels between you and the other team's highest rank, just competitions of who can carry the hardest. Also, and this isn't confirmed info but pretty much all elo systems in the world work like that: being the highest rank means you're a candidate for lesser elo gains on a win and greater elo losses in defeat. It's a high-risk, low-reward situation, it's boring and I'm so glad that they announced that they will restrain the rank division gap that people can queue with in ranked because I cannot stand another Diamond 1 player telling me "it's ok bro, trust me he's gold 1 but he's really good for his rank".
  7. Get the right mindset. You're not better than your rank shows, winning doesn't mean you played well and ranking up doesn't mean you're better overall. Assume you can improve and focus on improving - not winning. Caring more about the outcome than about the process won't get you anywhere.


  1. Pay attention to the scoreboard. I know I literally just told you the opposite, but this time it's for different reasons.A) Look at the money and make sure to manage your team's econ (e.g. if someone is about to bust the 9k limit, have them buy for a teammate with low money). This probably seems obvious to most of you, but managing your econ is something I've seen diamonds do much better at than golds. Even plat players will sometimes be selfish and not say anything even if they should offer to drop someone. This isn't a major game-changer, but it definitely helps and it's super easy to implement.B) Look at the enemy team's econ. You can eventually predict who's gonna have a shotgun, when Jett's gonna ult, which opponent has util, etc. This will help your decision making down the road and can easily win you rounds.
  2. Don't think you have to carry every game part 2. As shown above, I rarely top frag, yet consistently win. This is because I always play for the round, not the frags. I do my best to look for plays that give my teams opportunities, space, time or info. You can do things such as splitting up the opposing team with util, forcing someone to watch the flank, creating distractions, scouting, flanking, etc. Each of those techniques probably could have their own youtube tutorial and I'm sure there are a bunch out there, but I mostly learned these from watching pros and asking myself why they do what they do.The one thing all these techniques have in common is they require you to stay alive. If you're trying to flank and aggressively challenge enemies and go for kills and die, you're giving the opposing team opportunities to win. If you see a hard push coming to your site and decide to stand your ground and die without being traded, it's bad even if you get a kill. It's (almost) always better to retreat and use util to delay the push until someone can support you. I won't go through every situation, but the general idea is STAY ALIVE and give your team a chance to support you or at least trade you/utilize your death.
  3. Play for the round, not the frags. I mean as a duelist, enter on site first and create space for your team, even if that means dying. As a sentinel or controller, make sure to follow your duelists, support them and place yourself in situations where you can trade them when they go in.Stop trying to get free kills on the rotation while your team is trying to take a site, all it does is pad your kda and boost your ego. It doesn't mean you can't look for rotation kills or flanks while your team fakes a site, but if they commit to a site you need to stop sitting in a corner trying to get a free kill from across the map. Especially if you're the duelist or breach that the team needs in order to enter on site.
  4. Learn how to play for retake with your specific character. Very often, you can secure half the site for your team, which creates space for your team to retake the site after a plant. For example, if you're Brimstone on bind A site, smoking off u-hall and mollying the entrance as the opposing team commits to site almost guarantees that you can keep control of it while they plant, which significantly reduces the number of angles your team has to check before going for the defuse. Similar plays are available for a lot of champions, the key is staying alive and holding the amount of ground you can. It's very often better than to peek, maybe get a kill and then die and force your team to retake blindly while having to check every angle possible.


There's a million small things like don't run after faking the defuse because it'll tell your opponents that you didn't stick it, or don't slow peak around key corners, or don't not hit your shots, etc. But honestly, I suck. I'm not good at micromechanics.
The one thing I started actively practicing which has significantly improved my results is crosshair placement. This is something that I feel is the biggest most significant improvement most people can make in a very short amount of time that will net them a lot more kills. Just put your crosshair where you think the adversary is going to be before you peek around a corner instead of slowly turning around the corner. When holding an angle, put your crosshair where you think the adversary's head is going to be when he peeks out of a corner. You'd be surprised how many more kills you get just by using pure reflex instead of having to actually aim.
Anyway! I hope this helps someone!
Edit: Woah that's a whole lot of awards! Thank you guys, I didn't expect that!
Something else I should mention that I forgot: Don't overplay. I rarely do more than 3 games a day and I take at least 5-10 mins between games. This is a rhythm that works for me, maybe it's more or less for you, but chaining back-to-back games for hours on end never yielded great results for me. Just getting up and getting the blood moving a little bit helps a lot.
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Roulette pro tip: If you bet a little bit on every number you are guaranteed to win

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On Spells and Society, or how 5e spells completely change everyone's lives.

Today i have a confession to make: i'm a little bit of a minmaxer. And honestly, i think that's a pretty desirable trait in a DM. The minmaxer knows the rules, and exploits them to maximum efficiency.
"But wait, what does that have to do with spell use in society?" - someone, probably.
Well, the thing is that humans are absolutely all about minmaxing. There's a rule in the universe that reads "gas expands when hot", and suddenly we have steam engines (or something like that, i'm a political scientist not an engineer). A rule says 1+1 = 2, and suddenly we have calculus, computers and all kinds of digital stuff that runs on math. Sound is energy? Let's convert that shit into electricity, run it through a wire and turn it back into sound on the other side.
Bruh. Science is just minmaxing the laws of nature. Humanity in real life is just a big bunch of munchkins, and it should be no different in your setting.
And that is why minmaxing magic usage is something societies as a whole would do, specially with some notable spells. Today i will go in depth on how and why each of these notable mentions has a huge impact on a fantasy society.
We'll go from lowest level to highest, keeping in mind that the lower level a spell the more common it should be to find someone who has it, so often a level 2-3 spell will have more impact than a level 9 spell.

Mending (cantrip).
Repair anything in one minute. Your axe lost its edge? Tore your shirt? Just have someone Mend it.
Someone out there is crying "but wait! Not every village has a wizard!" and while that is true, keep in mind any High Elf knows a cantrip, as can any Variant Human.
A single "mender" could replace a lot of the work a smith, woodworker or seamstress does, freeing their time to only work on making new things rather than repair old ones.

Prestidigitation (cantrip).
Clean anything in six seconds. Committed axe murders until the axe got blunt, and now there's blood everywhere? Dog shit on your pillow out of spite? Someone walked all over the living room with muddy boots? Just Prestidigitate it away.
This may look like a small thing, but its actually huge when you apply it to laundry. Before washing machines were a thing housewives had to spend several hours a week washing them manually, and with Prestidigitation you can just hire someone to get it done in a few minutes.
A single "magic cleaner" can attend to several dozen homes, if not hundreds, thus freeing several hours of the time of dozens of women.
Fun fact: there's an interesting theory that says feminism only existed because of laundry machines and similar devices. Women found themselves having more free time, which they used to read and socialize. Educated women with more contacts made for easy organization of political movements, and the fact men were now able to do "the women's work" by pushing a button meant men were less opposed to losing their housewives' labor. Having specialized menders and magic cleaners could cause a comparable revolution in a fantasy setting, and help explain why women have a similar standing to men even in combat occupations such as adventuring.

Healing in general (1st-2nd level).
This one is fairly obvious. A commoner has 4 hit points, that means just about any spell is a full heal to the average person. That means most cuts, stab wounds, etc. can be solved by the resident cleric. Even broken bones that would leave you in bed for months can be solved in a matter of seconds as soon as the holy man arrives.
But that's nothing compared to the ability to cure diseases. While the only spell that can cure diseases is Lesser Restoration, which is second level, a paladin can do it much more easily with just a Lay on Hands. This means if one or two people catch a disease it can just be eradicated with a touch.
However doing that comes with a cost. If everyone is instantly expunged of illness, the populace does not build up their immune systems. Regular disease becomes less common, sure, but whenever it is reintroduced (by, say, immigrants or contact with less civilized humanoids) it can spread like wildfire, afflicting people so fast that no amount of healers will have the magic juice to deal with it.
Diseases become rare, plagues become common.

Continual Flame (2nd).
Ok, this one is a topic i love and could easily be its own post.
There's an article called "Why the Falling Cost of Light Matters", which goes in detail about how man went from chopping wood for fire, to using animal fat for candles, then other oils, whale oil, kerosene, then finally incandescent light bulbs, and more recently LED lights. Each of these leaps is orders of grandeur more efficient than the previous one, to the point that the cost of light today is about 500,000 times cheaper than it was for for a caveman. And until the early 1900s the only way mankind knew of making light was to set things on fire.
Continual Flame on the other hand allows you to turn 50gp worth of rubies and a 2nd level spell slot into a torch that burns forever. In a society that spends 60 hours of labor to be able to generate 140 minutes of light, this is a huge game changer.
This single spell, which i am 99% sure was just created as an excuse for why the dungeon is lit despite going for centuries without maintenance, allows you to have things like public lighting. Even if you only add a new "torchpost" every other week or month sooner or later you'll be left with a neatly lit city, specially if the city has had thousands of years in which to gather the rubies and light them up.
And because the demand of rubies becomes so important, consider how governments would react. Lighting the streets is a public service, if its strategically relevant to make the city safer at night, would that not warrant some restrictions on ruby sales? Perhaps even banning the use of rubies in jewelry?
Trivia: John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in history, gained his wealth selling kerosene. Kerosene at the time was used to light lamps. Gasoline was invented much later, when Rockefeller tasked a bunch of scientists to come up with a use for some byproducts of the kerosene production. This illustrates how much money is to be had in the lighting industry, and you could even have your own Rockefeller ruby baron in your game. I shall call him... Dohn J. Stonebreaker. Perfect name for a mining entrepreneur.
Whether the ruby trade ends up a monopoly under the direct supervision of the king or a free market, do keep in mind that Continual Flame is by far the most efficient way of creating light.

Gentle Repose (2nd).
Cast it on a corpse, and it stays preserved for 10 days.
This has many potential uses, from preserving foodstuffs (hey, some rare meats are expensive enough to warrant it) to keeping the bodies of old rulers preserved. Even if a ruler died of old age and cannot be resurrected, the body could be kept "fresh" out of respect/ceremony. Besides, it keeps the corpse from becoming undead.

Skywrite (2nd).
Ok, this one is mostly a gag. While the spell can be used by officials to make official announcements to the populace, such as new laws or important news, i like to just use it for spam. I mean, its a ritual spell that writes a message on the sky; what else would people use it for?
Imagine you show up in a city, and there's half a dozen clouds reading "buy at X, we have what you need", "get your farming supplies over at Joe's store" or "vote Y for the city council".
The possibilities are endless, and there's no way the players can expect it. Just keep in mind that by RAW the spell can only do words, meaning no images. No Patrick, "8===D" is not a word.

Zone of Truth (2nd).
This one is too obvious. Put all suspects of a crime into a ZoT, wait a couple minutes to make sure they fail the save, then ask each one if he did it. Sure its not a perfect system, things like the Ring of Mind Shielding still exist, but it's got a better chance of getting the right guy than most medieval justice systems. And probably more than a few contemporary ones. All while taking only a fraction of the time.
More importantly, with all the average crimes being handled instantly, the guards and investigators have more time to properly investigate the more unusual crimes that might actually involve a Thought Shield, Ring of Mind Shielding or a level 17 Mastermind.
There is a human rights argument against messing with people's minds in any way, which is why this may not be practiced in every kingdom. But there are definitely some more lawful societies that would use ZoT on just about every crime.
Why swear to speak the truth and nothing but the truth when you can just stand in a zone of truth?
Another interesting use for ZoT is oaths. When someone is appointed into an office, gets to a high rank in the military or a guild, just put them in a ZoT while they make their oath to stand for the organization's values and yadda yadda. Of course they can be corrupted later on, but at least you make sure they're honest when they are sworn in.

Sending (3rd).
Sending is busted in so many ways.
The more "vanilla" use of it is to just communicate over long distances. We all know that information is important, and that sometimes getting information a whole day ahead can lead to a 40% return on a massive two-year investment. Being able to know of invasions, monsters, disasters, etc. without waiting days or weeks for a courier can be vital for the survival of a nation. Another notable example is that one dude who ran super fast for a while to be the first to tell his side of a recent event.
But the real broken thing here is... Sending can Send to any creature, on any plane; the only restriction being "with which you are familiar". In D&D dead people just get sent to one of the afterlife planes, meaning that talking to your dead grandfather would be as simple as Sending to him. Settling inheritance disputes was never easier!
Before moving on to the next point let me ask you something: Is a cleric familiar with his god? Is a warlock familiar with his patron?

Speak With Dead (3rd).
Much like Sending, this lets you easily settle disputes. Is the senate/council arguing over a controversial topic? Just ask the beloved hero or ruler from 200 years ago what he thinks on the subject. As long his skeleton still has a jaw (or if he has been kept in Gentle Repose), he can answer.
This can also be used to ask people who killed them, except murderers also know this. Plan on killing someone? Accidentally killed someone? Make sure to inutilize the jaw. Its either that, being so stealthy the victim can't identify you, or being caught.

Note on spell availability.
Oh boy. No world-altering 4th level spells for some reason, and suddenly we're playing with the big boys now.
Spells up to 3rd level are what I'd consider "somewhat accessible", and can be arranged for a fee even for regular citizens. For instance the vanilla Priest statblock (MM348) is a 5th level cleric, and the standard vanilla Druid (MM346) a 4th level druid.
Spells of 5th level onward will be considered something only the top 1% is able to afford, or large organizations such as guilds, temples or government.

