Thoughts on finishing The Arithmancer

I just finished The Arithmancer and I thought I should resume the habit of writing some thoughts down after I finish reading something. Spoilers, as usual. I’m including all 3 books in this not-review, The Arithmancer, Lady Archimedes, and Annals of Arithmancy, since they’re a series.

I thought it was great. Better than the original Harry Potter, even. Granted, I’ve only read Harry Potter once around 10 years ago, and The Arithmancer is, I assume, designed to appeal to STEM types more than the original.

I love its worldbuilding. Weaving math into the fundamentals of magic is a fascinating take on arithmancy, which practically didn’t appear in the originals. Using real world math in the story is a nice touch as well, thought I do hope the author had shown their work for the more complicated spells. It seemed like a lot of the time, especially in Lady Archimedes when we get to the horcruxes, the best we got was some handwaving about arithmantic inverses, not even a mention of which branch of math was being used, when earlier they did mention light transmission curves shaped like a parabola or an elliptic curve to block out a basilisk’s eyes. I hoped for more of that, but the later parts failed to deliver.

I also never thought I’d say this, but the latter parts of the series are too physicsy for my tastes. Mathematics is a physics-adjacent field, of course, so I’m not surprised Hermione would know some physics, like light and carbon nanotubes and stuff, but things like colored gems I’m surprised she would dig into. I didn’t think someone who likes math for its own sake would dig into the mess of the real world like that. Another example is in Annals, where she actually took experimental data (the horror!) on antihydrogen. Granted, she could be an applied mathematician, but ultimately the lack of mathematical details on the magic she did hurt the story, in my opinion.

There are also a couple of things that I’m sad the author never followed up on: The Iambic Pentameter Curse, for one, which is somewhat understandable due to its long incantation taking away from its practicality, but a disappointment nonetheless. Wandless wand summoning, for another, featured once in the entire series after Hermione did it accidentally the first time. Some other plot points were also saddening: Septima getting a traumatic brain injury that stopped her from doing arithmancy. Bill Weasley and Snape dying, as well as the Barty Crouch Jr. raid going poorly for Parvati Patil. I was also somewhat disappointed that Hermione never ended up going to Slytherin, given the Sorting Hat’s insistence, but that was saved by her daughter having ambition to spare (by which I mean she ended up going to Slytherin).

The one scene that alerted me to the author having read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality was the dementor “boo!” scene. The methods were different, but the result was the same, and I was not too happy about this. I felt the latter half of Lady Archimedes gave off HPMOR vibes when the earlier chapters and the book before hid the inspiration well.

The last chapter of Annals of Arithmancy also didn’t age quite well. Biden got the nomination, and apparently magic stopped someone from having bat soup. One thing I’m sad about is that around maybe half of Annals is fanfic fuel, only going over some events in broad strokes when each of the events can by themselves be a whole story by themselves.

The portrayal of Hermione as her specific type of Christian was also a questionable move to me, considering her background (highly educated child of dentists, English, irregular churchgoer), which meant it is more likely that she is practically irreligious, maybe a C&E Christian. I think the author based her off Christians in the US, who are much more into it. I could be wrong, but that is the impression that British Christianity and US Christianity give me. I also don’t mean the last sentence to absolve me of all responsibility of getting it right (since I do think it is), but I’ll also admit I haven’t looked deeply into the differences.

But on another note, I thought the shout-outs were nice. The boggart Weeping Angel made a particularly fun one-shot.

I’m also glad Umbridge got her comeuppance. Quite possibly more than she deserved, but still.

4/5

By vampyricon

Legends of Runeterra Patch 1.14

Patch notes are here: https://playruneterra.com/en-us/news/patch-1-14-notes/

I really like it. I’m actually surprised that Miss Fortune/Quinn is doing so well in the meta (>0.55 win rate), so I might go back to maining them again. I did a survey (unofficial) on the state of the meta a few days ago, which helped me form concrete thoughts about what exactly I liked and disliked, and this patch actually hit quite a few cards I’ve mentioned, if not exactly in the way I suggested.

