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A Lengthy, Comprehensive Analysis of “The Last of Us: Part II”’s Controversy, Responding to Prominent Criticisms, and Discussing Criticisms of My Own

About a month ago, I wrote a post to provide some clarity regarding the leak Naughty Dog sprung about a month ago. In it, I addressed some of the criticisms that were being levied at the time without unveiling any of the spoiled material, that way my curious spoiler-virgins would go unsullied until release day. There, I explained why all the major criticisms at the time weren't (and still aren't) warranted. Toward the end of the post, I noted that the outrage was not only political, but also emotional. I correctly predicted that there would be some spoiler-virgins that would not be pleased with the game's controversial narrative direction. I wish I'd been taking bets because not only was I right, I was right to an extent I never imagined. The response to this game has been chaotic, to say the least. This post will explore this phenomenon, directly respond to the most prominent criticisms and those who make them, and address my own criticisms of the game (as well as how I believe those flaws can be fixed).

Part 1: The Chaotic Controversy

I need to lay my cards on the table: I thought this was a fantastic game. Having purposefully indulged in the leaks back in April, I knew about every major death/plot twist before it happened, and I approached the story with an open mind. While I thought TLOU was a great game, TLOU2 blew me away with its darker, more complicated themes, the tiny details that collectively enrich the game's themes of gray morality, superb character interactions, the gosh diddly darn adorable relationship between Ellie and Dina, the endearing big sister-little siblings dynamic between Abby and Yara/Lev, and the excellently crafted set pieces that made each part of the game unique. I also loved the new gameplay mechanics that made stealth satisfying, such as crafting silencers for the pistol or taking cover in tall grass/ferns. It irks me to no end that such an obviously great game has received so much undeserved abuse. Can it be criticized? Of course it can. There's always room for criticism, but I think this is downright pathetic.
It should be noted that this avalanche of negative reception is not coming from a single body of grievances. It is, in fact, coming from up to at least three different factions. Sometimes there is crossover between factions, but a member of one faction should not be immediately assumed to belong to another.
Faction 1: "Get Woke, Go Broke!"- The Reactionaries
Not every person who dislikes/criticizes TLOU2 is a homophobe/transphobe/racist/misogynist. Make no mistake, though: there is a significant portion of "h8ers" that most certainly are angry at this game solely for its unapologetic progressivism. These are The Reactionaries. The anti-SJWs.The anti-feminists. The "YouTube skeptics". The traditionalists. Whatever you want to call them. Back in 2018, TLOU2 took E3 by storm with not only a gameplay trailer but also a front-and-center kiss between Ellie and Dina, marking a historic moment for LGBT inclusion in video games. While the explicit romance did receive some negative feedback from The Reactionaries1, the worst was yet to come. Fast forward to April of 2020. Naughty Dog sprung a devastating leak that revealed every card TLOU2 had up its sleeve. Controversy ensued, particularly around a new character named Abby, who was presumed to be male-to-female transgender due to her masculine features and silhouette. A contemptuous amount of abusive anti-transgender slurs and jokes were subsequently forwarded against Abby on places like 4chan, Reddit, and even YouTube. These assumptions ended up being bullshit, but that didn’t stop TLOU2 from solely representing itself. No, April 2020 was the moment this game became more than itself; it became a symbol for progressivism in high-profile video games–a perceived weapon in a culture war. If you think these people and their audiences only make up a small portion of this outrage mob, think again:
1Name: "Naughty Dog's SJW Agenda in Gaming Exposed"
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 160,000+

Name: “Last of Us Part 2 Ending Leaks Reveal Progressive Agenda”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 70,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Influenced by SJW Anita Sarkeesian”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 100,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Spoiler Talk, This Gets Really Woke!”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 65,000+

Name: “LGBT Activists: The Last of Us 2 Needs MORE WOKE Representation!”
Uploaded by: Lauren Chen (Roaming Millennial)
Views: 30,000+

Name: “The Last of Us Part 2 LEAKS ONLINE | Another Franchise Falls To SJW Pandering”
Uploaded by: Geeks + Gamers
Views: 180,000+
Sometimes it seems like TLOU2 goes out of its way to stick it to these people, what with its female-driven narrative, unapologetic pro-LGBT stance, and racial diversity. It should be said that TLOU2’s progressivism is a neutral element in terms of how it contributes to the story’s quality, and the game should be neither defended or criticized solely on these grounds. It is, however, a heartening sign that these people’s neanderthalic values are dying out. Stay mad, you slobbering troglodytes.
To close this section, it is undeniable that this specific contention with TLOU2 is not in the minority of the overall controversy surrounding the game. If you are not a fan of this game for unrelated reasons, I’m afraid it is a fact of life that you are going to have to perpetually disavow and distance yourself from these people when you criticize the game. Some of The Reactionaries are wise enough to realize that “it’s bad because it’s woke” is a flimsy criticism, so they will cling to any other criticism that simultaneously grants them credibility and tears the game down, no matter how unwarranted or slanderous that criticism is. They are disguising themselves as one of you. If you are arguing about this game with someone, do not get mad at your interlocutor when they have to verify that your criticism doesn’t come from a place of bigotry, and stop pretending everyone is eager to use bigotry as a scapegoat that dismisses good-faith criticism.
Faction 2: “Neil Disrespected the Fans!” - The Entitled Fan
The Entitled Fan thinks TLOU2 is a poorly-written game simply because they did not like the themes it explores or the narrative direction it takes. Whatever it was they wanted, TLOU2 didn’t do it, so that means the game had bad writing!
Faction 2, on the surface, is similar to another group of people I dub “The Disappointed Fan”, but there’s a key difference that separates the two: whether or not they think the game was poorly written, and if they do think the game was poorly written, why they think the game was poorly written. The Disappointed Fan is not its own faction because they can fall into either Faction 3 (which I will discuss next) or Faction 2. When The Disappointed Fan falls into Faction 2, that is when they evolve into The Entitled Fan.
Before we proceed with my addressal of this faction, let me make something really clear: if you didn’t like the game because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be, this section doesn’t apply to you unless you think the game was poorly written because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be. Got that? This isn’t me calling you entitled just because the game disappointed you. With that said, let’s move on.
Never go into a piece of media with expectations.
Judging by a lot of the discourse I’ve seen regarding this game, many people were expecting to simply get more of what TLOU was, this time with prettier graphics. As such, I’ve seen several posts, videos, comments, etc. that keep comparing TLOU2 to TLOU, then criticizing it for not containing a certain element that was in TLOU.
“TLOU Ellie was funny, but now she’s not.”
“TLOU was about a blossoming father-daughter relationship, but TLOU2 shits all over that.”
“TLOU had Ellie’s immunity as a source of hope. TLOU2 is just nihilistic and depressing.”
“TLOU didn’t throw a character I don’t like at me and force me to play as her.”
Stop. Stop judging this game for what it’s not. Judge this game for what it set out to do and how well it did so.
So what did this game set out to do? TLOU2 sought to be a dark tragedy surrounding the true toll of violence on the end of the perpetrator and the recipient. It’s a tale showing how a tragedy blackened our plucky heroine into a beast aching for destruction which, in the end, only resulted in more tragedy. It’s a tale that explores how the heroes in our eyes may be the villains in the eyes of another and vice versa. Hot dog did it depict these themes with brutal proficiency. Whether or not you personally like these themes or the writer’s decision to explore them is irrelevant to the story’s artistic quality. To act otherwise is beyond annoying; it’s childish and entitled. Yeah, I said it. I think it’s outrageously entitled for someone to lash out at a writer for not writing a story the way they wanted it to be written.
I think TLOU2, for its depressing themes/atmosphere, is of a specific, bitter taste many may not find appetizing. That's fine. Personally, I get a thrill out of stories that take the Shakespearean tragedy angle because stories that give its protagonist(s) an undeservedly tragic ending are rare and particularly gutsy. I think this direction, on top of being unique, is fascinating... and most of all, especially fitting for a world like TLOU. Let me ask you something: did you honestly think this game was going to give Ellie or Joel a happy ending? TLOU has always been a grim series about the loss of everything people held dear. Their homes. Their security. Their family. Their friends. Their own lives. Those who are calling TLOU2 "ToNaLlY iNcOnSiStEnT" must've missed how TLOU depicted this inescapable aspect of this hellscape: it sucks for everyone, and nobody is safe! If TLOU2 never had the guts to pull off what it pulled off, the series as a whole would've wound up bankrupt of stakes and suspense. Who the hell’s going to care about an action scene if we knew the author couldn't scrounge up the temerity to disrobe the main characters of their plot-armor?
If you were disappointed that the game did not meet your expectations... I'm sorry. I genuinely am. It sucks when something you've been looking forward to ends up being different from what you were expecting. This is why I said what I said near the beginning of this section: never go into a piece of media with expectations. Chances are, they won't be fulfilled. Not only will expectations leave you disappointed, they'll also close you off to something you may have otherwise appreciated.
Unfortunately, many fans were already too emotionally attached to Ellie and Joel to possibly consider the idea that they're villains in another perspective (especially the latter). The game wasn’t even asking the players to like Abby and co. over Team Jackson; it just wanted you to at least acknowledge that Abby’s course of action was sympathetic in her perspective. There's nothing inherently bad about being emotionally attached to a character, but Jesus Christ is it frustrating when that emotional attachment makes people unreceptive to an unconventional narrative direction.
Naughty Dog decided to take a controversial, but fitting, route with the next chapter of TLOU, and whether some people like it or not, they did an outstanding job. No, the professional critics were not bribed by Sony. No, the defenders are not deliriously fooling themselves into liking the game because they spent years emotionally invested in the project. No, the defenders are not SJWs who “secretly know the game sucks but are defending it because it advances their political agenda”. We've simply looked beyond our emotional biases and saw this game for what it is: a nuanced, gut-wrenching tragedy. I'm sick of hearing otherwise from a bunch of entitled children who are too busy longing for a game that isn't there instead of analyzing the game that is.
Faction 3: “Why ‘The Last of Us: Part II’ Doesn’t Work” - The Good Faith Critics
The final hostile faction against this game are The Good Faith Critics. While they accuse TLOU2 of being poorly written, they do so not through an emotional or political lens, but through a critical lens. While I have counterarguments to almost all of their criticisms, Faction 3 tends to be the least toxic of the three factions. For that, I tip my hat to most of them for actually behaving like civil adults that are capable of having a critical discussion about TLOU2’s potential hiccups.
I will address their most prominent criticisms one-by-one in the next part of this post. But first I need to mention the last combatant in this bloody battleground:
The Opposing Side: The Professional Critics
While the audience response to TLOU2 is almost literally split straight down the middle, the professional response to has been overwhelmingly homogeneous in TLOU2's favor.
It has been a common sentiment that professional art critics/reviewers are pompous and not worth listening to–that their "professional opinion" is not worth more than the average Joe's. This sentiment stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the job of a media critic. It is the job of critics and analysts to know how to take a story apart and understand what makes it tick. Once they've arrived at a proper diagnosis, they relay it to their audience. The audience can then make an informed decision over whether or not that movie/game/book/etc. is worth their time or money. Professional critics are supposed to abandon their personal opinions and emotions while reviewing a work and view it strictly through an analytical lens.
That said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that almost all of this game’s praise is coming from the people who are specifically trained to disassemble and analyze the inner mechanisms of a story… and almost all of the antagonism is made by... oh, how do I put this... casuals who in large part have no interest or experience in the art of storytelling (in addition to the YouTubers who’ve realized they can make some sweet ad revenue off the outrage).
And no, I'm not siding with the critics here because they affirm my enjoyment of this game. There are plenty of cases in which I agree with critical praise for pieces of art I personally don't like, my favorite example being "Persona 5". I went into "Persona 5" with an open mind genuinely believing I'd fall in love with it. The opposite happened. I couldn't connect or empathize with the characters for the life of me. I thought the gameplay was restrictive and repetitive. I didn't like the jazzy music style. I didn't like the minimalistic, toon-shaded art style. Suffice it to say I don't like "Persona 5". However, despite my personal opinions on "Persona 5", I'd be insane to dare insist it is a bad game. While they failed to click with me, the characters were fleshed out, rarely written with inconsistent behavior, and had a ton of rich dialogue. While it's not to this metalhead's taste, the snazzy music is competently composed and played. The gameplay features unique mechanics that were sturdily programmed (i.e., very few bugs/glitches). "Persona 5" deserved every 5/5, 10/10, 90%+ score it got because it is a well-crafted game. Anybody who's honest should be able to say the same for TLOU2, regardless of whether or not they personally enjoyed it.
It is worth mentioning that there is a certain sect of the internet, usually those from Factions 1 and 2 (or both), that insist there was an under-the-table quid pro quo that occurred between Sony and major game reviewers. As I do with every conspiracy theorist I encounter, I’ll simply quote the late Christopher Hitchens to these people: “that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Let’s move on.