Dream (5th).
I was originally going to put Dream along with Sending and Telepathy as "long range communication", but decided against it due to each of them having unique uses.
And when it comes to Dream, it has the unique ability of allowing you to put your 8 hours of sleep to good use. A tutor could hire someone to cast Dream on him, thus allowing him to teach his student for 8 hours at any distance. This is a way you could even access hermits that live in the middle of nowhere or in secluded monasteries. Very wealthy families or rulers would be willing to pay a good amount of money to make sure their heirs get that extra bit of education.
Its like online classes, but while you sleep!
Another interesting use is for cheating. Know a princess or queen you like? She likes you back? Her dad put 400 trained soldiers between you? No problemo! Just find a 9th level Bard, Warlock or Wizard, but who am i kidding, of course it'll be a bard. And that bard is probably you. Now you have 8 hours to do whatever you want, and no physical evidence will be left.

Raise Dead (5th).
Few things matter more in life than death. And the ability to resurrect people has a huge impact on society. The impact is so huge that this topic needs topics of its own.
First, diamond monopoly. Remember what i said about how Continual Flame would lead to controlled ruby sales due to its strategic value? This is the same principle, but a hundred times stronger. Resurrection is a huge strategic resource. It makes assassinations harder, can be used to bring back your officials or highest level soldiers over and over during a war, etc. This means more authoritarian regimes would do everything within their power to control the supply and stock of diamonds. Which in turn means if anyone wants to have someone resurrected, even in times of peace, they'll need to call in a favor, do a quest, grease some hands...
Second, resurrection insurance. People hate risks. That's why insurance is such a huge industry, taking up about 15% of the US GDP. People insure their cars, houses... even their lives. Resurrection just means "life insurance" is taken more literally. This makes even more sense when you consider how expensive resurrection is: nobody can afford it in one go, but if you pay a little every month or year you can save up enough to have it done when the need arises.
This is generally incompatible with the idea of a State-run monopoly over diamonds, but that just means different countries within a setting can take different approaches.
To make things easier, i even used some microeconomics to make a sheet in my personal random generators to calculate the price of such a service. Just head to the "Insurance" tab and fill in the information relative to your setting.
With actual life insurance resurrection can cost as little as 5gp a year for humans or 8sp a year for elves, making resurrection way more affordable than it looks.
Also, do you know why pirates wore a single gold earring? It was so that if your body washes up on the shore whoever finds it can use the money to arrange a proper burial. Sure there's a risk of the finder taking it and walking away, but the pirates did it anyway. With resurrection in play, might as well just wear a diamond earring instead and hope the finder is nice enough to bring you back.
I got so carried away with the whole insurance thing i almost forgot: the possibility of resurrection also changes how murders are committed.
If you want someone dead but resurrection exists, you have to remove the vital organs. Decapitation would be far more common. Sure resurrection is still possible, but it requires higher level spells or Reincarnate, which has... quirks.
As a result it should be very obvious when someone was killed by accident or an overreaction, and when someone was specifically out to kill the victim.

Scrying (5th).
This one is somewhat obvious, in that everyone and their mother knows it helps finding people. But who needs finding? Well, that would be those who are hiding.
The main use i see for this spell, by far, is locating escaped criminals. Just collect a sample of hair or blood when arresting someone (or shipping them to hard labor which is way smarter), and if they escape you'll be almost guaranteed to successfully scry on them.
A similar concept to this is seen in the Dragon Age series. If you're a mage the paladins keep a sample of your blood in something called a phylactery, and that can be used to track you down. There's even a quest or two about mages trying to destroy their phylacteries before escaping.
Similarly, if you plan a jailbreak it would be highly beneficial to destroy the blood/hair sample first. As a matter of fact i can even see a thieves guild hiring a low level party to take out the sample while the professional infiltrators get the prisoner out. Keep in mind both events must be done at the same time, otherwise the guards will just collect a new sample or would have already taken it to the wizard.
But guards aren't the only ones with resources. A loan shark could keep blood samples of his debtors, a mobster can keep one of those who owe him favors, etc. And the blood is ceremoniously returned only when the debt is fully paid.

Teleportation Circle (5th), Transport Via Plants (6th).
In other words, long range teleportation. This is such a huge thing that it is hard to properly explain how important it is.
Teleportation Circle creates a 10ft. circle, and everyone has one round to get in and appear on the target location. Assuming 30ft. movement that means you can get 192 people through, which is a lot of potential merchants going across any distance. Or 672 people dashing.
Math note: A 30ft radius square around a 10ft. diameter square, minus the 4 original squares. Or [(6*2+2)^2]-4 squares of 5ft. each. Hence 192 people.
Getting hundreds of merchants, workers, soldiers, etc. across any distance is nothing to scoff at. In fact, it could help explain why PHB item prices are so standardized: Arbitrage is so easy and cheap that price differences across multiple markets become negligible. Unless of course countries start setting up tax collectors outside of the permanent teleportation circles in order to charge tariffs.
Transport Via Plants does something very similar but it requires 5ft of movement to go through, which means less people can be teleported. On the other hand it doesn't burn 50gp and can take you to any tree the druid is familiar with, making it nearly impossible for tax collectors to be waiting on the other side. Unfortunately druids tend to be a lot less willing to aid smugglers, so your best bet might be a bard using spells that don't belong to his list.
With these methods of long range teleportation not only does trade get easier, but it also becomes possible to colonize or inhabit far away places. For instance if someone finds a gold mine in the antarctic you could set up a mine and bring food and other supplies via teleportation.

Major Image (6th level slot).
Major Image is a 3rd level spell that creates an illusion over a 20ft cube, complete with image, sound, smell and temperature. When cast with a 6th level slot or higher, it lasts indefinitely.
That my friends, is a huge spell. Why get the world's best painter to decorate the ceiling of your cathedral when you can just get an illusion made in six seconds?
The uses for decorating large buildings is already good, but remember: we're not restricted to sight.
Cast this on a room and it'll always be cool and smell nice. Inns would love that, as would anyone who always sleeps or works in the same room. Desert cities have never been so chill.
You can even use an illusion to make the front of your shop seem flashier, while hollering on loop to bring customers in.
The only limit to this spell is your imagination, though I'm pretty sure it was originally made just to hide secret passages.
Trivia: the ki-rin (VGM163) can cast Major Image as a 6th level spell, at will. It's probably meant to give them fabulous lairs yet all it takes is someone doing the holy horsey a big favor, and it could enchant the whole city in a few hours. Shiniest city on the planet, always at a nice temperature and with a fragrance of lilac, gooseberries or whatever you want.

Simulacrum (7th).
Spend 12 hours and 1500gp worth of ruby dust, and get a clone of yourself. Notably, each caster can only have one simulacrum, regardless of who the person he cloned is.
How this changes the world? By allowing the rich and powerful to be in two places at once. Kings now have a perfect impersonator who thinks just like them. A wealthy banker can run two branches of his company. Etc.
This makes life much easier, but also competes with Continual Flame over resources.
It also gives "go fuck yourself" a whole new meaning, making the sentence a valid Suggestion.

Clone (8th).
If there's one spell i despise, its Clone.
Wizard-only preemptive resurrection. Touch spell, costs 1.000gp worth of diamonds each time, takes 120 days to come into effect, and creates a copy of the creature that the soul occupies if the original dies. Oh, and the copy can be made younger.
Why is it so despicable? Because it makes people effectively immortal. Accidents and assassinations just get you sent to the clone, and old age can be forever delayed because you keep going back to younger versions of yourself. Being a touch spell means the wizard can cast it on anyone he wants.
In other words: high level wizards, and only wizards, get to make anyone immortal.
That means wizards will inevitably rule any world in which this spell exists.
Think about it. Rulers want to live forever. Wizards can make you live forever. Wizards want other stuff, which you must give them if you want to continue being Cloned. Rulers who refuse this deal eventually die, rulers who accept stick around forever. Natural selection makes it so that eventually the only rulers left are those who sold their soul to wizards. Figuratively, i hope.
The fact that there are only a handful of wizards out there who are high enough level to cast the spell means its easier for them organize and/or form a cartel or union (cartels/unions are easier to maintain the fewer suppliers are involved).
This leads to a dystopian scenario where mages rule, kings are authoritarian pawns and nobody else has a say in anything. Honestly it would make for a fun campaign in and of itself, but unless that's specifically what you're going for it'll just derail everything else.
Oh, and Clone also means any and all liches are absolute idiots. Liches are people who turned themselves into undead abominations in order to gain eternal life at the cost of having to feed on souls. They're all able to cast 9th level wizard spells, so why not just cast an 8th level one and keep undeath away? Saves you the trouble of going after souls, and you keep the ability to enjoy food or a day in the sun.

Demiplane (8th).
Your own 30ft. room of nothingness. Perfect place for storage and a DM's nightmare given how once players have access to it they'll just start looting furniture and such. Oh the horror.
But alas, infinite storage is not the reason this is a broken spell. No sir.
Remember: you can access someone else's demiplane. That means a caster in city 1 can put things into a demiplane, and a caster in city 2 can pull them out of any surface.
But wait, there's more! There's nothing anywhere saying you can't have two doors to the same demiplane open at once. Now you're effectively opening a portal between two places, which stays open for a whole hour.
But wait, there's even more! Anyone from any plane can open a door to your neat little demiplane. Now we can get multiple casters from multiple planes connecting all of those places, for one hour. Sure this is a very expensive thing to do since you're having to coordinate multiple high level individuals in different planes, but the payoff is just as high. We're talking about potential integration between the most varied markets imaginable, few things in the multiverse are more valuable or profitable. Its a do-it-yourself Sigil.
One little plot hook i like about demiplanes is abandoned/inactive ones. Old wizard/warlock died, and nobody knows how to access his demiplanes. Because he's at least level 15 you just know there's some good stuff in there, but nobody can get to it. Now the players have to find a journal, diary, stored memory or any other way of knowing enough about the demiplane to access it.

True Polymorph (9th).
True Polymorph. The spell that can turn any race into any other race, or object. And vice-versa. You can go full fairy godmother and turn mice into horses. For a spell that can change anything about one's body it would not be an unusual ruling to say it can change one's sex. At the very least it can turn a man into a chair, and the chair into a woman (or vice-versa of course).
But honestly, that's just the tip of the True Polymorph iceberg. Just read this more carefully:
> You transform the creature into a different creature, the creature into a nonmagical object, or the object into a creature
This means you can turn a rock or twig into a human. A fully functional human with, as far as the rules go, a soul. You can create life.
But wait, there's more! Nothing there says you have to turn the target into a known creature on an existing creature. The narcissist bard wants to create a whole race of people who look like him? True Polymorph. A player wants to play a weird ass homebrew race and you have no idea how it would fit into the setting? True Polymorph. Wizard needs a way to quickly populate a kingdom and doesn't want to wait decades for the subjects to grow up? True Polymorph. Warlock must provide his patron 100 souls in order to free his own? True Polymorph. The sorcerer wants to do something cool? Fuck that guy, sorcerers don't get any of the fun high level spells; True Poly is available to literally every arcane caster but the sorcerer.
Note: what good is Twinned Spell if all the high level twinnable spells have been specifically made unavailable to sorcerers?
Do keep in mind however that this brings a whole new discussion on human rights. Does a table have rights? Does it have rights after being turned into a living thing? If it had an owner, is it now a slave? Your country will need so many new laws, just to deal with this one spell.
People often say that high level wizards are deities for all intents and purposes. This is the utmost proof of that. Clerics don't get to create life out of thin air, wizards do. The cleric worships a deity, the wizard is the deity.

Intelligent creatures not only can game the system, but it is entirely in character for them to do so. I'll even argue that if humanoids don't use magic to improve their lives when it's available, you're pushing the suspension of disbelief.
With this post i hope to have helped you make more complex and realistic societies, as well as provide a few interesting and unusual plot hooks
Lastly, as much as i hate comment begging i must admit i am eager to see what spells other players think can completely change the world. Because at the end of the day we all know that extra d6 damage is not what causes empires to rise and fall, its the utility spells that make the best stories.

Edit: Added spell level to all spells, and would like to thank u/kaul_field for helping with finishing touches and being overall a great mod.
submitted by Isphus to DnDBehindTheScreen [link] [comments]

I never missed a day of smoking for 15 years. Now I’m 15 days clean. Yes, I’m “that guy” that nobody would expect to quit.

Impossible? I think not.

TLDR – This is the story of how nicotine controlled my life, and how I’m fighting back. The impossible is possible. I hope there are a few nuggets of information in here that may help anyone who needs it.

EDIT (for proper context) - To clarify, 2 packs every 3 days was what I was smoked as a freshman in high school, NOT when I quit smoking a few weeks ago. At the time of my quitting, I was smoking 3 vape pods every 2 days, in addition to 1 weed pod every 2-3 days. This is not safe and I would strongly advise against mixing nicotine & THC on a daily basis. It's just not good for you.