Trundle

Trundle’s nerf was exactly as I wanted: His health was too high to kill in one turn, and the fact that he regenerates means you won’t kill him. Especially after his level up on turn 8 bringing him to 7 health. I do see why they nerfed Ice Pillar, but that might be a bit too much imo. Ah well, we’ll wait and see, I guess. I hope this double nerf doesn’t nerf him to the ground, because even though he’s strong, I do like the Behold granting stats mechanic.

Ezreal

They did it better than I could ever suggest. An earlier nerf made him level up when he targets 10+ enemy units, up from 8+. So the genius that I was suggested (in the survey) that Riot should buff him to 9+ units. So when I saw they buffed him to 6+ units I was like WTF, but the mini-rework of his level 2 ability balanced it out. His Nexus damage is halved unless the spell targets an enemy. Now that his levelled-up ability is a Nexus ping, I wonder if he’ll work with Sejuani?

Vladimir

I thought he was too weak, and they did rework him, but I’m not sure how much better that makes him. His associated cards are the Crimson Cultists (I think that’s the name. I might be mixing them up with something from Thaumcraft.) which is basically the self-harm/burn aggro archetype. (I say that because only the Crimson Disciple sees any play.) So I wonder if a Soraka burn archetype might work?

Other cards

I certainly didn’t expect Tianna Crownguard and Minah Swiftfoot to get buffed. The Minah buff is huge. (Huge buff, not necessarily a huge change to the meta.) Though she’s probably seeing the most play in a Feel the Rush counter, and I’m not sure how huge of an impact she’ll have there. If she’s played before the opponent’s FtR, her attack isn’t big enough to kill their champions, who would be 10|10, but if she’s played after, and recalls their champions, you would probably have won the game anyway with your own FtR the next turn.

Funsmith is a welcome change. Would love to see her actually played.

4-damage pings are starting to become common with Black Spear‘s change. Now even a pre-nerf Wyrding Stones couldn’t escape its damage. I think this is a big change to the meta as a whole, as being at 4 health before meant the card is out of many damage ranges, and your opponent would have to spend at least 2 spells to deal with it, with the only major exception being Jaull Hunters’ 4|1 Challenger statline. I’m not counting Ravenous Flock because the card has to be used on damaged units (which means the unit has more health than 4). I’m talking 4 health in general. As for Wyrding Stones itself, it would be even easier to kill, given its 3 health statline. 3 damage pings are still more common, after all, and Avalanches must be used much more carefully, especially if the opponent is playing Bilgewater or Shadow Isles.

Riptide Rex might see some fun synergies with Ezreal, because he levels him up instantly even after the nerf. I didn’t think Rex was too OP, given the number of high-health units present in the meta nowadays with Feel the Rush and Dragons. (Though to be honest I might change my tune after I get board-wiped by one.) Spamming out the spell limit is definitely an issue though, but I’m not sure how they couldn’t just change it to one spell that targets 7 enemies. Now that I think about it, it might be a problem with visibility. Double-targeting the same unit would make the two targeting lines overlap.

The high health thing comes into play again with Eclipse Dragon. Again, didn’t expect the change.

Consistency

I liked the consistency changes with Lucian and Jinx. Not much to say. I love consistency.

Disappointments

Lee Sin. Lee Sin is still a disappointment. There’s still no counterplay to the Overwhelm Lee Sin combo unless you have some way of killing Lee Sin directly, which means you need yet another ping to get rid of his Barrier. I think making it so that Overwhelm doesn’t work on levelled-up Lee Sin would be a way of dealing with this, or that Dragon Rage removes Overwhelm for the round. To compensate, I think striking the enemy unit could allow for Overwhelm to go through. So the first strike on the enemy unit would be as if you were directly attacking, so if your Lee Sin’s attack is greater than their health, the damage would leak through to the Nexus, then Lee Sin strikes the Nexus directly. An example: A levelled-up 5|8 Lee Sin challenges a 4|2 unit. On striking the unit, he deals 3 damage to the Nexus. Then he deals another 5 damage to the Nexus, totalling at 8 damage. So kind of like an Overwhelm-Double Attack combo, but you recall the unit after the first strike. More details in a hopefully upcoming post about stuff I want to change about LoR.

But what do I know? I’m just a lowly Silver player.