Part 2: Responding to Criticisms

"If I were to lose you, I would surely lose myself."
Joel's song at the beginning of the game foreshadows Ellie's spiral into darkness. The blackening of Ellie's personality over the course of the game was not bad or inconsistent writing, it was intentional and seamlessly executed. One of the first things that struck me as I played through the first few hours of the game was how consistent Ellie's dialogue was with the last game. As the game progresses, Ellie devolves into a restless, cold-blooded girl who is fixated on nothing but vengeance, even if that means throwing away a peaceful life. All of this culminates into one of the game's most important scenes, where Ellie finally realizes that her pursuit of revenge stripped her of everything she held dear–even herself.
A tragic hero at its finest.
I appreciated how TLOU2 starred a variety of characters that fall under the LGBT umbrella. Not only does it normalize LGBT people (which is good), it was also a refreshing change of pace that truly makes this game stand out. I also appreciated how TLOU2 had this sort of diversity without patronizingly pandering to these groups. TLOU2 treats every LGBT member of its cast as real people whose status doesn't make them exempt them from hardship. Dina and Ellie's disagreement is a component of this, for it is treated no differently than any straight couple's. They're not two lesbians who have a bitter end; they're two romantic partners who have a disagreement, which, believe it or not, happens to people in relationships. If Ellie were Elliot, the dynamic between him and Dina wouldn't have to be altered. That, friends, is how you write LGBT people: you don't treat them any differently than non-LGBT people!
I should briefly lay another one of my cards on the table: I approached Abby with an open mind, but also trepidation. Unexpectedly, she ended up becoming my favorite character from the franchise. What is discussed in my response to this particular criticism is part of the reason why.
Ellie and Abby are different people with different backgrounds. Unlike Ellie, Abby is a literal soldier who distinguished herself in the WLF as one of their top Seraphite killers. The result is a jaded girl who copes with trauma on an internal level; she bottles up her sorrows, seldom making them outwardly apparent. When her stoicism does slip, her insecurities usually escape in the form of snappishness2. No, this isn’t me desperately clawing to delegitimize this criticism. It is simply a fact that (and I hate to sound pretentious here) Abby is indeed a well-written but also complicated character that is difficult to read on a surface-level. Diagnosing her thoughts2,3,4, motivations5, reactions, and desires6 often requires a more attentive analysis, as they are rarely expressed in a straightforward manner (except in extraordinary circumstances). Here are some independent points that should paint a picture of what I mean:
1.
2Abby: "Hey. Why have you been avoiding me?"
Mel: "I wasn't avoiding you."
Abby: "C'mon. You've barely said anything to me since Jackson."
Mel: "I don't know... I guess I was... Shook by Jackson too."
Abby: "You don't think Joel deserved what he got?"
Mel: "I think he deserved worse, I just... I just wish I didn't take part in it."
Abby: "I get it. What kind of person could do that, right?"
Mel: "I'm not saying that."
Abby: "Let's see if there's a way to the hatch."
Mel: "All right..."
This exchange from Seattle Day 1 more than suggests Abby has begun to internally acknowledge that the way she killed Joel was inhumanely brutal, and she’s already having second thoughts.
2. 3Since the player is not always directly told Abby’s thoughts, they are often relayed through dream sequences. Each of Abby’s dreams return her to the exact same hall in St. Mary's Hospital and end with her opening the door to the operating room where her father was murdered. The repetitiveness of these dreams communicates that Abby has never gotten over Jerry’s death, and it is constantly on her mind. This is further exemplified by her continued interest in collecting state quarters: one of the only connections she still has to her father. You'll notice, however, that Abby never speaks of this issue–not even to her friends. Compare this to Ellie, who is very open about her grief over the death of Joel.
3. 4At the end of Seattle Day 1, Abby finds Owen in the cabin cruiser at the aquarium. This is when Owen reveals his plan to travel to Santa Barbara to find the remaining Fireflies, a decision for which Abby chides Owen. We then get this exchange:
Abby: Sorry I grew up. You should try it.
Owen: Oh yeah? How do I do that, Abby? Should I go find the people who killed *my* family? Cut into 'em? I could torture them until they're crying in their own-"
Abby interrupts Owen violently, shoving him into the cabin’s walls. She does this because she knows what she did to Joel was cruel and perhaps unjustified, and she cannot bear to listen to Owen remind her of her monstrous actions. Their clash then shifts into a rough lovemaking session. This sex scene was not implemented arbitrarily; this is Abby trying to make the guilt go away. She’s desperate for any kind of temporary pleasure (like a night of coital bliss with the man she loves) that could distract her from her regrets. Unfortunately, this rash action ultimately exacerbates her guilt.
4. 5Abby’s motivations for returning to Yara and Lev are externally dubious. Some players may think Abby helped them out of pity or a sense of obligation since they saved her from being lynched. Mel suspects that Abby wanted to use the kids as a means to manipulatively gain the favor of Owen (who’d begun to grow sympathetic toward the Seraphites). In reality, it’s none of those things. Abby was motivated by a desire to cleanse herself of guilt. Guilt for animalistically torturing Joel to a degree that even made her friends uncomfortable2. Guilt for betraying Mel by sleeping with Owen. Guilt for not being there to save her father. The most beautiful part of Abby’s arc, I believe, is how these selfish motivations evolve into a fiercely protective fraternal love for Yara and Lev.
5. 6In the scene where Abby prepares to slice Dina’s throat, her enthusiastic “good” upon discovering that Dina was pregnant was born not out of sadism, but a grief-fueled desire for Hammurabian justice. This is a component of how she copes with losing her friend Mel, who was also pregnant. “Good”, in this instance, translates to: “oh, you killed my pregnant friend? Then I’ll kill your pregnant friend”. Lev, thankfully, pulls Abby out of her vengeful tunnel vision before she could follow through with the deed.
6. All of this is not to say Abby is 100% a hardened killer who never reacts to trauma in the moment; during gameplay, after you kill your first two Wolves as Abby, she is programmed to always exclaim: “oh shit… shit!” in a severely distressed tone. She is mortified that she is killing her own comrades to protect Lev.
Does this complex style of characterization make Abby difficult for many to empathize with? Probably. I can understand why many people are unreceptive to her semi-abrasive disposition, especially if they’ve already decided to hate her from the get-go. Is it impossible to empathize with her? Absolutely not, especially if you are willing to analyze her with an open mind. Does her polarizing depiction make her poorly written? Hell no. A well-written character is not always universally likable, and Abby is an exemplar of this. For her nuanced portrayal, subtle execution, endearing dynamic with Yara and Lev, and continued mercifulness toward Ellie, I think Abby is a remarkable (and woefully misunderstood) character.
While Ellie does hate Abby for killing Joel, she also hates Abby because she represents something Ellie has spent years wrestling with: what Joel did in Salt Lake City, an act for which Ellie has never forgiven Joel. It was never revealed to Ellie that Abby's quest to kill Joel was to avenge her father, so she has always operated under the notion that Abby and co. traveled to Jackson to avenge humanity, which had been robbed of its only chance at a cure. Thus, in Ellie's perspective, Abby is an agent of karma–the inevitable consequence of Joel's actions. Abby's very existence, to Ellie, is a reminder of how Joel took away her chance of making her life meaningful.
While drowning Abby, a glimpse of Joel strumming his guitar on his porch flashes through her mind. It isn't too long later in the game when it is revealed that this is a memory of the night Ellie makes her first conscious effort toward forgiving Joel for his selfishness. When Ellie releases Abby, this isn't her forgiving Abby; this is her forgiving Joel.
This particular criticism is so silly I almost consider it to tread in the “dishonest” territory. While TLOU2 is undoubtedly more violent than a bulk of its M-rated peers, it has most certainly not earned the crown of that category. Here is a fatality from “Mortal Kombat (2011)”, where Kung Lao drags his opponent crotch-first through a buzz saw until they’re sliced perfectly in half. Here is the first combat scene in “Bioshock: Infinite” where Booker DeWitt slams the face of a policeman into an operating Sky-Hook. Here is a scene from the beginning of “Resident Evil 2: Remake” where Elliot Edward’s hip is torn off his torso, entrails hanging out in all their glory. Here is a scene from “Spec Ops: The Line” where the player is revealed to have deployed white phosphorus on military relief efforts and civilians. For Satan’s sake, here is Joel getting his jaw torn off his face by a Bloater. This objection against TLOU2 is nothing more than a red herring that has been brought up and blown out of proportion for dishonest purposes. Since when were Gamers™ concerned about violence in video games? That’s the job of Karens and Republican politicians. If we take a step back from the outrage, we’ll see that the degree of violence portrayed in TLOU2 is not abnormal–if anything, it’s tamer than some of its contemporaries.