I smoked for 15 years – since I was a freshman in high school. I hung out with bad people, did drugs, then received cigarettes from my mom because it was the “significantly lesser of the evils”. I thought it was cool to be a “gangsta”. I thought it was cool to do hardcore drugs, as well as softer ones. I thought it was cool to throw away all that my parents did for me. Damn, how wrong I was.
2 packs every 3 days. Marlboro lights and reds. I smoked a lot, because nobody could stop me.
I’ve had asthma since I was young. During high school, I got good grades - 4.0 nearly every quarter. I played sports as well (wrestling, volleyball). But I kept smoking, kept hanging out with bad people, and kept making bad decisions. It continued through to college.
In college, I partied even harder. I went the social fraternity route, where they ONLY party. I got kicked out of college for bad grades, then went to a community college – where I smoked even more! Those were a good 3+ years of not doing shit – except for partying, smoking, and destroying my life.
Eventually, I made my way back to university - electrical engineering at a California State College. I still smoked a ton, and still partied. But upon getting back to university, I had to take a placement exam for math as an engineer, and I bombed that test so hard that they kicked my math down to remedial levels. To top that off, I failed my first engineering class back, and had severe math course requirements to make up in order to proceed even further. Long story short – if I thought I’d be done in 2 more years, I was wrong. I had a LONG and STRESSFUL way to go.
That simply means that it was a tough road - with lots of smoking. LOTS. And LOTS. Damn, it was a lot. I’d smoke between classes. I’d go for smoke breaks in classes. I reeked of smoke, and it wasn’t only nicotine that was being smoked. I was poisoning my lungs all day long.
When vapes came out, it got even worse. Now, I’d smoke anywhere and everywhere. Whether I’d be at home, at a friend’s house, or at school – I always had to get my fix. I was THAT GUY who smoked the most out of my friend group and everyone I knew. Vape just made this problem worse. In terms of nicotine though, first it was cigarettes, then both cigarettes and vape, then vape only.
Yup - I went through ALL the vape phases. You know, you start off with them eGos. Then you move up to something else, like a provari. Then you start becoming an expert at modding and “building wicks”. Oh, how they get you. As I kept going and going, vaping evolved to cannabis also, so you bet I was on that train. I’d use my inhaler sometimes between weed hits. I could feel myself getting anxiety from weed and nicotine and all this smoking. I went down a freaking spiral, and didn’t stop.
Heck, even if I was in a car with my FAMILY, going to a FAMILY dinner, I’d still vape in front of them. I was that messed up. I was that addicted. I was that guy.

Not me. I wouldn't have a picture of me smoking in front of family, but you get the point. Image Source: Rommel Canlas @ 123rf


Fast forward to 2015-2016, I decided engineering school was not for me. I decided that business was my passion. However, my mom begged me not to drop out of engineering school. And for business, the best time to start is always yesterday. So I started my business halfway through engineering school, and did these both at the same time. Do you know how stressful that was? Take whatever I was smoking before, and multiply it by 2. I could cry and feel tears in my eyes, when I think back to how much pain I was in during this period and how difficult this was.
If it was a non-school day, or if I was going HAM on my business, I’d be smoking all day. My room would literally, be a hotbox of just vape. The air in my home was became bad – because of me. At this point, I also withdrew a lot socially, in order to focus on these priorities of business and school. That led to even more stress, as I watched my friends slowly graduate one by one, party and have fun, and start really living life. Guess what more stress means. I don't even have to say it. Downward spiral much?

Not me, but my room was similarly smoked, lol. I wish I had pictures, sorry. Source: filomedia @ pond5

…………….…. but never mind that, I got priorities, right? ……………………………

My first business was a modification I made on an existing invention. It sold out 5 manufacturing runs and I still lost money. Oh wells, I’ll just smoke the pain away.
I started 2 other e-commerce stores after that, both of which failed due to issues where we could not get to making sales. More smoking.
Then the next store I built, somewhere around 2017 or so, we hit it off. I did 7 figures in sales within a year (sales, not profit – but still damn good though). Then, due to some bad business decisions and some suppliers bait/switching me, I lost it all. I watched my bank account, go from nothing… all the way to 6 figures… then back down to NEGATIVE 5 figures. And, it was a slow burn down also. Not a fast one. Believe me, I tried EVERYTHING I could to fix the business, but nothing was working at that time. Guess what – even MORE smoking. Now it was getting bad.
Mind you, I’m still in school also. And electrical engineering school is math heavy, which made things even more difficult because I hated math. But I persevered, whilst using nicotine to fuel myself. A poor decision that led me to smoke even more than I could imagine – now it was becoming a burden to smoke. However, at this point, my life was ecommerce, smoking, and school. ONLY. I literally became a “grandpa” and “turtle” and withdrew from a majority of social things. That means puff, puff, and puff.
I ended up building 2 other stores that failed after that. They were good stores, but they never took off. More smoking. I learned a LOT, but I smoked a lot as well.
Then I had a breakthrough. I partnered up with a friend who built a store but was not profitable on most days, and barely profitable on some days. We went 50/50 – and in 3 days of work I cut his advertising in half. I was ecstatic, and I was still smoking a lot. After a few more days, he decided to “ghost me” because we didn’t sign paperwork, as I trusted him. He basically said “I think this is something I have to do alone”, then went MIA (after I made his story very profitable). I lost it, and smoked even more from that stress.

Not me, but watch out, cool guy over here. Representation of me. Damn I was an idiot. Source: ERPNews

………………………… what a sucky story …………………….

Except I fought back.

I worked every hour I could (smoked every hour I could also, haha). He scammed me, but I learned a ton and started making breakthroughs. I kept grinding, kept smoking, kept grinding, kept smoking.
That experience gave me the insights and strength I needed to rebuild the right way. It was very stressful, very smokey, yes – but at the same time – it was what was needed to take me to the next level.
My health is important, and how can I possibly make an impact on the world if I’m smoking every minute I’m on this planet? Stuff just started clicking, not only in terms of business, but also in terms of beginning to think about the long term implications of smoking. Yeah, I was even that guy at the gym who would vape immediately as soon as I got out of the gym, on the way home, and after the post workout shower. I hated nicotine, but at the same time I couldn’t stop nicotine.

I’ll spare you guys the details, but fast forward a ton of work later, I’ve finally clawed my way out of rock bottom in business. My business has huge plans for 2021, and we’ve already done pretty good in 2020 and have made excellent progress. I am a learner, and every struggle makes me stronger. I’ve crawled out of my rock bottom hole, have rebuilt my business, and have really started focusing more on innovation and being the best option in the market for anything we sell. In a nutshell ~ doing business the right way, by way of innovation & domination.
I’d like to think that I am an inventor who had to learn how to market and sell. BUT, NO MATTER WHAT I THOUGHT, I KNEW FOR A FACT that I was also a smoker who had lost control of his life to nicotine. In order to succeed you must pay a “price” – but my health was the wrong “price” to pay. This was a skeleton in my closet that I had to conquer.

In the midst of this, I managed to barely scrape by and graduate with my electrical engineering degree, which I’ve just received this past summer. I hated every second of it. I smoked myself through everything I learned. But at least I finished it. Momma got what she wanted, even though I have no use for this degree.

Sorry, I haven't taken any graduation pictures yet.

… Sweet. Now life is finally starting to rebuild. But I’ve still got to conquer my biggest demon …


You do that dance. You know, that old dance – I’ll put my vape down, tell myself NO MORE, then find myself picking that crap up a few minutes later. Sometimes unconsciously, without even noticing.

This is from the show, Peaky Blinders. One of my favorites. This image is from the scene where I got the \"dance\" quote from. Churchill (right) does the \"dance\" with his cigar. Tommy shelby (left) does the \"dance\" with his suicidal thoughts.

… I don’t know what happened, but a few weeks ago, I just went down this rabbit hole of redditing and googling and watching content about smoking and quitting. Seed was planted, or rather – the seed is being watered as I’ve wanted to quit for a while now. But I wasn’t strong enough. No trigger. No catalyst yet. Mind you, when I smoked, there were times when I had chest pains and kept smoking. This started happening a few years ago. Something to do with asthma? Blood pressure? Etc etc…? Not sure.
… Then a little over 2 weeks ago, I smoked a lot of nicotine, a bit too much. I topped it off with a few ganja hits ….

But something felt off. I started having a full blown panic/anxiety attack, and just felt immense pain everywhere. It was in my chest, yes… but for some odd reason my back started feeling uncomfortable, laying down felt uncomfortable, and I just felt like crap. Not sure why this happened – maybe it was a stroke of luck from God, but it happened.

I decided I had enough. I decided that I was no longer going to let nicotine control me.

In tears, I went to talk to my mom. I just told her I needed to talk to her, and I’m fortunate that she worked as a social worker for the county (people go to her for food stamps basically). Because the first thing I said when I opened my mouth was – “I need help.”
I don’t know why I said that. I’m never that “weak” – but this time, I just gave myself up. I finally admitted, that I had a fucking problem.

I’ve kicked weed a few times in the past and have smoked on/off for years at a time… but nicotine was always the constant. I NEVER missed a day of smoking for 15 years. One day I almost came close – when I got my wisdom teeth pulled out. The doctor told me NO SMOKING. Guess what I did after I went home and rested? Yup – I vaped – against the doctor’s orders. As I said, I was that guy.

And quit I did. I threw it all away. Grabbed all my vape AND weed paraphernalia, and anything even remotely related to it. Fucking crumpled it all up and threw it in a bag, and threw it away.

This must be done, symbolically. To show your mind – “hey, fuck you nicotine. I’m in charge. You’ve taken away enough from me”

And I haven’t looked back since.
I must have cried 25+ times throughout the first few days, just by myself. For no damn reason. Just start tearing up. But I knew that this was a demon I had to conquer.
And you know what, it isn’t painful to fight this demon. The pain comes from the EXPECTATION of pain that you’ll feel, when trying to fight nicotine. But believe me, you can do it.

I am now 15 days clean.

Me, the guy who all my family, friends, everyone – would NEVER EVEN FATHOM quitting – I’ve fucking quit.

I’ve ALREADY quit for good. I say that, because there are no ands, ifs, or buts. There is absolutely 0 chance of me relapsing. Done is done. I’ve had enough of you, nicotine. 15 years you’ve taken from me. You've given me nothing and have taken so much. But now no more.

That’s 15 years of bad health.
15 years of hurting those around me.
15 years of not being fully ‘present’, because I’d always need my nicotine fix.
15 years of thinking that school/business/weed was giving me ANXIETY, but it was actually nicotine that was doing it.
And most importantly, 15 years of being controlled by this monster they call - nicotine... now - over.

The labor is finished. The task is complete. The next level of life is unlocked. Goodbye nicotine, and thank you for absolutely nothing.

Thank you to anyone who read this far. That is my story.


Here are the tips and tricks I used to FIGHT BACK against my addiction. I hope this helps someone:

1. You must know, that you must FIGHT. I promise you, it’s worth it. You might think nicotine is making you “less stressed” and giving you “more energy” to deal with life – but it’s a false illusion. It’s a temporary fix, for more pain later. And it snowballs.
These past 2 weeks have been the most STRESSFREE I’ve been, actually.

2. The first thing you must do is download an app. Some type of quit smoking app. The one I used charges $7 a month, but gives you access to counselors. Trust me, it’s worth it. Just spend that damn $7, even if you feel like you don’t need it. It will force you to talk to these people.

3. Next, in order to fight the cravings, you must MOVE YOUR BODY. Just force yourself to move it.
Take a walk, do some yoga, do some meditation, go for a run.
I know these 4 things are things you DO NOT WANT TO HEAR, or are LAZY AS FUCK when it comes to it….
But believe me – from smoker to smoker:
When you’re running at full speed, you aren’t going to be thinking about a cigarette or vape. You’re going to be thinking about how badly your lungs hurt.
I ran through that pain. I used this pain to EXORCISE the demon out of me.
If I did have a craving while walking, then I had to punish my body with a small 10 second sprint.
Believe me, it’s fucking worth it. It felt so liberating – as I hated running. But for some reason, running this time, feels great. My lungs stopped hurting as bad. More air was going in them.

4. Throughout your activities, put on some motivational podcasts. These helped me immensely. Just type something like “change your life motivation” into YouTube. Play it in the background, and go for a small jog. I guarantee by the end of your jog, you’ll be a better person than you were before you started that jog.

5. GUM. BUY GUM. XYLITOL is my go to, because it will WHITEN YOUR TEETH. Plus, it will define your jawlines. Remind yourself of this. Remind yourself to take care of yourself. Yup – just by you taking care of yourself, this DOES snowball. So don’t forget.

6. Replace the unhealthy habits with the healthy habits. WAIT – before you skim past this, hear me out.
Now fill that void, with stuff that makes you a better person. Fill that void with meditation and yoga, because chances are, the nonsmokers in your life don’t do that anyways. So let’s take this opportunity, to ascend in our lives and get to the next level.
I started showering 2-3 times a day, started taking better and better care of my health, grooming, cleaning, sorting out my life, etc…. and you know what – doing this has been immense help.

7. Steps 1 to 6 were very helpful to me as now I rarely get cravings. HOWEVER, when I do, there are a few things I tell myself. Some mantras. Some phrases. Check this out.
> First, identify if it is a PHYSICAL or MENTAL craving. If it’s physical, that means you need to get your body moving. Do something else. If it’s a mental, gum will do the trick.
> If it’s a mental and gum isn’t helping, I assure you this trick will help. Instead of trying to resist your craving, instead… just WATCH YOUR CRAVING COME AND GO. Just watch and observe. Don’t fight, don’t react. Just watch it. Just feel it. It’s there, but it isn’t really. So just watch it come and go. Because it will go.
> You must view the nicotine craving as a demon. The evil nicotine demon. You must realize, that when you feel like shit due to the cravings… that more nicotine isn’t the solution. Do you feel pain that you’re going to explode and die because no nicotine???? My friend, that’s EXACTLY WHAT THE NICOTINE DEMON does to you. It tricks you into thinking that the solution to this pain, is more poison in your body. Think about that for a second. You want to cure pain with poison????!?!? Kidding me.
> Lastly, you must remember the main benefit of quitting. I thought it was my health, but I was wrong. It isn’t your health. It’s not money. It’s not family. It’s not this, not that. I’ll tell you what it is.
The main benefit is that you’re more present and in the moment. You’re here. You’re normal again. YOU. ARE. BACK. TO. NORMAL. AGAIN. Don’t you ever forget that. This has implications on every aspect of your life. So let’s make these implications GOOD implications. Trust me, you will thank yourself later.