But even if TLOU2 were the most violent video game ever made, that has no bearing on whether or not the story is well-written. If anything, its exorbitant violence is justified since it actually serves a narrative and thematic purpose in this game, unlike the scenes I mentioned above (except “Spec-Ops: The Line”). In a story that focuses on the emotional consequences of horrendous acts the main characters perpetrate, violence is an excellent tool that adds stakes, highlights the ruthlessness of its world, and most importantly, shows the audience how traumatizing brutalization can be, which helps you empathize with distraught characters. If your stomach is too weak to handle this kind of violence, that’s fine, but it isn’t an objective mark against the game.
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that TLOU2 respects Joel by making him the most important figure in the entire game. Joel is at the center of everything. His morally gray legacy lives on in an adult Ellie, the privilege she gets to experience in her peaceful life with Dina, her pursuit of revenge, Abby's pursuit of revenge, and the continued misery the rest of the world faces with the Cordyceps fungus. Killing off a character is not always the end of that character’s role, and that’s especially the case with Joel. His presence, be it implicit or explicit, can be felt everywhere in the game. I believe this was an excellent way to handle a character as morally dubious as Joel. It wouldn’t be right if the story allowed him to live the rest of his life peacefully in Jackson–not after condemning humanity. Millions will continue to die and suffer because of what he did. However, it would also be cruel of the story to simply kill and leave him by the wayside. Selfish or not, he was still a grieving father who obeyed the urge to save the one he loved, something anyone can empathize with. Joel deserved death for his betrayal of humankind, but he did not deserve to be demonized. TLOU2, as demonstrated by the flashback sequences, treated Joel as anything but a villain.

Part 3: Criticisms From Yours Truly

It's time for me to lay down my shield and pick up my sword. Here we go!
A neat addition to the game was how human enemies call out to their fallen comrades by name. This humanizes the enemies and tremendously adds to the game’s exploration of the consequences of violence. However, this remarkable detail falls flat on its face thanks to one hiccup: names are repeated a lot. By the time Ellie killed her third Ashley, I was having a difficult time taking this detail seriously.
But that’s just a nit-pick. Time for me to break out the big guns. My biggest grievance with this game can be summed up in two words: Santa Barbara. Santa McFreaking Barbara. Like a malicious Cordyceps that hijacks the mind and distorts its host into something unrecognizable, the Santa Barbara segment takes TLOU2 and warps it until you have to keep reminding yourself you're playing the same game you were playing an hour ago. The characters it built. The message it built. The themes it built. It is all thrown out the window. Here's why:
1. The Rattlers and their portrayal betray the game's theme of ambiguous morality. The Rattlers are unapologetically sinister, what with how they enslave their captives with a degree of brutality that makes death preferable. They keep and taunt their captives even after they become mindless zombies, which is unjustifiably sadistic. They tie up and leave their misbehaving slaves to die in a macabre yard of decaying bodies that wouldn’t be out of place in the middle ages. Unlike the Seraphites or the WLF, both of which are shown to have sympathetic qualities, the Rattlers are blackened to the bone and indefensible. This results in the most explicit case of thematic inconsistency I've ever seen in any professionally-written story.
2. Finally, the worst offender: the time skip. While I felt a tense emotional investment in the Ellie vs. Abby fight in the theater, I felt the opposite during the Ellie vs. Abby fight on the coast of Santa Barbara, which was supposed to be the emotional peak of the story. Here's the difference between these two events:
-In the theater, I had a deep investment in both of the involved characters. I'd spent 25+ hours watching both girls brave the dangers of Seattle. I saw Ellie banter with Dina, cope with the trauma of losing Joel, discover a new type of infected, chase and beat the snot out of Nora, discover the Seraphites, kill Owen and Mel, and surrender to Abby to protect Tommy. I saw Abby's interpersonal drama with her WLF comrades, meet and bond with Yara and Lev, cross the bridges, descend deeper and deeper into the infected hotel, face the terrifying Rat King, refuse to move from Isaac's line of fire, and grieve after discovering her murdered loved ones. These were the characters I was with every step of the way as they seamlessly evolved during the trio of days in Seattle, and I wanted neither of them to get hurt by the end of it.
-On the shores of Santa Barbara, I didn't know who either character was. I guess Ellie helped Dina start a farmhouse and deliver a baby, dealt with chronic PTSD attacks, and shared a peaceful life with Dina and JJ on the farm, but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into? I guess Abby had been enslaved, beaten, starved, and on the cusp of escape (only to be denied it), but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into?
Whoever these new characters are, they're not the ones we spent the entire game getting to know. Those characters are long dead and gone, lost in the 1-2 years between Seattle Day 3 and the moment we first find Ellie in the farmhouse. As much as I hate to say it, the Santa Barbara segment, in only a mere hour, renders all the hours that came before it obsolete. Worthless. A waste of time.
This isn't me getting upset at the ending. I have no qualms with it at all. How we got there is where the issue lies. Is there a solution to this massive problem? Yes, and it's quite simple: time. It would've been worlds better if this game ended with Abby and Lev leaving the theater (preferably on this screen), which makes for a juicy cliff hanger that leads into Part III (which is probably inevitable with sales like these). If Part III was almost or entirely dedicated to fleshing out the Santa Barbara segment, I firmly believe these problems would cease to exist.
Time would allow us to marinate in the aftermath of Seattle. Maybe we get to see Ellie and Dina search for a farmhouse to claim. Get some sheep. Plant their crops. Dust up the house and make it a home. See Ellie's simultaneous terror and joy when JJ finally comes into their lives. See the ups and downs of Ellie and Dina's shared parenthood. In the meantime, packs of infected and wandering bandits are sure to spring up, providing the player with some stimulating combat as Ellie and Dina defend their new home and family. But in the meantime... Ellie wrestles with night terrors. She continues to see and hear Joel in his final hour. She sees Abby lurking in the theater, but she can't reach her weapon fast enough! The PTSD Ellie carries provides an undercurrent of negativity to her and Dina's otherwise peaceful life, and the pressure only builds over time. It makes her colder. Snappier. Maybe she even occasionally lashes out at Dina, only to quickly apologize afterward. But one day, Tommy pays his first visit in months, and he's brought a map and some information...
Time would allow us to see Abby and Lev's journey to Santa Barbara and their search for the Fireflies. Their big sister-little brother bond grows stronger in their adventures. They probably have lots of run-ins with the infected. A trader probably tips them off to the Rattlers in the area. When they're ambushed and kidnapped, Abby does everything in her power to resist their captors to make sure Lev isn't mistreated, as his transgender status likely puts him at considerable risk for abuse. Resistance is her initial instinct, but she quickly realizes that she can exchange her compliance for Lev's safety. So she works gruesome jobs for gruesome hours. Maybe after realizing how much leverage they have over this talented soldier, the Rattlers give her a weapon and force her to help hunt for escapees and unfortunate travelers (of course, if she turns her weapon against her captors, they'll make sure Lev faces a fate worse than death). After months, Abby finally builds up the confidence to stage an escape with Lev... but their operation fails. She is punished severely for her misconduct. She's starved. Tortured. Beaten. We see her spirit break, and her body emaciates until she is just as weak and helpless as the man she killed in Wyoming. She thinks of him and wonders if this was how he felt. Once the Rattlers are through with making an example out of her and Lev, they're strung up and left to die among dozens of corpses... until a familiar voice comes calling through the fog...
Unfortunately, as it exists now, the rushed nature of the Santa Barbara segment alienated the player from all of the characters involved-even Ellie, who the player is in control of throughout the entirety of the segment. Now, alienating an audience from characters via a time jump can certainly be used to great effect in some stories, but one such story is not this one. For 30ish hours, TLOU2 established itself as the kind of story that earned your investment through subtle character growth. What is the natural predator of incremental character growth? Time skips that gloss over major character-altering events. This was a disastrous decision on the writer's part, and it critically injures what I'd otherwise call a nigh flawless game.