8. Allen carr has a great book and there are links somewhere here. But to sum it up in a nutshell, or at least to give you what I GOT out of it – Allen carr smoked 100+ cigs a day, even when he was ALREADY dying. He had constant pain. He was so addicted, he had to smoke in order to turn on a light bulb. Goddam, now that – is addicted. Yet, he was able to quit.
He used a simple shift in mentality, which also helps me. What is it?
You’re already “quit”. Now, you have to make that downhill climb of “maintenance and not relapsing” into smoking.
Well, that’s what I got out of it – but I encourage you to read it.

9. Lastly, if you’re ever in a tough time, please TALK ABOUT IT. You guys here on reddit, are absolutely amazing. Hearing the stories of others, being able to provide insights to others, and helping others through their struggles – is really a medicine and high of its own.
If it wasn’t for all these support networks and amazing subreddits and people in them, I’m not sure if I could have done this. Seriously.


So please, if you’re in a similar position, and have a craving – before you send more poison into your body, why don’t you send someone here on reddit a message. Even me. Post something. Comment something. Just reach out and talk to someone! Because you’re not the only one struggling. I thought it was impossible for me to quit, but I did it. Just trust me, there’s something about talking to someone who has been in a similar situation, which is really reassuring. And at this point, we really have to support each other because smoking technology is only going to get more addictive and accessible as time goes on.

Thank you guys for reading everything. It is a long story, yes – but I sincerely hope this helps someone. If you need help, just ask and I will do my best to help.

15 years I smoked every single fucking day. Now I’m 1 day clean for each year I smoked. Pretty soon, it’ll be 2 days clean for each year. Then 3. Point is – I’m done with nicotine, and there is no looking back. It feels fucking great to be free again. To be myself again. And to have my full potential back again.

And P.S. - Fuck you, nicotine. Seriously. Fuck you.

submitted by iECOMMERCE to stopsmoking [link] [comments]

Warzone Solo Strategy - My Tips for Kills and Success

Hi everyone, I have been playing almost exclusively warzone solos for a while now and I've noticed there is actually not much in the way of good strategy guides just for solos. I am a bit above average (KD 1.24) but far from the best player around, nevertheless I believe I have a great deal of experience in fine-tuning different solo strategies and seeing what works and what doesn't. In this post I will go through my process of what to do, when to do it, why I'm doing it and how I go about doing it. Gun-skill and situational awareness are two prerequisites that should be nailed down before thinking about macro-strategy, and can only be learnt by practice.
Note that the strategy below is probably not the best one for overall win-rate. That one would probably the do-10-recons-and-camp-the-final-circle strategy but if you like to play more aggressively getting lots of kills and dislike the camping playstyle, read on.
Step 1 - The Drop
The very first step to a successful game is a good drop. As with many things, you should be able to drop anywhere and make it work, so this is mostly about efficiently getting kitted up as soon as possible so you a) don't get into a position where you are encountering loaded-out players while you're stuck with ground loot and b) can get your loadout as soon as possible and start racking up kills on players that haven't yet got theirs.
Dropping locations vary on a scale of hot (many players landing in a condensed location) to cold (no other players landing there). The heat of a particular drop location depends on the following:
  1. Relative position to the flight path. Almost without fail the hottest drop locations are immediately below the point where the plane enters the map. These are the players who are in a mad rush to start looting and don't want to waste any time in the air. The middle of the plane's flight path is still pretty hot for much the same reason, just not so much as the beginning or end. The end point of the flight path is hot because this is where the AFK players get kicked out. Usually there are about five AFK players but also another five who want to grab some easy kills on them. Conversely, the longer the transverse distance from the flight path the colder it gets because it takes longer to get to, risks being shot while parachuting and is frankly a little bit tedious. That is not to say that it is necessarily a bad thing to do.
  2. Relative position to first circle. There does not appear to be much variation in heat within the first circle which is marked on the map - the centre is not particularly hotter than the edges. But the further you get outside the first circle you get the colder it becomes. The reason for this is obvious, you only have a couple of minutes to loot before the gas closes and if you are far outside the circle you will have to race back to safety.
  3. Scavenger contracts. These contracts can turn an area from a cold to a hot drop location, simply because most people realise that these are one of the best ways to begin a solo game.
  4. High-value locations. These locations will generally always be hot, more or less-so depending on where they are, relative to the flight path and first circle. High-value locations are places which have a lot of valuable loot in a small area and are consequently the quickest way to get decent ground loot and the money for a loadout. Examples include the train, superstore and passcode bunkers.
What is good to keep in mind is that a drop location will be hot for a reason - people want to drop in a certain place because it offers a certain advantage. Equally, a cold location will be cold generally because it offers little advantage. On the other hand, lots of competition in the early game is very risky. Even if you have great gun-skill it is very easy to get third-partied and therefore in half the games you drop hot you will get sent to the gulag within a minute or two. In solos the player count drops from 150 to 120 or less in about a minute - those 30 almost certainly dropped hot and paid for it. Cold drops, while taking longer to reach, will allow you more time to loot in peace and will generally give you enough space to seek out enemies on your own terms. However in the coldest spots you may struggle to find anyone, which isn't very fun at all.
As with most things in life, a compromise is often the best option. You should be able to handle the heat of two or three players dropping within 100m or you, so no need to go colder than that. Go much hotter and it becomes a toss-up if you'll survive into the top 100.
Obviously there's more to it than simply trying to pick a lukewarm drop position. You have to think about what you want to do upon landing. A contract is generally your answer. Bounties, while rewarding, aren't generally the best thing to get straight away. For a start, often your bounty target will still be in the air and will soon be hundreds of meters away. Alternatively they could have had a lucky drop and have found far better weapons than you. There is one situation however where I would recommend bounties straight away, and that is when you are the one who got a lucky drop and you were able to get a very good ground loot weapon very quickly. For example, with the season 6 ground loot origins even if the bounty target hides like a rat upstairs in a building, you can reliably rush them. Time is the great equalizer; after about five minutes you can assume that everyone has a good weapon. Before that time, if you have a powerful ground loot weapon then squeeze as many kills as you can. Recons are only good in my opinion if you go big on recons till the end (as I mentioned above). Supply runs are a bit meh, at the start you want to be focusing on looting items not buying stuff. That leaves us with scavengers.
While I did mention above that these contracts make for pretty hot locations, they do so for good reason. A scavenger contract only takes a minute or so to complete and rewards you with all the plates you'll need, a high chance of rare/legendary weapon and often enough cash to go straight for a loadout. Essentially, they reward you for what you would be doing anyway at this point in the game - looting. Furthermore, in season 6 the drop rate for plates decreased a lot - meaning that generic looting cannot guarantee you will get enough plates as quick as you will need them. With a scavenger, you avoid getting stuck without armour - suffice to say this is not a good position to find yourself.
Since scavengers are hot drops, you'll want to go for one on the colder end of the spectrum so you actually have a chance to reach it first and not die in the process. So long as you pick one that's not under the flight path you should be fine. Also, think contingencies. Think 'what am I going to do if I can't get that contract?'. This is why, ideally, you should go for a spot with a few scavengers in the vicinity so that if one gets taken there will still be others to grab. Ironically these locations are often less hot than places with just one scavenger - in such places there will likely be three or more players all converging on one place. Another tip is that some scavenger icons on the map are hard to see because they are under other icons or place names - many players would have missed those, leaving them all to you!
Alternatively, instead of going for a contract you could drop on the train. The train is pretty much a moving bunker's worth of loot but avoids the risk of getting trapped inside by another player. Admittedly, if the train is close to the flight path it can get really hot and therefore not worth the risk. If it is far away however it is possible to have the whole train to yourself. If you do then you often will get twice the loot of a scavenger contract in a fraction of the time; then jump off the train at a buy station and you could get your loadout within a minute of the drop. Obviously it is a lottery whether other players have the same idea as well and most of the time you will have to fight the other passengers. What's good about the train is that it is easy to bail and escape a bad gunfight if you feel you need to.
An ideal drop that leaves both strategies open is if you aim for a scavenger contract near to the train track and loot until the train approaches. Then you can quickly see if it is unlooted in which case you can jump on and do the honours, if it is currently being looted it is quite easy to kill the looter who, thinking they had the train to themselves, is focusing on looting. If the train has been looted and the looter has skedaddled, no worries! You still have a scavenger contract to keep you busy.
One final thing I will say about dropping is that it is preferable to drop fairly centrally in the first circle. The reason for this is that you'll want to have your free loadout drop deep in the circle which means it will stick around into the mid-late game. You will want this because if and when you get sent to the gulag and return you will want to be able to grab your loadout ASAP. The later in the game it is the harder and more dangerous cash is to find, making raising 10k a tough prospect.
To summarise, drop on a scavenger or the train (ideally both) in a medium-heat location in the centre of the circle.
Step 2 - Early Game (drop -> loadout)
Ok, so you've dropped on your scavenger and have started looting. Your priorities here are as follows:
  1. Getting a decent weapon. Doesn't need to be fantastic, just lose your pistol as quick as you can. Even the plain old grey Uzi will serve you well in the early game. As you loot further you can pick up better weapons.
  2. Getting plates. The one plate you need to get from your starting two to the full 250 health bar is critical. You don't want to enter any gunfights until you are fully plated - ideally with a few more in the pocket to sustain prolonged intermittent firefights. Don't panic if there aren't any plates around - just focus on completing the scavenger and you'll get all the plates you need.
  3. Getting cash. The ultimate aim for early game is saving up the 10k for a loadout. A scavenger won't generally give you enough cash on its own, so as you proceed from box to box make sure you open regular blue boxes en route to try and grab more cash.
Once you've completed the scavenger take a look at your cash stack. If you have 10k, then head to the nearest buy station and grab a loadout marker. If you are short of the 10k, you will need to either loot some more or grab a bounty. I'm partial to a bounty at this point if I have a decent weapon and I'm not in downtown (bounties in downtown are very difficult to pull off). A bounty will give you 6k in addition to whatever the target drops, so if you kill them you will have more than enough for a loadout as well as a self res or UAV.
Buying and grabbing your loadout is one of the most dangerous parts of the early game - the red smoke is difficult to hide and often snipers will wait for you to stand still for half a second while you open the loadout before they dome you. There are however ways to mitigate the danger. One tactic is to run off into the woods or mountains on the edge of the map and drop the marker there. This method is fairly safe (so long as you make sure you're not being followed) but it takes a while to get there, if you're in the centre of the map it can be unfeasible. Another method is to find a building with an accessible roof, clear it of any enemies, and drop your marker on the ground floor. This will both hide most of the smoke and put the loadout on the roof, hopefully avoiding people sneaking up on you while you grab it. Note that this latter method is vulnerable to snipers, so avoid using buildings that are close to even higher buildings (e.g. downtown) and remember to go prone while opening the loadout.
This brings me to the question that is always on the mind of warzone players - what loadout should I get? The only rule I would stick to is to make sure you have the ghost perk. You are playing at a massive strategical disadvantage, especially in mid to late-game, if you don't run ghost. Overkill may be tempting, but at this point you should have a good enough ground loot weapon to keep on hand along with whatever loadout weapon you pick. Even if you don't have anything decent, just go with an all-comers weapon like an assault rifle. Honestly, it's not worth being the one guy that everyone will be making a bee-line too when they start popping UAVs in mid-game.
Since you'll only be getting one primary weapon in your loadout, you ought to pick whatever complements your best current ground loot weapon. As a rule of thumb, you always want something to cover mid-range (assault rifles, long range SMGs, LMGs) and then you can pick a long-range (snipers) or short-range (SMGs, shotguns) weapon depending on where the circle is moving and/or your playstyle. The northern part of the map has a lot of open spaces that reward sniping, while in the more urban areas you will want something to handle close-quarter encounters. Personal preference is of course a major factor - don't pick a sniper if you hate sniping. If you like rushing buildings then don't leave without an MP5 or good shotgun.
In season 6 there are good ground loots weapons in every category. When you head to buy your loadout, have a think of what you want to keep and what you'll want to pick up (make sure to do the thinking before you throw down the loadout marker, you want to pick up the loadout as quick as humanly possible after that). Below is a list of what I would recommend getting depending on what you have on hand, in terms of ground-loot:
The other things to consider are perks, tacticals and lethals. Everyone has their favourites, but for solos I recommend the following:
Once you have picked up your loadout, remember to pick up whatever ground loot weapon you decided to keep (if any, you may prefer a launcher secondary to handle vehicles) and high-tail it out of the area as quickly as possible. You want to put distance between you and the red smoke which has probably caught the eye of some thirsty players who are now running there trying to catch an easy kill. You could wait and try and kill some of these players, but consider they could be coming from any direction and you will have to keep an eye on 360 degrees of approach.
At some point, 13s before the gas reaches the first circle IIRC, you will get a free loadout. Leave it alone unless you're coming back from the gulag. For one, it will likely be camped and become a deathtrap, secondly you want to leave your future self a lifeline if you go to the gulag and redeploy. Again, this is why it is helpful to be near the centre of the circle when the free loadout spawns so that you can take advantage of it even if you redeploy late-game.
Optional Step 2.5 - Gulag
Fairly often in the early game you will get unlucky or outplayed and get sent to the gulag. It happens to everyone and is far from the end of the game. I would say that at least half of my wins have come after returning from the gulag. I can't tell you how to win the gulag - that comes down mostly to gun-skill and muscle memory. If you lose the gulag, it's not the end of the world, just play again. Now let's say you kick your opponents ass and you redeploy, you should aim straight for the free loadout if it has spawned yet. If not, drop on a scavenger and go through the early-game process of getting plates, weapons, cash etc. Then grab the loadout when it arrives. Doing this is dangerous especially if many players' loadouts drop together, but so is waiting around without your loadout. Either approach as soon as it drops and grab it before people settle in to camp it, or encircle the loadout and clear out potential camping spots before grabbing it.
Optional step 2.6 - Bunkers
If at any point in the game (except perhaps late game) you find a red access card, drop everything and head to the nearest card bunker. There are four I believe; dam, military base, hills and prison. Especially since season 6 these are incredibly valuable. Now there will always be, right at the back of the bunker, a 'super-legendary' item. This could be a loadout drop marker (a.k.a. 10k cash), durable gas mask, advanced UAV, minigun, foresight or juggernaut. All are incredibly useful (except perhaps the minigun) and potentially game-winning, especially the juggernaut and foresight. If you pick up a juggernaut it is very hard to lose in solos. It feels like a cheap win, but a win is a win. Foresight is also incredibly broken, it's gives you the exact position of the final circle including all the circle movement. When I talk about the late-game I emphasise how important circle movement is to victory, and this gives you all that intel on a silver platter. If you fancy a relaxing game it also tells you exactly what house to go and have a nap in until the late game. Even if you get none of these items, the sheer amount of cash you can loot from the bunker can mean you'll never need to worry about money for the rest of the game.
Be careful getting to the bunker though. By all means take a vehicle, just don't park it right outside the door. That's just asking for an uninvited guest to crash the party. Park a hundred meters or so away and take the rest by foot, making sure nobody sees you go in. If you're trapped in there by someone waiting at the door there's no other way out.
Step 3 - Mid game (loadout -> top 20)
Now this is where the fun begins! When you have your loadout you could pick a building and sit in there like a loser. What is much more rewarding is to go out hunting. Players could be anywhere, just wandering around aimlessly is not the key to a high-kill game. You need targets to aim for and approach strategically like a tiger. How can you find targets? You can see players visually and follow them, which is a cheap and effective method but unreliable, furthermore if they have decent situational awareness they will spot you back very soon after you do, leaving a limited time window to attack with the element of surprise.
Another way to locate targets is to head in the direction of unsuppressed fire, which will place a temporary red dot on the mini-map. If this happens close to you then you have a prime opportunity to third-party someone and get a cheap kill, but if you have to travel a few hundred meters it becomes a less reliable way of getting kills. Consider that the player who has been firing their unsuppressed weapon is fully aware that they have just broadcasted their location and will be quickly relocating after the fight if they have any game sense. Furthermore, many players will likely have the same idea as you and will flock like moths to a flame hoping to get a few juicy kills, this can often create a chain reaction of third-party attacks as people arrive to intervene in the unsuppressed gunfight, who fire more unsuppressed shots thereby attracting more people. This generally ends badly for 90% of those involved, so best avoided if you can.
There are only two methods to reliably locate targets - UAVs and bounty contracts. The former costs money, while the latter awards it. However, the crucial difference is that someone highlighted by an UAV is completely unaware that they have been targeted and that you are heading straight for them. Granted, they will hear the 'UAV overhead' announcement but that is so common in solos that it doesn't have much meaning - in mid-game solos you can reliably assume that there is always at least one UAV overhead from someone. In contrast, when someone is chosen as a bounty target they know that they specifically have been singled out and how close their hunter is. Most players' reaction to this is to just camp in a building for the three minutes until the time expires. If you have a decent short range SMG or shotgun you should be able to rush a building in which your target is hiding, but it is no guarantee of success. Remember, just because you have a bounty target it does not mean you have to attack - if they're hiding upstairs in a house with an origin and claymores on the stairs, it's not a fight you have much chance of winning. Move along.
In short, if you have the money buy a UAV and hunt with whatever intel it gives you. Ideally the kill you get with that intel will fund your next UAV purchase and you will snowball round the map racking up the kills. Remember if there are no UAV targets near you and it runs out of fuel before you reach the red dots, you can try and pinpoint them with your heartbeat sensor. Think of it like a mini-UAV. I should probably mention at this point that if you have left over money from buying a UAV, pick up a self-res if you can. 80% of the time they won't help but you'll feel incredibly grateful for the 20% of times they do. Of course, if there is a fire sale you might as well grab one for free.
If your snowball of death grinds to a halt; maybe you ran out of non-ghosted players in the vicinity or you ran out of money by killing too many poor players, now is a good time to pick up a bounty target to get the snowball going again.
A third way to find targets more reliably than just wandering around, but without the risk of bounties or the cost of UAVs is to employ the famous 'pinwheel rotation'. Popularised by youtuber Icemanisaac, this is where you hug the gas while it is stationary and then rotate into the next circle at a 45 degree angle to the gas when it closes in. The logic for this strategy is that you will catch players moving into the inner circle directly perpendicular to the gas, including players flushed out of their camping spots by the encroaching gas. What's more, you don't need to worry so much about your outside flank since that will be covered by the gas. I find this strategy works best mid to late game when the gas isn't moving as fast and the amount of non-ghosted players diminishes the value of UAVs. Be sure to grab a gas mask if you're using this strategy as you will occasionally need to dip into the gas. Note that you can use UAVs as you pinwheel, giving you extra intel (e.g. if the UAV picks up someone in a building on the edge of the gas, you can expect them to be flushed out where you will be waiting for them).
Using our toolkit of UAVS, bounties, unsuppressed fire and the pinwheel rotation, you should be able to grab a good amount of kills in the mid-game.
Step 4 - Late game (top 20 -> Warzone Victory)
Generally around the top 20 the real end-game begins. Now the value from UAVs is diminished, since non-ghosted players are probably dead and in any event you don't have the liberty anymore to start running around everywhere looking for kills. Bounties aren't worth it anymore because cash becomes more or less irrelevant at this point - there's probably only one or two buy stations left and they're most likely camped. If you come across a bounty you can take it just for the extra intel it gives you, just be very careful about going after them. At this point in the game you need to play a lot more cautiously. I would say camping is fine at this stage - you've had your fun already.
If you can secure a house in the final circle then that's ideal, what is more likely is that the recon-ers have already secured all the nice camping spots. If you have a good MP5 or shotgun you could rush the building but its a risky prospect and liable to third parties joining in the fun. If you are stuck outside in the cold then, if it's an open area, your best bet is probably to continue to pinwheel in as the gas closes, albeit at a slower, more cautious pace. If the final circle is a more urban area like downtown or promenade, you can slowly but surely proceed into the circle making sure to check all your corners, make maximum use of cover and dial the situational awareness up to 11. You can still get quite a few kills this way as often players won't hear your approach if you don't run.
At the final circle it all comes down to gun-skill, stealth and a healthy dollop of luck. In the top 3, try to third party the other two. Nine times out of ten the two players who start the gunfight lose to the player who waited and finished off the victor. Of course, you often don't have the luxury of picking your fights. When the circle starts moving, this is where the RNG can give you or steal away the win. If the circle moves to your side then it's simply a matter of waiting for the gas to deliver your opponent(s) into your arms. If not, then the opposite will apply. The odds will be against you in this case but it's by no means a done deal. Here your only chance of survival is superior gun-skill.
And there you have it! The entire process from dropping to winning the game. This took way longer than I thought it would but I hope I've given some useful tips. I would love for you guys to offer any thoughts on my strategy and stuff you do that also works well.
submitted by bonbanarma to CODWarzone [link] [comments]