Conclusion

Yes, my criticism of the Santa Barbara section was harsh, but it heartens me to remember it was only ~1.5 hours long. I wouldn't dare condemn the entire ~30-hour game for a fraction of a fraction of its content, especially not when the rest of it was as masterful as it was. A poorly paced ending does not make a story bad, and shame on anyone who thinks it does. It's about the journey, after all, not the destination, and by Satan was this an emotionally thrilling journey indeed. Excluding its ending, I’m glad to give it the highest praises I can offer. Unfortunately, due to a perfect storm of circumstances, this sequel may have cemented itself as the most controversial game ever made. I think that’s a crying shame because this is a great game that often goes where no game has gone before. It is one of the few games that not only challenged its players mechanically, but *mentally,* for it encouraged them to question their biases and see the reasons behind every seemingly evil action. It made giant steps forward for social progress, playing a part in making the world a better place for everyone. I sometimes fear the vitriolic reaction to this game may intimidate future screenwriters from making such bold decisions for their stories, and I believe that would ultimately hold the medium back from its fullest potential, particularly in the storytelling department. I have hope and a little bit of faith that this work of art will eventually stand the test of time, especially once the outrage simmers. Cheers to the developers for making such a wild ride, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
submitted by Merfond to thelastofus [link] [comments]

Incomprehensive guide to asx BNPL companies (Z1P, SPT, OPY, SZL)

Disclaimer: Bought Zip at $2.52, then more at $2.17 for base cost of $2.32, hoped for an entry to the US market via QuadPay as they had a 15% stake. Bought more at $5.50 after announcement. Base cost now $2.93. Will likely buy into Sezzle soon, as well. All information here could be wrong, DYOR. Mkt caps are from Friday's close price.
Splitit and Sezzle USD converted to AUD at a rate of <1 USD = 1.45716 AUD>
TLDR at the end.

Zip Co. ($Z1P)

Mkt Cap: 2.55b
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 1.95m 1.8m ↑11%
Merchants 22.7k 20.8k ↑ 9%
TTV 518m 562m ↓ 8%
Revenue 45m 38.5m ↑17%
 

QuadPay

Acquired for 403m by Zip Co.
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 1.5m ?? ??
Merchants 3.5k ?? ??
TTV 225m 245m ↓8%
Revenue 17.8m 18m ↓1%
 

OpenPay ($OPY)

Mkt Cap: 257m
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 250k 206k ↑19%
Merchants 2k 1.8k ↑10%
TTV 45m 49.5m ↓9.5%
Revenue 5.3m 4.6m ↑14%
 

Splitit ($SPT)

Mkt Cap: 250m
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 107k 118k ↓9.7%
Merchants 862 720 ↑18%
TTV 34.5m 39.5m ↓13%
Revenue 957k 630k ↑41%

Sezzle ($SZL)

Mkt Cap: 606m
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 1.15m 914k ↑22%
Merchants 12.7k 10k ↑23%
TTV 173.5m 153m ↑12.5%
Revenue ?? ?? ??
 

OpenPay ($OPY)

OPY was overpriced at $3.50 (Mkt Cap: 380m) in comparison to its listed competitors for where they are currently. They're only usable where OpenPay is accepted, for which there aren't many places outside of automotive and healthcare. The "big names" OpenPay tout, like Smiggle and Bonds, are what I call BNPL whores. They accept anyone: Afterpay, Zip, OpenPay, Humm, your mum's necklace. At retailers that offer multiple BNPLs, customers will just choose who they're familiar with, and they're unlikely to be familiar with OpenPay.
You should also note that as of their April 30th Update they said that they have a "strong balance sheet and growth funding positions means no immediate need for any equity raising". Of course, one month later after the explosion of their Share Price they committed to an equity raise. This is either a sudden change of course, or an opportune decision to take advantage of a bloated Share Price. New shares priced at $2.40. Either way I don't like it.
Not confident for their long-term survival. But they are showing good growth, and if you're one to bet it all on the small dogs for the mid-term, OpenPay beats out Splitit handily. Personally, I need to have faith in the execs to invest, which I don't, and for that reason: I'm out.

Spitit ($SPT)

If Afterpay, Klarna and Affirm are the Year 12 cool kids, and Zip and Sezzle are the younger, more hip cool kids in year 10, then Splitit is the special needs kid who hasn't realised he's soiled himself until he's told. Splitit operates in the US, uses the Stripe platform with QuadPay, and is partnered with Visa as is Afterpay. I don't think the 'partnerships' are as exciting as they sound. Just provides access to their tools.
Like Sezzle, Splitit can be integrated into retailers Shopify sites if they choose to. Not too sure how long this will last, as Shopify has recently stated they will be coming out with their own BNPL solution called Shop Pay Instalments. Besides, while they're both currently small and relatively unknown overall, Sezzle is more well-known in the states over Splitit. If Shopify merchants choose these integrations they will more than likely go with whichever they're familiar with: Sezzle.
Splitit's "Active Shoppers" has fallen slightly for the 3rd straight quarter, dating back to Q32019, and is only up 2% since this same time last year (Q12019). Pretty poor for a rapidly growing space.
Now for why they're special needs. One of the most 'popular' retailers on the Splitit site is Purple, which was announced as an addition last month. However, Purple doesn't even offer Splitit, Affirm straight yoinked Purple from underneath them and they are now their BNPL solution. Splitit is either too slow to realise, or just don't update their site enough. Their quarterly update listed Scorptec as a new addition, but what's the first thing you see on Scorptec's website? Zip Money. I randomly selected other merchants on their store directory, and it is very difficult to tell if they even offer Splitit in a lot of cases. You've gotta do some digging. Their exposure and branding is trash. It's great that you can offer your services "anywhere Visa is accepted", but you have to have people using your app for that. No one is using your app if they don't know who the fuck you are.