Tips and tricks and how to make your life easier in Exos Heroes

Hello everyone.
I've been around in this game for quite some time now and as I spent more and more time in the game, I found some very useful "lifehacks" that helped me out immensely. It has been on my mind for some time, but now I actually decided to share all of these little things that I found in the game. I hope it will be as useful to you all as it was for me.
Please note that some of the things listed here might be common knowledge, something you already know or simply irrelevant for you as some require specific heroes that you might not have.


Finance, Xes, Fate Cores

Account management, Shops, Whaleforce


At least I have a picture of the first attempt and the next Bathory turned out great..
submitted by Tactical_Frodo to ExosHeroes [link] [comments]

Scarlette Dangerfield and The Lost City of Kijelle [6]

* First Chapter | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter *
For such a short notice, The Sandpit was bustling with lots of activity that evening. Maybe it was simply because there was some overlap between Trials so that those who needed work and didn’t get the previous job offers were still in the area and seeking a job. Maybe it was because Kito knew his work and was able to get the word out quickly. Maybe it was simply because people were always excited to hear about a new victim that was going to get the snot kicked out of them, regardless of whether or not they lost their reputation or got themselves a job. Either way, as Scarlette entered into the lobby of the The Sandpit, she was surprised that Rossin was able to drum up so many spectators to watch tonight’s Trial and possibly recoup any potential losses he may gain from concessions and betting. Though, from the way that some strangers around her appeared to be carrying something like a pretzel smothered in a fluorescent sauce and a large tankard of their choice of alcohol, Scarlette could guess that Rossin had managed to find *something* cheap and easy to make en masse to please his customers. Rossin is good at being able to scrounge up those quick, creative solutions. Hell, if Rossin was in the business, Scarlette would definitely offer him a spot on her crew.
However, as she rounded the bend towards the locker rooms, she couldn’t help but feel a little nervous about the fights to come. Scarlette hasn’t really captained a crew in quite some time--- her endurance skills might be a little on the rusty side. She was lucky enough that with the hopping around from job to job, planet to planet, her instincts and intuitions were still as sharp as ever. But when was the last time she had to go up against close to a dozen different creatures, all by herself, and still be standing by the end of it? It had certainly been a while at the very least… On top of all of it, at the end of the day, the human body was really rather fragile when it came to fighting other alien races. Sure, humans were no slouches and they could survive a whole *bunch* of stuff--- but that’s survival. That’s not knocking the shit out of another Xeno for fun. Hell, you can *survive* getting your limb chopped off, but it ain’t gonna be fun afterwards. Scarlette’s synthetic thumbs were a reminder of that fact. Who knows what sort of things Scarlette may lose entering into this fighting arena… But danger was her last name right? *Scarlette Dangerfield.* Even if that bit were true, though, Scarlette probably would still be nervous as hell otherwise.
Popping open a free locker that Rossin provided, she put in her personal effects and started taking stock of what sorts of weapons she had at her disposal. In all reality, Scarlette had a lot of weapons and tricks she could work with. Issue was she found herself in the difficult position of: *what’s effective but not necessarily crippling?* Sure, Scarlette needed to defeat her potential hirelings, but since they were shipping off in less than 52 hours, she didn’t have the time for any serious patchwork jobs her workers may need after this fight. Thus, she had to ride a line. Annoying yet not disabling. Harmful but not dangerous. A real good pain in the ass but it’s not going to put anyone in the emergency room. Luckily enough, Scarlette had lots of equipment that could provide lots of utility in a fight. She just wasn’t entirely sure who she was up against--- a test of her ingenuity and ability to think in high intensity situations. So, she would need some things that were a little more versatile, a range of possible uses.
One of the first things she grabbed was her Spark Blaster--- depending on which of the setting she used, Scarlette imagined that it wouldn’t hurt her opponents too badly. Probably just stun them, depending on the opponent.
She grabbed a couple smoke bombs.
A netball that would, as the name would imply, envelope her opponents in a net upon impact.
Pair of bio-imprinted handcuffs.
Grappling hook.
Couple of bolas that can trip a foe or two.
A snare-patch that would stick to anything that came in contact with it.
Couple of cybertech disks she could use as a shocking weapon.
Really, when Scarlette took stock of the weapons that she was bringing into the fight, she almost felt like Batman… or rather Batwoman… Robin maybe? Well, in a way, Scarlette and Bruce had similar goals in mind, so it wasn’t all that surprising. The only difference was Bruce was trying to fight crime; Scarlette wanted to fight some new hires. Their lives were probably pretty comparatively crazy, weren’t they?
Scarlette pushed bio-imprinted mouthguard against the roof of her mouth and felt it lock into place; she did the same with the bottom piece and when she felt they were both properly secure, she started putting on some light armor. It was a little more scuffed up than some of the more military grade she’d seen for sale on the black market--- when she bought it used, the set didn’t even have a helmet included. But really, it kept her safe from the larger concerns she was worried about: acid damage, cybernetic interference, resistance to extreme temperature. You know, the usual stuff, the basic stuff; the stuff you needed when you were particularly squishy. Scarlette was more of a distance fighter than a close-combat person, but she needed to be adaptable. Be ready for whatever these fuckers throw at you. Easier said than done in all actuality…
Scarlette was in the middle of her stretches and warm-ups when Tilani came scurrying up to her, headset over their ears and a worried look on their face.

“You’re on in about 5, Scarlette.” She nodded towards Tilani and resituated her cavalier to something a little more intimidating atop her head.
Heading back towards the entrance to the Sandpit, Tilani called to her.
“Hey.” She looked back at the creature.
“Don’t push yourself too hard out there today… I rather have you disgraced than dead.”
A grin crawled across her lips revealing the shine of the lime green mouthguard situated across her teeth.
“Don’t worry, Tills,” she managed to garble through the rubbery contraption in her mouth. “Danger is in my name.”

And with that, Scarlette stepped out into the light that was trailing in from the entrance tube that led to the sandpit.

Scarlette shielded herself from the bright lights that illuminated the center of The Sandpit. The stark contrast between the darker interior of the locker room to the spotlights that rained down on her took her a moment before she could see properly again. Crowded all along the banisters were Xenos of all kinds, creatures coming from planets she had never visited and couldn’t recognize. Strange colors swam across their pelts like someone had taken a bucket of paint and thrown it all across a canvas in haste. Some of them were augmented in various ways, such as herself, to cope with the environment that wasn’t always suited to their natural biology; some of them were just augmented for aesthetics. Many of them adornished themselves decorations and ornaments in styles that were not familiar to Scarlette. But the moment that she became visible in the overhead lights, the crowd began to roar in excitement with strange noises that mingled together into a cacophony of sound.
Scarlette hopped over the guardrail that blocked the entrance of the locker rooms to the sandpit and waved her cavalier towards the crowd with a big cheesy grin on her face. She walked over towards the far end of the Sandpit, planted her feet firmly on the ground, and cracked her knuckles in anticipation of what was to come. The crowd continued to make strange calls, whether they be in eagerness for the fight to come or in awe of such a curious species that had decided to host this Trial, and Scarlette felt her heart flutter in her chest. Even if these fights scared the everloving shit out of her, she still found it exhilarating to stand in front of this crowd that was desperately hoping to see her fail. Even if finding a crew to work with was strictly business, there was a certain amount of production and entertainment to the entire process that thrilled her. Really, it reminded Scarlette of when she sang a solo for a play when she was back on Earth in the drama club. Both combinations of terrifying and exhilarating--- because even if these creatures were all sitting around with their alcohol and bar-food, wondering if someone’s going to take the competition a little too far, Scarlette was ready to put on a show! She was about to show all of these fuckers just what Earth is made of, what humans are made of, what *she* was made of. And she couldn’t help but get excited about that idea every time.

“*Hailing all the way from a forbidden world called Earth, Miss Scarlette Dangerfield is looking for a batch of seasoned starsailors to join her crew aboard the Starship Icarus.*” Rossin’s voice carried from the microphone attached to the side of his face and dispersed amongst the crowd as they hung on every word that fell from his mouth. “*Much of her mission is unknown at this time--- the length of the journey, the time out across the cosmos, the dangers involved in the trip. But the one thing that’s guaranteed is that once the mission is complete, you will be rewarded for your services handsomely. And with a name like Dangerfield, you know you’re bound for an adventure.*”
This comment earned a few chuckles from the crowd.
“*And with that, I’d like to introduce to you our first combatant for the evening: Rileea Zigvul!*”

Scarlette pivoted on her heels to face the entrance to the locker room as she backed up a little towards the far wall. A figure started to make their way towards the light as they approached the guardrail at the entrance to the sandpit. As the alien hopped over the fence, Scarlette took a moment or two to study her opponent. With a face that reminded Scarlette somewhat of a barn owl, the black patterns that framed the creature’s face ended at a sharp point where a human’s chin would be. It was a bipedal creature whose leg structure looked like it had been straight pulled off a t-rex or a velociraptor with its feet ending in three front toes and one hind toe. It had four arms mounted against its back and its hands looked very similar to a human’s except it only had 3 fingers and a thumb instead of four. The markings where its flesh showed appeared painted in black and white in a coloration that reminded Scarlette of an orca. Though, whether this *Rileea Zigvul* was destined to swim or fly, Scarlette couldn’t tell as there appeared to be some webbing connecting the shoulders to the neck and fins against their forearms--- yet there were also clusters of feathers that made up what would be their “hair.”
All of that said, Scarlette was surprised at how little armor they brought into the fight. There appeared to be some shin pads for their legs, bracers for each of their arms, some pants made from a material that Scarlette couldn’t recognize, and a hood that connected to a sleeveless crop-top that doubled as plated armor. It almost seemed *too* light, more casual wear than actual armor. But ever since Damien showed her that tech could be integrated with clothing, Scarlette couldn’t really be sure… Really, Scarlette had never encountered a creature like this before and she was a little nervous at what they were capable of.

“*Rileea Zigil hails from a planet at the far reaches of our galaxy and seeks to leave the chains of her old world behind her. Always up for another chance to challenge death, she is taking up the opportunity to become one of Scarelette’s crew--- if she can survive her brutal onslaught that is.*”

Scarlette and Rileea stood across from one another, sizing each other up. Just by the nature of the line-up, Rileea appeared to have the biological advantage. Scarlette would have to do something about those extra arms. She put up her fists into a boxing position and Rileea spread her limbs out wide as if to catch something.

“Alright ladies,” Rossin started, coming between the two of them, “You know how these fights work. The moment either of you has had enough and wants to tap out signal the crew on your ocular display. If both of you can project a hologram for me just to make sure your displays are working properly---” Scarlet projected a hand giving a good old thumbs up.
Rileea did the same with some strange signal Scarlet couldn’t recognize.
“Wonderful. And as you know, Sandpit policy any mortalities sustained during the duration of the fight are the other combatant’s responsibility. No rules. No guidelines. Every decision is under your discretion of what seems appropriate. Alright. Acknowledge the other fighter.” Scarlet offered out her hand for a fist bump, much like touching gloves before a fight.
Rileea intuitively followed Scarlet’s lead and they touched fists.
“On your marks.”
Scarlet tightened her fists.
“Get set.”
She dug her heels deeper into the sand beneath her.

Before Rileea could even get a chance to lunge herself in Scarlette’s direction, she kicked up some sand with the side of her foot and aimed directly for where Rileea’s eyes should be. The creature cried out in frustration. Stepping back, they covered their face with two of their hands and tried to claw the sand out of their eyes. Scarlette dashed straight towards the creature before skidding into a slide. She pulled one of their arms behind their back as she pulled her bio-imprinted cuffs off her belt.
The cuffs were locked into place.
Scarlette rolled out of the way, and stood as she put up her arms into a defensive position. Rileea spun around on their heels and howled in anger as their arms struggled in their restraints. Scarlette couldn’t help but feel herself grin at the frustration in her opponent’s demeanor. Now, the odds were a little more even. Now, she wasn’t the pushover weakling that others took her for. Bet that Rileea fucker wouldn’t be so smug---
The Xeno’s weight slammed against hers and shoved her into the barrier with a loud ***thrrraackk*** as the crowd let out a cry of horror.
The air was shoved out of Scarlette’s lungs and she gasped, her lungs aching for substance to fill them once more.
She deserved that. She definitely deserved that.
Rileea wrapped her arms around Scarlette’s waist and suplexed her over their body, face first into the dirt. Little burning embers of light speckling her eyes as she tried to gather her wits about her to no avail. Scarlette felt a weight press against her back and a hand pressed her face deeper into the sand, her thoughts beginning to swim, her head feeling detached from the rest of her body. Could she breathe? Was she still alive? Was this what dying felt like?

“What’s it taste like, runt?” A voice distant but angry growled at her. “Tell me what that dirt tastes like.”
Scarlette felt the voice in her head start to fade in and out as she started to lose consciousness. She tried to push herself up from the ground underneath her but Rileea was too strong, her hand dug deeper and deeper into the grit beneath her.
“Tell me what it feels like to know that you are *worthless.*”

A fumble with a strap. Reposition her hand.
Scarlette’s finger squeezed against the trigger of her Spark Blaster, and she felt the weight against her head and back release as Rileea was sent flying. She lifted her head and coughed up all of the salt and soil that she managed to breathe in with her face smashed to the dirt. Granules of sand stuck to her face and clung to her lips, as she crawled away on her hands and knees. She wiped off the spittle and grains that rolled down her chin with the palm of her hand. Standing up, she turned to face Rileea, voice hoarse and shallow from her newly recovered breath.

“I’ll have you know I’m actually worth 35,012 credits.” She spit some blood into the dirt and wiped the rest of it off her lips with the back of her hand. “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t damage the merchandise.”
Rileea slowly crawled to her feet as a bitter laugh of sorts erupted from her form. They positioned themselves into a defensive stance, digging up mounds of sand around their feet.
“Value yourself that little?”
“Nah,” Scarlette wiped her nose, “I value myself that much.”
A knowing look seemed to pass across Rileea’s face.
“Then, show me how you earned that number *Captain.\*”
Scarlette felt herself grin.
“With pleasure!”

Scarlette dashed towards Rileea and struck her in the torso. Her knuckles cracked against Rileea’s stomach as pain shot up her arm--- natural armor. Of course. She pulled her fist away grabbing it at the wrist and shaking out the shock. Rileea took the opportunity to knee Scarlette in the torso. Right hook. Left hook. Bash to the forehead. Reeling, Scarlette shook away as much vertigo as she could manage before giving a good one-two punch herself and ending it in an uppercut. Rileea staggered before she returned the favor. Right punch--- parry. Left swing--- deflect. Scarlette tried her best to get some blows as well: a left jab, a right-hand strike. She swung her left leg into a roundhouse kick to Rileea’s face, but she managed to catch it before it found any purchase. Wrapping her hand around Scarlette’s ankle, Rileea twisted her leg that sent Scarlette into a spin and Scarlette tucked in her limbs to move with the force of the counterattack. She dropped to the ground into a three-point landing to steady herself back onto solid ground. Another smile cracked across Scarlette’s lips.

“You’re good.”
Scarlette swept her legs out from underneath Rileea.
“But not that good.”
Rileea propped herself up on her elbows and swept Scarlette’s feet out from underneath her as well. Scarlette fell hard on her ass.
“Neither are you.”

They both slowly got to their feet, giving one another a cold look. They stared each other down as they brought themselves into a defensive position, circling each other slowly like dogs in a cage match. Scarlette felt cornered. All things considered, Scarlette couldn’t think of a whole lot more she could do to take Rileea down swiftly. She had a hide like a rock and any physical blows barely showed any sort of wear on her. Yet at the same time, all of her little gadgets and distractions would only slow Rileea down, not take her out completely. Which made this fight all the worse because god knows how many combatants left Scarlette had to fight--- the only thing Scarlette could do was outlast her and doing that would probably take every last bit of energy that Scarlette had left. But she had to keep going. She had to win. She simply would have to keep her distance. Keep her distance, let Rileea wear herself out, and maybe then she’ll---
A projection popped up showing a symbol that Scarlette didn’t recognize.

“I concede.”
Scarlette blinked.
Rileea walked up to Scarlette and offered up one of her hands. Scarlette clasped her wrist as a sign of respect.
“Even in the face of uncertainty, you never wavered. When the odds were stacked against you, you fought back harder. Yet in spite of all of that, you also showed restraint--- the mark of a true leader. You have my undying respect, Dangerfield.”
“It’s *Captain* to you,” A grin broke out across Scarlette’s face.

“Welcome aboard the Icarus.”

*Hey everyone! Long time no post!*
*So, recently, I set up a Ko-Fi account over here at: Think of it like a tip jar! If you like my content and have a few extra dollars to spare, consider donating to my Ko-Fi account to support me and the cool things that I make! I also have commissions for personalized poetry if that’s something that’s your style. <3*
*If your budget doesn’t allow for any spare change but you DO have spare time, consider reading my content over here: . I have a blog where I talk about my experiences living with PTSD and the longemore you read my posts, the more money I can make.*
*If neither of those things work for you, just sticking around to read what I make is just as cool too. <3*
*Anyway!* *I hope you enjoyed my first real attempt at a fight scene. We're heading into a little bit of a mini-tournament arch, so expect fights for a couple more chapters. <3*
*You should see this story popping up a lot more often!*
*I’ll be writing lots more in the future. <3*
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Biden's New START and modern nuclear war

Well, boys, I reckon this is it - nuclear combat toe to toe with the Roosskies. Now look, boys, I ain't much of a hand at makin' speeches, but I got a pretty fair idea that something doggone important is goin' on back there. And I got a fair idea the kinda personal emotions that some of you fellas may be thinkin'. Heck, I reckon you wouldn't even be human bein's if you didn't have some pretty strong personal feelin's about nuclear combat. I want you to remember one thing, the folks back home is a-countin' on you and by golly, we ain't about to let 'em down.
Major Kong, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb [quote here] [full film available here at, highly recommend, definitive American dark comedy on the subject]
Hello! We're sort of taking a break from East Asia-specific this week to talk about a great conversation-starter: Thermonuclear war. As developments in this area have not entirely halted in the past few decades, and yet I suspect most [not all--there's probably like one 80-year-old or something] of the readers of this post were either not alive during the Cold War or were too young to really appreciate most of what was happening during that period, I feel that it's important to cover the topic, especially with "great-power competition" being a new buzzword and the possibility that the NPT and the other arms control and limitation agreements that have been prominent for the past few decades falling apart being very real.
I'm sorry in advance if I occasionally get a bit repetitive but I think I've made a fairly comprehensive post on the subject, and I don't think I've particularly biased it one way or the other [though of course, that's what I would think].
Bunker-buster = nuclear warhead designed to destroy hardened sites, like bunkers or missile silos
Nuclear weapon = nuclear bomb = nuclear warhead = weapon that uses an operating principle based on nuclear physics
Thermonuclear weapon = more advanced type of nuclear weapon that uses fusion as its primary energy source rather than fission
Warhead = the part of the weapon that goes boom
Fuze = what sets off the bomb, distinct from fuse, which is an electrical part
Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty = one of the biggest arms control treaties in recent years, barred the US and USSRussia from having land-based missiles that were nuclear capable with a range from 500km to 5500km]
Ballistic missile = missile that travels in ballistic trajectories, fast, difficult to intercept, accuracy problems and always powered by rockets
Cruise missile = missile that travels in the atmosphere, smaller, difficult to intercept but easier than ballistic missiles--but harder to detect, powered by jet engines and air-breathing and thus slower
SRBM = Short-range ballistic missile [1000km range or less, most less than 300km to comply with MTCR or less than 500km to comply with the former INF Treaty]
MRBM = Medium-range ballistic missile [1000km to 3000km range, common in arsenals outside the US and Russia]
IRBM = Intermediate-range ballistic missile [3000km to 5500km range, common in arsenals outside the US and Russia, previously barred by the INF Treaty
ICBM = Intercontinental ballistic missile [5500km+ range, standard in US and Russian arsenals, China, France, and possibly North Korea operate a handful]
SSBN = "boomer" = ballistic missile submarine, nuclear powered and nuclear armed [no conventionally armed ballistic missile subs exist at present to the best of my knowledge, the only proposal being known a Trident conventional version]
Early warning = the systems used to detect missile launches and track them, could be ground-based radars or satellites
MIRV = Multiple independent reentry vehicles, a way to attach multiple warheads to one missile
SLBM = submarine-launched ballistic missile
Tactical nuke = determined by usage, not yield, tactical nukes are meant to be used in conflicts that do not escalate to an all-out nuclear war
Countervalue = a capability to strike against an opponent's cities and hard targets
Counterforce = a capability to strike against an opponent's hardened missile silos
Gravity bomb = nuke dropped from a plane
Nuclear triad = the full set of nuclear delivery methods: Air-launched cruise missiles/bombs, submarine-launched missiles, and ground-based missiles
SDI = "Star Wars" = strategic defense initiative, the origin of all of America's modern missile defense efforts
ABM = anti-ballistic missile
Nuclear sharing = a system via which nuclear warheads, owned by the US, are located in NATO countries [and in the past non-NATO countries] and can be turned over to their management in wartime
Some particular pieces of hardware to know about:
Trident = the submarine-launched ballistic missile currently used by the US and UK, can carry up to 14 warheads in MIRV configuration [typically 4 under treaty limits], solid-fueled and an ICBM as well as a SLBM
Minuteman-III = the current ground-based nuclear deterrent of the United States, ICBM, also MIRVed to handle 3 warheads, built in the 1960s originally and solid-fueled
Peacekeeper = MX = LGM-118 = the most sophisticated ground-based ICBM fielded by the United States and, possibly, by any power, solid-fueled and carried 12 [limited by treaty to 10] MIRVed warheads. Retired in 2005 due to high cost and arms limitation treaties. Meant to replace Minuteman.