Sezzle ($SZL)

In complete contrast to Splitit, for the most part it's easy to tell when a site offers Sezzle. The logo is subjectively appealing, and can often be seen on the retailers homepage. Also unlike Splitit, the stores in their directory actually offer Sezzle, which probably points to them being aware and updating their page; Splitit could learn something.
Currently, the downside to Sezzle is they only offer their services with retailers who are signed up with them. Although, focusing on retailer expansion should help with brand exposure. BNPL solutions get a good chuck of money from Merchant Fees, fees they don't see when users use their "anywhere" solutions through their respective apps. But, when customers use their 'anywhere' solutions through the app at retailers, the BNPL provider will then approach the retailer to get them to sign up, further expanding their exclusive offerings. Sezzle will be looking to take advantage of this with Sezzle Up. A virtual card will be created, much like Zip and QuadPay do, but with Sezzle rewards and credit integrated. Sezzle looks to be trying to innovate in the space, which is a good look for them.
In comparison, Sezzle's active customer base is up 22% for the quarter, compared to Splitit's %2 for the year. (Period ending March).

Zip Co. & QuadPay ($Z1P not $ZIP)

With this acquisition, ZIP will be looking at a combined annualised TTV of $3b, Revenue of $250m, 26k merchants and 3.5m customers. However, 1Q2020 showed a TTV of 225m for QuadPay, 4Q2019 showed a TTV of 245m and 3Q2019 showed a TTV of 71m. QuadPay was previously the BNPL solution for Amazon US from my previous research late April, which no longer seems to be the case post acquisition news. In my opinion, QuadPay was likely added to Amazon US sometime late Q3 or early Q4, which resulted in the huge TTV jump. If this is true, you should expect a dramatic decrease in performance in QuadPay's 2Q2020 results, which you might not hear about as QuadPay is private and the acquisition doesn't complete until 1Q2021. This should siginificantly impact the pro-forma numbers of Zip+Quad.
The way I see it, Klarna is the big pimp daddy in Europe. Afterpay is the big pimp daddy in Australia. They're both, with Affirm, still fighting for market share in the US with a grand pimp yet to be decided. If they're top 3 in US currently, Zip will be entering the race in 4th place post acquisition.
Both Zip and QuadPay offer their services at any retailer through the use of a virtual card, this is where QuadPay uses the services of Stripe. They also have some big name retailers helping with exposure to drive users to their app. Zip has Amazon AU, and was trailed by Apple in Australia for use on their online store. CFO Martin Brooke thinks the trial was 'successful' and they're currently "taking the next steps". Although Apple does already do similar financing through their Apple Card. QuadPay was exclusively available on Amazon US before the acquisition announcement. Amazon US was likely providing massive amounts of exposure for QuadPay. I emailed Zip's investor email to find out if I'm mistaken that they were Amazon's BNPL provider during my research late April.
For future outlook, Zip has a 25% stake in PayFlex, which is a South African company. Other acquisitions already completed include PartPay, PocketBoook, Spotcap. Their brands are Zip Pay, Zip Money and Zip Biz. Quadpay and Sezzle are at similar stages of growth in the US, and Zip will be looking to leverage the $200m investment from Susquehanna International (100m Convertible Notes & 100m Warrants) to quickly scale their operations in the US to steam ahead of Sezzle.

Overall:

The downtick in TTV across the board, barring Sezzle, is expected with the March quarter coming off from a busy holiday period in the December quarter.
Everyone's trying to snag the US market right now. Afterpay is one of the last holdouts for the "use anywhere" solution everyone else is peddling through their apps. Klarna, Affirm, Splitit, Zip, QuadPay are going this route, and Sezzle will soon follow. Just have to wait and see if Afterpay follows. Winners will be whoever can snag the big name/popular retailers in with exclusivity deals, to drive exposure and push users to their apps, snowballing retailer on-boarding. Revenue and TTV are more important than Merchant Numbers. It's better to have a few quality, big name merchants with hundreds of thousands to millions of customers, over thousands of no-name merchants with hundreds to thousands of customers on each. Right now Afterpay has Ebay, Zip has Amazon AU (not that big in this country, was expecting them to have Amazon US post acquisition), Affirm has Walmart, Klarna's snagging popular clothing retailers.
I think Afterpay is going to need to join the "Use Anywhere" party, although with the amount of retailers they're on-boarding it's not necessary right now. They encourage their users to message retailers that don't offer Afterpay to encourage them to come onboard. The "Use Anywhere" solution is great, but it brings in less money, and in Splitit's case with no one knowing who you are and therefore not using your app, altogether useless.
Sezzle will do all right grabbing the 'hip' retailers, and will show good growth in the short to mid-term. Zip will be strong in the short to mid-term post acquisition, and have a strong footing in the US out the gate for a potential long-term future. I'm already onboard Zip, but I'll be jumping Sezzle as well. I would be onboard Afterpay, but imo it's too late and you'll see more %capitalgrowth with the first two from here.
TLDR; OpenPay was overpriced at $3.50 but is better than Splitit and should be priced higher than them. Snap decision change within a month or dodgy capital snagging? Who knows. Splitit suffering from very poor brand exposure + poor user growth. Sezzle fresh, innovating in the BNPL space with Sezzle Up but might get outpaced by QuadPay post-acquisition. Will buy them to benefit from short to mid-term growth. Zip on potentially shaky ground, will need to get some big names early for their US push. They're a high risk speculative buy with a lot of potential upside.
After a rocky March, BNPL's across the board are seeing large upticks across April, May and June. Possibly a combination of the stimulus announcements/rollouts and isolation. Might update this once the next quarter results are out.
Other BNPLs are available: Humm, Bundll, LayBuy, Latitude Pay, DivideBuy, PayItLater, PayRight, LimePay, Make it Mine, Shop Pay Instalments, FuturePay, LaterPay, Four, SunBit, (insert your own).
submitted by HussySmurf to ausstocks [link] [comments]

We Are Coming For You – Part 2

Start|Previous Part| Next Part
Here's part 2 I hope you enjoy it.
Just a quick warning there is some light nsfw content towards the end of this part.
Sitting around a table in the private room that had been given to them Tucker groaned as he held his head in his hands.
“One of these days you’re gonna learn moderation.” Thatcher said as he and Vic played cards together.
“I got challenged to a drinking match.” Tucker groaned “The dignity of the whole human race was at stake.”
As Thatcher smirked at him Vic said “You know half the stuff you drank has probably never been consumed by a human before?”
“You hear that Thatch? I’m a pioneer.” he lifted his head up to grin at his boss only to immediately regret it.
“Here.” Thatcher said taking pity on him and pouring him a drink. “Have some hair of the dog.”
Mumbling his thanks Tucker downed the drink in one gulp making Thatcher shake his head. “So where’s Asami at?”
“No idea.” Thatcher replied as he examined the cards he was dealt. “Hopefully doing her job.”
“Speaking of which, what’s the plan here boss? We sticking with these guys or what?” Vic asked.
Giving him a nod Thatcher said “This group is as good a place to start as any. We’ll see how they operate, their relation to other gangs in the system, the kind of fire power they usually run with. If they’re useful we’ll hang around otherwise we’ll jump ship if and when a more serviceable option presents itself.”
“Sounds good to me.” Tucker said as he reached for the bottle only for Thatcher to pull it out of reach.
As the door to their room opened the three of them looked up to see Asami enter and make her way over to their table. “Morning Fellas.” she said loudly into Tucker’s ear as she passed making him wince and groan.
Frowning at her as she put her feet up on the table with a smirk Tucker asked “So where have you been?”
“Oh, you know. Just improving relations with humanities galactic neighbours.” She grinned as she grabbed Thatchers bottle and took a swig.
Blinking at her Tucker said “What, with Captain Furball?” getting a nod from her he turned to look at Thatcher and gestured to Asami with his thumb “How come she gets to fuck the aliens but I don’t?”
“Because the ones she screws don’t try to eat her.” Vic said dryly.
“Well, I wouldn’t go so far to say there was no eating involved.” she snickered.
“Don’t cats have barbs on their-” Tucker started only for Thatcher to interrupt.
“Enough.” he silenced Tucker before looking to Asami. “At least tell me you got something out of it.” He said only to hold up his had to forestall the predictable response “Something pertaining to the mission?”
Pulling a datastick from her pocket Asami tossed it to Thatcher who caught it out the air. “Pulled this directly from Artum’s computer. Seems like our new friends are pretty low on the totem pole but the captain’s the ambitious sort. He’s got oppo research on most of the other gangs in this part of the system and if I didn’t know any better I’d say he’s thinking about making a power play and working his way up the ranks. With a little bit of help he might even get a seat at the big boys table.”
“This Tucker,” Thatcher said as he skimmed through the data Asami had pilfered “is why she gets to fuck the aliens.”
“I found out some important stuff too.” he huffed “For example I bet you didn’t know that Kreeduds can’t hold their liquor for shit.”
“I’m sure that’ll be very useful to know.” Thatcher said absently as he turned off the datapad and tucked the datastick away for safe keeping. “Let’s get something to eat and see if we can find out if Asami’s boyfriend has decided if he wants be a social climber or if he’s content where he is.”
Getting to their feet the four of them left their room and headed to a cantina. They had found out the day before that Artum’s gang controlled the entire station and the area they were in was reserved solely for the use of his crew which numbered in the hundreds. As soon as they entered the mess hall Artum spotted them and called out “There you are my friends! Come, come join me!” he said as he shooed away the men who had been sitting at his table to make space for the humans. “You can come sit on my lap my dear.” he purred at Asami who simply gave him an amused smirk and sat in the seat next to him. “I trust you’ve found my hospitality acceptable?”
“You’ve been more than generous.” Thatcher replied.
“Think nothing off it. I like to think I have an eye for talent and when I see it I’ll go to no ends to see they become mine.” he said as he took a long pull from his bottle before offering it to Asami. “I’ve been asking around about your species. No one this far out seems to know much about you, just rumours and third hand accounts from the war. Most Union races seem to agree that you Humans are little more than savages; you should hear how the Draastrekians talk about you, you’ve become the bogeyman for an entire galactic power. Oh, they’ll grandstand and declare they’ll tear you Humans limb from limb and feast on your entrails given the chance but they’re all pissing themselves at the thought of another war with your kind.”
“And how do you see us?” Thatcher wondered.
“Draastrekians may not be the smartest creatures in the galaxy but their military might is undeniable. And any race formidable enough to give them pause shouldn’t be so easily discounted as savages.” he said, his golden eyes examining the four of them closely “Did you truly burn their brood-worlds to ash?”
“Not personally.” Tucker said as he reached for the bottle only for Asami to slap his hand away.
“We humans tend to take a very pragmatic approach to warfare.” Thatcher said “You come at us once we’re damn well gonna make sure you never come at us again.”
“And we can be pretty inventive when we have to be.” Asami added as she leaned back in her chair and brought her hands behind her head, drawing Artum’s gaze towards her chest.
Grinning hungrily at her Artum said “I think the four of you will be a great asset to my crew. And I seem to be in the market for some new lieutenants.”
“Your men going to be cool taking orders from us?” Vic asked “As Thatch said we’re not looking to step on any toes and I can’t see them being too pleased with us being here all of five minutes and already outranking them.”
“You’re underestimating how useful your species reputation can be in this part of the galaxy and in this line of work.” Artum said as he reached out to squeeze Asami’s thigh “Especially after they all saw how Asami handled Dren.”
“Just so we know what you want us to do, are you looking to expand your territory or are you just interested in maintaining what you have?” Thatcher asked.
“First why don’t you tell me what you think of my operation.” Artum replied.
“Haven’t really seen much enough to give an opinion.” Thatcher shrugged.
“From what I’ve seen it seems pretty second rate if you ask me.” Asami said idly.
“Oh?” Artum narrowed his eyes at her “We control this entire starport; anyone entering or leaving the system has to pass through us not to mention this is where all the minerals that are mined in this part of the asteroid belt are processed.”
“And that all sounds very impressive.” Asami replied “Until you realise that means when the Union finally decide to get off their asses and retake the system through force you’re the one whose gonna take the brunt of their fleet at full strength. As for the asteroid mining I can’t imagine that’s anywhere near as profitable as mining planetside. I mean, if you own the whole planet it’s not like the miners have any choice who they sell it to, up here if they don’t like your price they can simply fly to the next port and try their luck there.” she explained “So all in all you’re just a backwoods crew happy to pick up scraps while acting as cannon fodder for the rest of the gangs that are set up towards the centre of the system.” she said as she brought the bottle up to her lips only for Artum to slap it out of her hands.
Letting out a snarl Artum roughly grasped her wrist and yanked her towards him “Just because I took you to bed does not mean I shall tolerate such disrespect straight to my face!”
Unfazed by his sudden rage Asami smiled as she leaned in closer to him “I’m sorry baby.” she purred huskily as she moved her unrestrained hand to his thigh and began slowly sliding her hand up and down. “I was just teasing. Forgive me?” she asked seductively as she moved her hand higher.
Feeling himself stiffen at her touch Artum’s anger started to subside and began to loosen his grip on her arm only to gasp when he felt something sharp poke him. Looking down his eyes went wide as he saw Asami was holding a knife to his groin.
As he whipped his head back up to look at her he found her smiling pleasantly at him. “You ever grab me like that again and I’ll geld you, understand?” giving her a nod Artum released her wrist. “Good boy.” she smiled as she affectionately patted his crotch before stabbing the knife into his chair making him jump in his seat. “I’m gonna go grab some food.” she announced as she stood up.
“Get me some while you’re at it.” Tucker called after her only for Asami to flip him off over her shoulder without even turning to look at him.
Staring after her retreating form in abject fascination Artum grabbed the knife and yanked it out from his seat and tossed it on the table as he looked at the three humans opposite him who seemed unperturbed by what had just transpired. As a grin tugged on the corners of his mouth Artum let out a throaty laugh and said “I love human women! Are all your females like her?”
“Asami’s one of a kind.” Thatcher replied with a small smile.
“Do you have any idea how long it’s been since anyone has even dared to threaten my life? And in less than a day she’s held a gun to my head and a knife to my groin!” he roared with laughter “You humans truly are a fascinating species. I’m sure you’ll be very useful to me.” he grinned.
“You still haven’t told us your goals.” Vic pointed out.
Letting out a grunt Artum replied “What do you know of the power balance in this system.”
“Just that the Praxian government lost control of it and is now being run by pirate gangs.” Tucker said.
“That’s right.” Artum nodded his head “A few years ago someone began uniting and organising the larger gangs in they system. They co-ordinated attacks and raids on such a scale that by the time the Conglomeration realised we were all working together it was too late; we had already taken over every starport and blockaded every planet until they surrendered control to us. And once we got our claws into the system they were powerless to oust us.” he grinned.
“Who’s this ‘someone’ who got everyone working together?” Thatcher asked.
“No idea.” Artum shrugged his shoulders. “Never met him in person. The heads of the biggest gangs, the ones now running entire planets and calling themselves Pirate Lords are the only ones to have ever been in contact with him and from what I’ve heard they don’t even know his species.”
“Sounds like a fairytale to me.” Tucker said “Some shadowy puppeteer pulling the stings from behind the scenes that no ones ever seen.”
“Believe what you will but trust me when I say there’s no way those gangs would have started working together of their own volition. Without him to control them they wouldn’t have been able to stop stabbing each other in the back long enough to present a united front against the Conglomeration.”
“And where do you fit into this?” Thatcher asked.
“As much as I hate to admit it Asami was right.” he begrudgingly said as the woman in question returned to the table carrying a tray of food.
“I usually am.” she said as she slid onto Artum’s lap as if she hadn’t just threatened to castrate him.
Raising an eyebrow at the woman Artum looked towards the other humans who seemed not to take any notice of her perplexing behaviour. Chalking it up as another human idiosyncrasy Artum shook his head and began stroking her thigh as he continued “Compared to the self-entitled Pirate Lords who took over the colonies we are a lot smaller and joined up later. Which is why we are relegated to this ‘backwoods’ corner of the system as Asami so eloquently put it.”