1. The Bomb

The very first nuclear bombs relied on fission, the power of splitting atoms of fissile material to generate vast amounts of energy very quickly in a chain reaction. The general principle here is critical mass. Once a critical mass of the fissile material is achieved--usually either Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239--it activates a chain reaction which results in a nuclear explosion. These bombs are very simple in operating principle--pretty much anyone could build one if given the requisite materials. The main problem, and the reason we have not yet seen a nuclear warhead DIY, is that the fissile materials are very difficult to get. One must either synthesize plutonium in an atomic pile or use one of the various methods developed to enrich uranium--gaseous diffusion and centrifuges being the major ones. Either one takes a significant amount of time and specialized equipment, at least to produce nuclear weapons in any quantity. However, when you get down to it, any sufficiently motivated group could build one of these--at least if not stopped by another, more motivated group. Even North Korea could do this.
The next step in evolution was the boosted fission nuke. It represented a nuclear weapon that was more capable, but not radically so. By adding fusion fuel to the nuclear weapon, specifically the fission assembly, you could get a better yield--splitting more of the atoms in the core assembly before it suffered a critical existence failure and got spread out over several square miles. Fission-boosting is also fairly easily done, with the main obstacle being obtaining enough deuterium, lithium, and/or tritium to do the job correctly. These are, to my knowledge, pretty seldom seen; but I would suspect that both Pakistan and North Korea have them.
Thermonuclear weapons are, however, a major leap in capability. Much larger yield warheads can be built, in the multi-megaton range, and miniaturization is also possible, which is very useful for missiles in particular. Thermonuclear weapons rely on adding a fusion "secondary" stage, which is set off by a "primary" fission stage and generates vast quantities of energy. However, thermonuclear weapons are much more difficult to develop than fission-based weapons; largely because they rely on exotic materials and classified physics to operate. The United States itself has had difficulty building new thermonuclear weapons, or refreshing ones in current inventory, because it has lost knowledge of how to build some key materials. Most nuclear powers, however, are believed to or known to possess thermonuclear weapons, the exceptions being Pakistan and North Korea.

2. The Cold War

Nuclear weapons were probably the defining feature of the Cold War, at least once it finally began in earnest in the 1950s. To this day, the Cold War defines the cultural conception of nuclear weapons.
What this is about, though, is more a mechanical than philosophical or sociological discussion, explaining why nukes were, and are, used. Or rather, are planned to be used, because despite hundreds of nuclear tests, nobody has ever used a nuclear weapon in wartime in just over 75 years, since the US dropped a crude plutonium device on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.
The very beginning of nuclear war involved hundreds of strategic bombers--first B-29s, which actually cost more than the Manhattan Project to develop--and then more advanced jet bombers, the most iconic of which and perhaps the most enduring is the B-52 Stratofortress, which the US Air Force expects to remain in service through possibly the end of the century. These were the only viable delivery vehicles, and thus both the US [well, mostly the US] and the Soviet Union rushed to build as many of them as possible, with [unfounded] concerns of a "Bomber Gap" resulting in the construction of thousands of strategic bombers. In the event of war, these bombers would take off from their bases and drop nuclear bombs on enemy positions. For a substantial length in time, the US actually maintained a constant patrol of B-52 bombers with nuclear warheads onboard, which, in the event of a surprise attack, would retaliate against the USSR. It is one of these bombers which Dr Strangelove focuses on--though I should note that only a handful of people actually possessed the ability to launch a nuclear strike, and even then only in contingencies when the president was unavailable, and this persists to this day, excepting submarines--which will be mentioned in a moment.
However, technology marched on, and soon the ballistic missile became the delivery vehicle of choice. Early ballistic missiles were relatively crude, based off of the original V-2 design and whose quality was largely determined by how many Nazis you had stolen at the end of the Second World War. However, technology continued to evolve, and soon ICBMs had enough accuracy to launch countervalue attacks. These attacks targeted cities and aimed to deter an enemy from launching a first strike by ensuring that doing so would destroy the nation of the attacker. This doesn't mean that ballistic missiles were the only delivery method, though. Smaller nuclear weapons were built, designed to be delivered by air. They offered greater accuracy and tactical utility, and lowered the risk of a strategic nuclear exchange breaking out. It was around this time that tactical and strategic nuclear exchanges began to be devised in nuclear theory, with tactical nukes becoming essential to NATO war plans due to the numerical, and sometimes qualitative, inferiority of their conventional forces when faced with Warsaw Pact opponents. Nuclear weapons found their way into practically every kind of format. Nuclear-tipped air-to-air rockets were an early invention, aimed at shooting down massed bomber formations. Nuclear-tipped surface-to-air-missiles soon followed. Nuclear anti-ship missiles, nuclear artillery, and even "backpack nukes" like the Atomic Demolition Munition all were developed for a variety of purposes. Nuclear depth charges, nuclear torpedoes--if you put explosives in something, chances are someone drew up a plan to put a nuke in it. [as an aside, Cold War schemes to use nuclear weapons to perform massive construction projects, such as liquidating the Athabasca Tar Sands or creating a giant salt lake in Egypt, are one of my favorite Cold War relics]. Nukes were the bread and butter of Cold War strategy in a way that seems hardly conceivable today. This is largely why both the US and USSR had stockpiles of tens of thousands of weapons.
Mutual assured destruction, or MAD as it is commonly known, was also derived during this time, suggesting that the way to prevent nuclear war was by ensuring that any initiation of nuclear combat would lead to certain destruction. The development of SSBNs and SLBMs, which provided a way to ensure survivability of the nuclear arsenal and a sure second strike capability--usually countervalue because of the lower accuracy of SLBMs--seemed to make this set in stone. These would avoid destruction in a first strike by hiding within the ocean, and would then launch based off of orders issued from base--or, in the case of Britain, off of orders written by the Prime Minister and secured in the submarines to be opened in event of war.
Unfortunately, life tends to make things more complicated, and this was and is the case with MAD. The first problem that developed was that of the MIRV, or Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle. This allowed missiles to carry large numbers of warheads, as many as twelve in the case of the LGM-118 Peacekeeper [probably the most sophisticated ICBM ever developed, the Soviet R-36 threw 10 and Trident D5 14 smaller warheads]. As a result of this fact, combined with increasing accuracy of reentry vehicles [especially, it is thought, on the part of the United States], a counterforce strike that could eliminate an enemy's ground-based nuclear deterrent became possible. MIRVs also place a high value on first-strike because each MIRVed missile can destroy numerous enemy silos but is correspondingly more vulnerable to first-strike as it replaces a dozen independent missiles with a single one. As a result limitations of MIRVed warheads have been a major focus of arms reduction treaties and several attempts have been made to ban usage of the technology altogether. Other problems complicated the situation further, such as anti-ballistic missiles, which potentially could shelter a nation from a weak second-strike. However, this broadly describes most of the key elements of nuclear war, skipping over the vast cultural and political impacts of nuclear weapons for the most part, because that's not really what I'm focused on here.

3. Arms control and non-proliferation

From the moment the US first got its hands on the bomb, it sought to keep it away from everyone else, including a very miffed Britain which had been promised access to the secrets learned from the Manhattan Project as a result of the contributions of its "Tube Alloys" program to the American development of the bomb. The Atomic Energy Act of 1946, or McMahon Act, has largely set American nuclear policy since its creation. Britain ultimately developed its own nuclear bomb, and the Soviets, in a large part thanks to the involvement of traitorous American nuclear scientists, developed their own bomb as well. By the 1950s, the world was in a frantic race to build the bomb--those who had it, to build more of them, and those who didn't, to get them. Even Sweden ran a nuclear weapons program. France got the bomb, and China did as well--much to the chagrin of the Soviets, who had undergone a dramatic split with the Chinese a few years earlier and whose original research work was invaluable in contributing to the Chinese nuclear program. It must be understood that back in those days building nuclear weapons was much more difficult than it is now, without computers or without even easy resources as to how they functioned. Nowadays, I can learn how to build a nuke off of Wikipedia, and, barring the ten tons of heavy water, hundreds of kilograms of natural uranium, and large quantity of nitric acid required, doing so is a relatively trivial task.
The real shift, however, began around 1970. The first major act in this was the development of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which all the nuclear powers promised to work towards the reduction and abolition of nuclear weapons, and in return the majority of non-nuclear powers agreed not to build nukes, and it is upon this foundation that the modern order is built. However, it has hardly proved perfectly successful--only six years later the detonation of the first Indian nuclear weapon occurred, which had been built using Canadian technology that had not been adequately controlled, or, indeed, controlled at all--the reactors Canada sells are, by the way, essentially DIY kits for nuclear weapons. As a result, an increasingly involved control regime began to be built. The IAEA was founded and membership was generally required for the ownership of nuclear reactors. The nuclear powers banded together to ensure that critical components of nuclear programs were not exported, pressured nations in their own blocs into cancelling nuclear programs [as the US did to both South Korea and Taiwan], and, barring some relatively low-profile cheating on the part of China, which has sold peripheral equipment to North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, this vast patchwork mostly held together. As a result, instead of a predicted 30-40 nuclear weapons states, there are only 9 today.
Also around this time, both the US and USSR recognized that spending large quantities on building ever-increasing quantities of nuclear weapons without either side gaining any decisive advantage was helping absolutely nobody, and the two states began to agree to various reductions in arms and limitations in weapons development, including the ABM treaty and SALT.

4. Anti-ballistic missiles and Star Wars

Eventually, starting in around the 1970s, people got the idea that maybe you could stop ICBMs. This sounds absolutely ludicrous--but it wasn't, per se, impossible, and it led to a lot of really advanced, science-fiction sounding technology.
The very first method was to launch interceptor rockets that carried H-bombs of their own, aiming to detonate them close enough to the missiles that they would either destroy the reentry vehicles, their electronics, or cause a non-critical "fissile" of the warhead. This was halted, however, by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, one of the first big arms limitations agreements, and also by a simple fact: Ground-based missile interceptors are generally much more expensive than building additional missiles--for instance, the US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense costs more to produce, missile for missile, than a LGM-118 with 12 warheads. This treaty actually held for its full term, despite what you may have expected, as it did not limit research, only the actual building of anti-ballistic missile systems, and actually, IIRC, excluded space-based defenses via omission. However, until Ronald Reagan came along, the idea of ABMs was largely cast to the wayside.
Reagan, however, revived the idea quite famously in his Strategic Defense Initiative, dubbed "Star Wars" by many. It explored a number of ideas, many of which were quite outlandish--one of the more successful proposals, at least in terms of how much funding or attention was devoted to it, involved setting off nuclear warheads in space to power x-ray lasers to shoot down enemy missiles, which if nothing else sounded really cool. By far the most practical program to emerge out of this, however [a rather relative merit], was called "Brilliant Pebbles". It relied on a constellation of tens of thousands of kinetic interceptors, small, only a few kilograms each, which would target and destroy any ballistic missiles in low orbit. This plan was supposed to solve the issue where interceptors were more expensive than missiles, and allow the US unquestioned missile superiority.
It was also around this time when surface-to-air missile systems, originally designed with the mission to shoot down aircraft, began gaining limited anti-ballistic missile capabilities, which were... somewhat underwhelming in the Gulf War, though the technology was brand new at the time.