“And I take it you want to change that?” Thatcher asked.
“That thought had occurred to me.” he admitted as he reached out towards Asami’s plate only for her stab her knife into the piece of meat he had tried to pick up. Staring into his eyes Asami brought the meat up to her mouth and tore a chunk off with her teeth before proffering it to Artum. Returning her stare with glowing eyes Artum took a bite of his own “You are a thrilling creature.” he declared with a lustful growl as he squeezed her thigh and moved his hand higher.
“mmm, down boy.” she said breathily as she slapped his hand “We’re talking business, there’ll be time for fun later.” she smiled as pulled the rest of the meat off of the knife with her teeth.
Seeing their new boss enthralled by the woman on his lap Thatcher cleared his throat and said “So you’re looking to expand and take one of these mining colonies for yourself? I think we can help with that.”
“Oh?” Artum asked with a raised eyebrow. “And how would you go about doing that?”
“Well for starters your outfit is too small. We make a play for the colonies as we are now any one of the bigger gangs will crush us before we set foot planetside. So we need to swell the ranks before we move against them.” Thatcher said “Tell me, what’s your relationship like with the other crews in this part of the system?”
“We’re pirates.” Artum said amused. “We tolerate each other so long as we don’t infringe on another’s turf.”
Nodding his head Thatcher said “There are two ways we can go about this. The first is we absorb the smaller gangs. We offer them a bigger piece of the pie if they’re willing to work for us. Those that reject us we kill the guys in charge. Either the guy who replaces him is a lot more amicable to working with us or the group will be splintered in the power vacuum and we’ll just pick up the scraps. We’ll only have to do this two or three times before word gets around and they start lining up to join us. Of course this comes with its own risks. The smaller gangs could band together to fight against us much like you all did against the Praxia Conglomeration or one of your larger rivals could take note of our expansion and try to poach them from us or even stage a pre-emptive strike against us and start a war to curtail our growth before we become to big for them to deal with.”
“And the second?” Artum asked as he accepted another mouthful from Asami.
“The second is we go after your biggest rivals first.” Thatcher replied “Taking them out would be difficult but if done right would be the quickest way to expand. Of course if we end up in an open war with them it’d leave us vulnerable to any of the smaller factions who have a shred of ambition as they’d see their biggest rivals weakened regardless of if we win or lose. But should we come out of it unscathed the smaller gangs would have no choice but to fall in line.”
“And which way would you recommend?” Artum asked as he thoughtfully drummed his fingers against Asami’s thigh.
Looking among themselves for a moment Tucker said “Go big or go home I say.”
“Who are the biggest competition?” Thatcher asked.
Thinking for a moment Artum’s lips curled into a grin “That would be Kranii. His is the second largest crew after mine which has always grated against his scales.”
“He Draastrekian?” Thatcher asked.
“Him and all his lieutenants. While the rank and file can be any species he only promotes Draastrekians to any position of command. I trust that won’t be a problem?”
“Not at all.” Vic replied.
“Us humans have had a lot of practice killing lizards.” Asami added with a smile.
“Let’s say you pull this off. What would you want in return?” He asked.
“We get you one of the colonies we get a share of all the profits. In perpetuity.” Thatcher said.
Narrowing his eyes at him Artum replied “You ask a lot.”
“We’re promising a lot.” Thatcher retorted “Look at it this way, you don’t get your planet we don’t get paid. Any gains you make between now and then is pure profit.”
Seeing him wavering Thatcher made a subtle gesture to Asami who tilted her head slightly in acknowledgement before leaning back into Artum’s chest and reached up to scratch him beneath his chin “Trust me baby, we’re worth every penny.”
As a throaty purr rumbled from his gullet Artum looked to Thatcher and said “What would you need to get it done?”
“A ship and any intel you have on them.” Thatcher replied.
“That’s it?” Artum asked with a raised eyebrow “His crew is comparable in size to my own.”
“The four of us will be more than sufficient.” Thatcher assured him “As Asami said, we’ve had a lot of practice killing lizards.”
A Month Later
Sitting in his private quarters Artum drank deeply from a bottle as he watched the two women dancing for his entertainment. One was Praxian, her glossy ashen fur which covered her slender body shone with an alluring lustre as her body swayed with the music. Her partner was an Oran, a cousin of the Draastrekians her kind was more humanoid than their brutish relatives; their green scales soft and smooth to the touch, her face more human than reptilian with a series of long hollow spines sprouting from her head in place of hair. As they ground their bodies together the two women began to strip what skimpy clothing they wore all the while casting seductive glances towards Artum.
Setting aside the bottle Artum snapped his fingers at the two women and let out a growl as they approached. Pulling them against him Artum forced his lips against the Praxian woman as his hands roamed their bodies. For her part the Oranian woman leaned in and kissed his neck as she started to pull off his shirt. Running her fingers through the fur on his chest the scaled woman started to kiss her way downwards when a voice called out “Not interrupting are we?”
Pulling his lips away from the woman his was kissing Artum looked passed them and saw Thatcher, Tucker and Asami standing in front of him. “How did you three get in here?” he frowned as he pushed the two woman off of him making them scowl at the interlopers.
“Your security’s not exactly the greatest in the galaxy.” Tucker smiled as his eyes roamed the near naked aliens still clinging to Artum. “An important guy like you might want to look into that.”
Letting out a grunt Artum grabbed the bottle and started to fill three glasses for them “I expected to hear from you sooner. I take it you’re here to requisition some of my men?”
Raising an eyebrow as he accepted the drink Thatcher asked “Why would we do that?”
Blinking at the man Artum said “To help you take out Kranii and his lieutenants?”
“That won’t be necessary, we’re just here to discuss who you want us to go after next.” Thatcher said with a smile.
“Do you mean to tell me you’ve taken over Kranii’s crew in a month?” he asked sceptically.
“It was two weeks actually.” Asami smiled as she moved to sit across from him “One week to track them down and another to do them all in. We spent the rest of the time stabilising the gang and hunting down the remnants of the command structure we missed. We left Vic behind to run things until you decide how you want to incorporate them into your crew.” she said as she brought her feet up onto the table between them.
Hearing a horrified gasp from the Oranian next to him Artum followed her gaze to Asami’s feet where his golden eyes went wide at the sight of the leather boots she was wearing. Noticing their attention Asami wiggled her foot back and forth to show them off. “What do you think? Nice aren’t they? I had Vic make me a pair. He’s good at fiddly stuff like this.” she explained “You can’t get stuff like this any more since the war ended, well not legally at least. Genuine Draast leather, nothing finer.” she said proudly. “Oh, speaking of which I had Vic make something for you too. Think of it as a parting gift from Kranii.” she said with a grin as she reached behind her and pulled out a box.
Reaching out with shaking hands Artum accepted the box and opened it to reveal a long leather duster. Lifting it out of the box made the Praxian woman gasp and cover her mouth in horror while the Oranian’s green skin had turned pale and she seemed like she was about to throw up. Taking pity on the two women Thatcher said “You girls can go now.”
Not needing to be told twice the two women scrambled to gather their clothes before fleeing the room. Watched as they ran away Tucker made to follow after them only for Thatcher to grab him by the collar and yank him backwards before he had taken more than two steps. Looking at the humans Artum said “I’m sure you’re aware this is going to spread all over the station in an hour?”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Tucker grinned.
“Put it on. I wanna see how it fits.” Asami insisted.
Reluctantly doing as she asked Artum slipped on coat made from his former rival. “I’m not sure how I feel about wearing the skin of another sentient, even if Kranii only barely counted as such.”
“If nothing else it sends a message.” Thatcher replied. “Wearing the hide of your defeated rival; I’d certainly think twice about wanting to be on your bad side.”
“I think it looks great on you.” Asami purred as she stood up and pressed herself against her chest, her hands running over the leather coat “I can’t begin to tell you the things it makes me want to do to you.” she said as she seductively bit her bottom lip.
Enjoying the warmth of her body against his Artum stared down into Asami’s smouldering eyes as he grabbed hold of her waist “You are as captivating as you are terrifying my dear.” he declared as he leaned down to kiss her only for her to push him backwards.
“uh-uh, business first, fun later.” she grinned at him as she returned to her seat.
Letting out a growl Artum said “So how did you do it? How’d you take over Kranii’s crew so quickly?”
“Draastrekians aren’t the smartest around; they rely on brute strength and numbers to overwhelm their enemies.” Tucker said.
“They’re also proud and arrogant.” Thatcher continued “Once we found out where they called home it was easy enough to draw them out. We had Tucker hit all the bars in the station making sure to let everyone know that there was a human around shit talking the Draastrekians. They might be scared shitless of us humans as a whole but there’s no way they’d let a single one of us run his mouth on their own turf.”
“So Kranii got all his lizardmen buddies together for a good old fashion lynching.” Asami added.
“How did you know he wouldn’t sic his entire crew on him?” Artum asked.
“You remember how eager your pet lizard was to get a chance to maul one of us? We figured it was a better than even chance that they wouldn’t want to run the risk one of their men taking Tucker out before they got their hands on him.” Thatcher replied.
“Just want to reiterate that me being chased by a horde of angry lizards isn’t one of your better plans.” Tucker huffed as he sipped his drink.
“I don’t know about that. Seemed to work out well enough. And you had Vic following you at a discrete distance if something went wrong.” Asami smiled dismissively.
“And what if they just shot me in the back?” he asked with a frown.
“It wouldn’t have been a great loss.” she said with a shrug. “Besides I doubt they’d settle for something that quick. They’d want to play around with you first.”
“Anyway,” Thatcher said “Tucker led them to an empty storage hanger where Asami and I were already set up and waiting for them. It never occurred to them that they were walking straight into an ambush.”
“We took out half of them after we tossed a grenade right in their faces.” Asami said with a grin “Those that survived that tried to retreat but Vic came up behind them and cut off their means of escape. Sandwiched between us it didn’t take more than two minutes to finish them all off.”
“You make it sound so easy.” Artum muttered as he shook his head. “It must have been quite messy not to mention loud.”