5. Peace dividend

When the Cold War finally ended, one of the parts of the peace dividend that probably made more sense than most was the vast savings made on nuclear weapons. The trend had already begun in the late Cold War, but once the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, stockpiles fell from tens of thousands of warheads to just a few thousand on the part of the US and Russia. All sides had a vested interest in arms reduction, and so those thousands of warheads were disassembled and largely turned into fuel for nuclear reactors.
Ballistic missile defenses also got cut. The original Brilliant Pebbles scheme was cancelled and replaced with a less-expensive but substantially less effective program called the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, which relies on a relative handful of interceptor missiles in Alaska to shoot down ballistic missiles in the midcourse stage; primarily designed with China or North Korea in mind [oddly enough the first ballistic missile defense program of the US was also designed with the intent of stopping a Chinese nuclear attack]. Ironically Ground-Based Midcourse Defense ended up costing a large portion [more than half] of what the final Brilliant Pebbles implementations were proposed at, for a system with very limited capabilities [this cancellation may have also been part of what killed the DC-X spacecraft].
Vast fleets of SSBNs were disassembled. Expensive delivery platforms and programs, like the MX Peacekeeper, were scrapped. All in all, the threat of nuclear war practically vanished, excepting on the subcontinent, where India and Pakistan engaged in nuclear showboating multiple times. It's really hard to understate the sheer magnitude of what happened, with the number of warheads in existence shrinking from around 70,000 to 10,000 or so, with around half of those today being inactive. The US Navy went from stocking multiple warheads on each ship to removing them entirely from the fleet, aside from, of course, the SSBNs.
The successor states of the USSR, aside from Russia itself, were successfully convinced to hand over their nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees--Ukraine most infamously--and their fissile materials were turned into [relatively] harmless nuclear fuel. South Africa became the first nation with an independently developed nuclear arsenal to voluntarily denuclearize, admittedly largely out of fear of what the black population might do with the bomb.
Other areas saw major reductions and non--proliferation efforts. The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program decommissioned large quantities of nuclear delivery vehicles and Soviet biological and chemical weapons sites. The Missile Technology Control Regime expanded and enveloped most nations with the capability to develop ballistic missiles and long-range cruise missiles, making nuclear weapons delivery difficult for the aspiring third world dictator--for instance, an Iraqi program to develop a ballistic missile in partnership with Argentina was scrapped by American pressure and Argentine admittance into the MTCR. While India and Pakistan still harassed each other, their open non-nuclear conventional war assuaged some concerns while raising others [perhaps nuclear powers could engage in conventional war after all]. Nuclear programs in several countries were stopped by diplomatic pressure, as in Libya, rather than by Israeli bombing campaigns.
For a time, all was peaceful. In the last decade or so, however, things have changed--and for the most part, they have done so below the radar of even Washington policymakers.

6. A Return To The Old Days?

Things in the past decade or so, however, have changed the nuclear situation substantially.
First on the list is that North Korea now has nuclear weapons and, it seems, a deterrent. This has seriously tested the efficacy of non-proliferation already, with the merit of non-proliferation when North Korea and Pakistan have weapons being rather suspect. Iran is also building nukes. North Korea's case was, and is, dangerous in particular because it suggests that, barring strong support from a great power, nukes are the only way to maintain autonomy [Ukraine and Libya both offering examples of why surrendering nukes, or even a nuclear program, is a bad idea to the world], and that they aren't too difficult to get. North Korea also may well already be engaging in proliferation activities as a revenue source--it's already known that they sell ballistic missile delivery vehicles and have exported materials related to chemical weapons production in the past, so exporting nuclear technology is hardly a stretch, especially given that North Korea is not seriously threatened by these activities and they provide a useful revenue source for the regime. As a result, the non-proliferation circle built over decades by the various great powers now has a rather large North Korea-shaped hole in it. This, however, isn't leading to big changes in Russia, China, and the United States. Rather, technological advancements, largely by the US and China, are slowly nibbling away at the tenuous nuclear peace.
Second is the problem, for Russia, created by the new Trident super-fuze. Under cover of a "refurbishment" of the Trident warhead family, a new fuze was introduced. However, this fuze is no mere one-for-one replacement: Instead, it allows the warhead to detonate within a range of zones that could destroy the target, allowing warheads that would previously overfly the target and miss to instead detonate in an airbust directly above said target. In effect, it increased the power of Trident by as many as five times, and has made it into a counterforce or first strike weapon. Quoted figures are a .86 probability of kill for a 10kpsi target, about as hard as defensive structures get, and .99 probability of kill for a standard, 2kpsi hardened target. As most of Russia's missile silos are only secure to the point of the latter, and Russia uses liquid-fueled ICBMs for the most part that are much more sensitive to attack than Western or Chinese solid-fueled ones, what this means is that Trident is now capable of wiping out Russia's entire ground-based strategic deterrent at extremely short notice. This has, it seems, quite possibly frightened Russian leadership, and is the likely reason why they have been desperately trying to devise new outlandish delivery vehicles, like an unmanned nuclear torpedo or a nuclear-powered cruise missile. This is further complicated by the fact that Russia has more or less completely lost its space-based ballistic missile warning network and does not seem to have the capability to replace it, which means that Russia must rely on land-based early warning radars to inform it of a nuclear strike. As a result, Russia will have as little as ten minutes of warning for an incoming nuclear attack, and will have essentially no idea what it will look like or what scale it is on. When Russian sources say they'll treat any ballistic missile strike as a nuclear attack, they probably aren't lying, because their sensor network is so bad they can't tell whether a sounding rocket is a nuclear first strike, and their survivability is so bad they can't afford to not launch.
There's also the interesting problem presented by the development of a new low-yield Trident warhead. While it might possibly have some use, many believe that low-yield nuclear weapons are dangerous because they blur the line between conventional and tactical nuclear war, and the use of Trident as a delivery vehicle runs a substantial risk on account of the fact that it may be difficult for an adversary [such as Russia] to discern that the vehicle is a tactical nuclear strike rather than the beginning of a strategic exchange. These same very concerns scuppered a conventional variant of Trident proposed for the Prompt Global Strike program, which would have used Trident to launch large conventional payloads, a bad idea for multiple reasons.
Arms agreements that defined the 1990s and 2000s have also begun to fall apart. The cancellation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was just the latest in what has been a slowly escalating trend since the 2002 expiration of the anti-ballistic missile treaty. The Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, for instance, which required the US and Russia to convert their stockpiles of plutonium into MOX reactor fuel, is also dead, ostensibly for financial reasons on the part of the US, but quite possibly to allow the US to retain its 80+ tons of plutonium in a diluted form so it can be easily converted back into warheads [keep in mind only a few kilograms of plutonium is needed for a warhead so we're talking about thousands of devices in the several hundred kiloton range].
Why this is happening is an interesting question, and it seems that both the US and Russia [but, to be honest, mostly the US] are involved in the end of these arms restriction treaties. The first problem, and most obvious, is China. China has a general policy of not engaging in arms-limitation treaties, viewing them as a way for dominant powers to retain their position, and has a nuclear arms reduction policy that amounts to "get rid of all of your nukes and then we'll talk". With China becoming an increasingly significant threat to the United States, the arms controls placed on it by agreement with Russia have become problematic for American strategic planners. In particular, the limitation on intermediate-range forces was seen as a major difficulty given the increasingly capable conventionally armed intermediate range ballistic and cruise missiles that are one of the edges the PLAN holds; and, I suspect [but cannot prove] that planners within the US government view tactical nuclear war with China as a very real thing they should plan for, with the US using nukes first to gain a decisive tactical advantage and not escalating to a strategic exchange--this is enabled by the fact that China has essentially no tactical nuclear weapons, seems to believe it can avoid nuclear war with the United States [or possibly not--I've heard both], and a very small strategic stockpile of which only around 50 missiles can hit the continental US. Russia, on the other hand, has a rather different problem. Its conventional forces in Europe are inferior in quality and quantity to what NATO can field, so it has to plan to make up the difference with nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the increasing sophistication of American capabilities in ways which Russia simply cannot match means that the survivability of the Russian nuclear force is beginning to be called into question, and thus a larger arsenal is required to ensure that a strategic deterrent can be maintained as it has traditionally. As a result, both parties are abandoning arms treaties with, well, reckless abandon.
Finally, the development of increasingly capable ballistic missile defenses, especially by the United States--which now holds pretty much all the cards in the event of nuclear war--means that nations will be required to develop either new and more sophisticated delivery vehicles, or, alternatively, produce more warheads, to ensure that they can maintain deterrence. These include the SM-3 anti-ballistic missile, which can intercept ballistic missiles in the midcourse stage, though only shorter ranged ones and not full ICBMs at the moment, and which is being deployed by the US not only aboard its numerous destroyer fleet but also in "AEGIS Ashore" sites in Eastern Europe [which also caused concern by Russia because these units could easily fire ground-launched cruise missiles that were banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty], and were to be deployed in Japan before local opposition halted construction. The US also designed THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, which provides an interceptor to destroy even ICBMs in the terminal stage, and has made significant improvements to the Patriot missile system which enhance its ABM capabilities. The US has also discussed reviving technologies from previously abandoned schemes such as the YAL-1, a 747 that aimed to shoot down ballistic missiles with lasers at a range of hundreds of kilometers [though it was suggested the new implementation be on a stealth drone] and even considered further research into space-based interceptors--which seem far more feasible in a day and age when private companies are already putting up constellations of advanced communications satellites in similar numbers to those proposed for the "Brilliant Pebbles" scheme.

7. Conclusion

As a result of these shifts, the current lull in nuclear war preparations and small nuclear arsenals of today may not last much longer. Indeed, to an extent, the lull has already ended.
Without a doubt Biden will try to negotiate a renewal of New START--he himself has stated his intent to do so multiple times, but the short time window he has in which to renew it [it expires on 5 February 2021, little more than a week after his inauguration] means that whether he will be successful is uncertain. Even if New START is renewed or brought back in a new form I would expect it to be much less restrictive and a de facto abandonment of the arms reduction that has characterized the last thirty years of nuclear policy. I also don't think that New START, even extended, will last past 2026--that's the point when major nuclear modernizations are set to begin to the US arsenal, including the introduction of the Columbia-class SSBN into service and replacement of the 1960s-era Minuteman III ICBM that constitutes the ground-based deterrent.
Both the US and Russia are poised to make major modernizations to their nuclear arsenals and I expect both of their stockpiles to grow barring a renewal of New START as presently constituted. I also expect that the US may well begin preparing to build new facilities for nuclear weapons production, as its old ones have pretty much all closed at this point. Nuclear weapons may also begin to see a return to the naval field, with nuclear-tipped anti-ship missiles and torpedoes possibly seeing revivals--watch for a return to the US's historic nuclear ambiguity policy on whether or not its ships carry nuclear weapons.
New forecasts say that China is poised to double its nuclear arsenal in the next decade, and I suspect these ones will actually turn out, because China knows that their arsenal at present is too small to pose an effective deterrent to tactical nuclear war and may, within a relatively short time, become an ineffective strategic deterrent.
The list of states with nuclear weapons is likely to grow--South Korea is a near sure bet for reasons I have described previously, but I would not be surprised to see more states get the bomb. Iran seems likely to build one unless stopped via force, and they've gotten quite close already. However, more than the number of states which will possess nuclear weapons outright will grow, I predict a major expansion in nations which attempt to reach a nuclear-latent state. The recent burst of smallsat launchers provides a perfect cover for ballistic missile systems to be developed; drone technology and electronics have made cruise missiles easier than ever to design, and nuclear power will be sought after by a large number of states with potentially ulterior motives--once a sufficient stockpile of used fuel is made reprocessing it to extract the plutonium within is relatively trivial, and I expect more states to push for reprocessing technology and "full control over the nuclear fuel-cycle". As a result, strategic planners may ultimately have to reckon with a world in which most nations [or far more than the 9 current nuclear-armed states] could well develop modest nuclear arsenals within a few months to a few years.
As for what the US should do--well, my opinion is that the US should just embrace the inevitable. During the Cold War, the US saw that France wasn't going to be stopped from building the bomb--so instead they helped the French build their weapons and thus gained the trust and friendship of the entire French strategic community, at least to an extent where their nuclear and even conventional forces were de facto reintegrated into NATO.
That has lessons for today, I think. If something is going to happen one way or another, the US should just embrace it and try to help the process along and gain the trust and friendship of the nation involved, provided such a move is not directly contrary to American interests. For instance, take South Korea. If it becomes clear that South Korea intends to build nuclear weapons, the US would be better off discretely enabling that by amending its Section 123 agreement and clandestinely supporting the program than trying to fight it.
The US should also seriously reconsider whether it should maintain a non-proliferation stance, although I can see strong cases on both sides. Non-proliferation has failed to stop Pakistan or North Korea, and at that point it's really rather questionable whether it works, but for the moment it's the only thing that's holding the Middle East and world as a whole back from a nuclear arms race. If Iran does get the bomb, I doubt that the US will continue to hold onto that position. At that point [or this point] most of the nations the US doesn't want to have the bomb either already have it, cannot be stopped from getting it without war, or just flat out can't build it due to lack of money, will, and resources. It's unlikely that the US will openly support proliferation, especially Congress, but I find it quite probable that the US may well take a "wink-and-a-nudge" approach to the whole issue. A Section 123 Agreement might be amended to allow reprocessing and a solid-fuelled smallsat launcher sold or authorized, but how was the US government to know that the nation was pursuing nuclear weapons?
Furthermore, the US should start preparing as if an all-out nuclear arms race may resume, because it may well do so. Developing a new comprehensive ballistic missile defense strategy is part of this, possibly including Brilliant Pebbles--I'm a strong advocate of at least researching the solution especially given that so many hurdles already have been met by private companies like SpaceX--but also terminal defenses and directed-energy weapons. The US should also begin thoroughly examining the use of nuclear weapons in a modern context and prepare facilities needed for the production of additional warheads, including possibly a lithium-separation site to manufacture additional tritium, as well as reprocessing sites to produce additional plutonium.
[citations in comments due to max character limit]
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