“It was.” Thatcher agreed “It wasn’t long before the rest of his gang showed up.”
“And how did you deal with them?” Artum wondered.
With a small smile on his face Thatcher said “Kranii liked to rule with a ‘might makes right’ style of management. It was pretty well ingrained in them that only the toughest have the right to run things.”
“And when they walked in and saw Asami halfway through skinning Kranii himself it was abundantly clear who the biggest badass around here was.” Tucker grinned as he held out his fist to Asami who smirked and bumped her own fist against his.
Blinking his golden eyes as he stared at Asami Artum asked “You skinned him yourself?”
“Of course. Thatch and Vic were busy planning our next move and I wasn’t going to trust Tuck to do it.” she smiled “You have any idea how much Draast leather goes for back home? There are people who’ll pay a fortune to get their hands on Draastrekian hide and there no way I was going to let Tucker butcher it. Don’t worry, I saved the best cuts for us.” she said with a wink.
As Artum stared at the woman sitting proudly across from him his gaze was filled with equal measures or terror, disgust and wonder. He had heard stories about the war between the Terran Empire and the Draastreks Imperium, the Draastrekians in particular couldn’t shut up about it. He had heard about the savage ferocity these apes had displayed on the battlefield, the acts of barbarism they perpetrated against any unfortunate soul they captured, the righteous fury they rained down on planets leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake as they burned their way through the galaxy on their way to enact vengeance for the Draastrekian’s transgressions. It had gotten to the point where even the proud Draastrekians had to come begging for help from the Union.
It took the full might of the Union armada to give the humans their first major defeat in the war. In their arrogance the Union believed that after such a defeat the humans would come begging for peace. All it did was make them change their tactics. Avoiding full scale engagements the humans began guerilla warfare, never amassing in one place they forced the Union fleet to disperse opening themselves up to being whittled down as they were led into ambushes, the fractured command structure inherent in a fleet composed of many different nations hampered communication never allowing them to achieve a decisive victory against the humans. And with every battle they won they became all the more dangerous.
Like scavengers picking clean a carcass they salvaging the destroyed ships and stole technologies that would have taken them generations to develop independently. This rapid scientific advancement enabled them to field even deadlier warships and soon the gap between the Unions technologically superior fleet and the humans narrowed. Faced with superior tactics and now equatable technology the only advantage left to the Grand Fleet was their numbers.
That’s when the terrorist attacks began.
Not content with chipping away at the Grand Fleet the humans began targeting Union controlled space; raiding and demolishing any spaceports or shipyards they found, destroying any non human ship they encountered regardless of whether it was a civilian or military vessel. Entire harvests of agricultural worlds were poisoned or burned if not outright pilfered, mines were bombed and industrial centres sabotaged. The humans infiltrated scores of Union worlds, sowing discord and terror among the aliens as they targeted the planets infrastructure; destroying power plants plunging them into darkness, planetary defences were undermined leaving them defenceless should a hostile fleet arrive all the while all levels of government were targets for bombings resulting in chaos as their leaders were killed. The humans they managed to capture never lived for long, almost all taking their own lives but not before delivering a chilling message.
We Are Coming For You.
The weaker members of the Union could no longer afford to keep contributing to the Grand Fleet, not while their own space was ravaged by human privateers and so withdrew their ships in order to police their own domains though the humans didn’t let such an opening go unpunished. Without the protection of the Grand Fleet the humans were able pick off the retreating ships, harassing them all the way back to their own space weakening them further.
Finally faced with the prospect of their own planets coming under attack the Union reassembled the Grand Fleet and flew it straight to Earth. Ignoring any human settled worlds along the way they barrelled through Sol’s system defences to orbit the human homeworld where they delivered an ultimatum; surrender or Earth would be destroyed.
In an act of suicidal defiance the humans had dared them to open fire; delivering the warning that should Earth fall they had best be sure to kill every last human in the galaxy because they would Never Stop Coming for Them. As the leaders of the fleet consulted amongst themselves about how to react to this shocking display of indifference in the face of planetary annihilation a transmission was blasted from the planets surface in all directions before they block it. The message was simply this:
Destruction of Earth imminent. Do not return. Avenge Us.
Within days reports came flooding in to the Grand Fleet of an increase of attacks all throughout Union controlled space. These attacks were on a different sale and intensity than the ones meant to divert the Grand Fleet with civilian population centres being targeted indiscriminately and without mercy, ships were discovered filled with the desecrated and mutilated bodies of massacred crews. Even surrendering proved fruitless as the humans gave no quarter as they enacted their revenge.
As the full extent of what a Total War against the humans would entail became apparent to them the Union members were finally driven to seek peace, ultimately resulting in the Terran Empire joining the Union not as a subjugated species but as a member of equal standing to even the Unions founders.
Tales of these suicidal barbarians had spread throughout the Union but Artum had thought them mere exaggerations, not believing the Union would allow them membership if such atrocities were true. But hearing the three humans in front of him discuss selling the hide of a fellow sentient as if they were livestock with such callous indifference made his blood run cold as he wondered just what he had gotten himself into working with these humans. But despite this trepidation Artum couldn’t help but feel a thrill of excitement. This was a species feared the galaxy over, capable of single handedly bringing the greatest galactic power to it’s knees.
And they wanted to work for him.
All of a sudden he found possibilities he only dreamed of before were now within his grasp. Their reputation alone made them more valuable than the entirety of his crew but this display of savage efficiency in taking over Kranii’s crew would only enhance their infamy and his own by association. With their backing none would dare stand against him. Even the self proclaimed Pirate Lords squatting in their colonies would pause before antagonising such fearsome warriors.
As his fur rippled with exhilaration Artum he lifted his glass to them and said “My friends, you are even more impressive than your reputations led me to believe. I’m sure our partnership will be long and mutually beneficial.”
“Here here!” Tucker grinned as they downed their drinks.
Refilling their glasses Artum said “You haven’t told me how you plan to get me a colony.”
“What’s the matter sweetie, don’t you trust us?” Asami smiled as she slowly ran a finger around the rim of her glass.
“The four of you managed to accomplish a feat that would have required a long and bloody war in less than a month.” he returned her smile. “You can’t blame me for being curious about what you’ll do next.”
“You know what curiosity did to the cat don’t you?” she asked teasingly as she moved to sit next to him and press herself into his side.
Seeing the confused look on his face Thatcher said “I don’t think that idiom has made it this far out yet.” Giving him a shrug Asami snuggled closer to the Praxian, her hand slipping beneath his new coat to stroke his chest as he wrapped his arm around her waist. “As for how we plan to take over one of the colonies we’re going to have to tread carefully. We need to assimilate every crew unaffiliated with the Pirate Lords in order to build up our military strength in order to be taken seriously but we need to do it quickly and quietly. If we’re discovered too soon they may perceive us as a threat and move to crush us before we threaten their position.”
Nodding his head Artum asked “And once we have absorbed all the other gangs?”
“There are two options we can take.” Thatcher replied as he held up a finger “First we find out which one of them is the biggest asshole among them. Then we approach his rivals and make a deal with them; we’ll deal with the prick and they give us their support in exchange for a share of the profits from the mines.”
“You want me to give up even more shares?” Artum frowned.
“We could try to do it without their help but that’s risky. For one we don’t know how fraternal these guys are; they might not take kindly to one of their own being attacked. They may decided to come to our targets aid and put us down to send a message to the whole system that they are untouchable so don’t even try coming at them. If they get something for doing nothing they’re less likely to act against us.”
“And what if we succeed in taking the colony but they decide we are an easy target in our weakened state?” Artum asked.
“Which is why we need to pay them off. If they get cash for doing nothing they’re less likely to get greedy and come after us as it would leave them open to attack themselves.” Thatcher explained.
Letting out a grunt Artum asked “And the second option?”
“The second option is we go for the weakest guy.” he said holding up a second finger “Instead of attacking them we ingratiate ourselves with them; offer to add our might to theirs. Adding our crew to theirs will help consolidate his power and make his position more secure.”
“And what if he rejects our offer?” Artum wondered.
“Then we let him know we’ll be offering our services to one of his rivals. Right now the Pirate Lords hold each other in check. They can’t afford to attack one another as it would leave them open to assault while their fleets are distracted. Our crew has the potential to tip the balance of power in favour of whoever we side with. There’s no way they’d turn us away if it means one of his bolstering his rivals forces. If nothing else our added might would make them unassailable.”
“You’re assuming their mystery backer can’t keep the peace.” Artum pointed out “So far he’s kept them from tearing at each others throats. If they believe him capable of restraining the other gangs they may not see the need for our crew.”
Giving him a smirk Thatcher leaned forward and said “If I was a pirate who somehow lucked into owning an entire planet I’d do everything in my power to keep it. And I certainly wouldn’t rely on the benevolence of this man behind the curtain without making a contingency plan.”
Conceding the point with a nod Artum said “So now you’ve indentured me and my men to one of the Pirate Lords how do we take the planet from him.”
“Mining colonies are far from the safest places in the universe.” Tucker grinned “Lots of machinery and explosives; accidents happen all the time.”
“And, god forbid something happens to our new boss, someone high up in the organisation will have to take his place.” Asami purred as she rubbed his thigh “Someone who has experience running such a large organisation.”
With a grin spreading across his face Artum chuckled and said “I don’t know who is more insane; the three of you for proposing such an outlandish strategy or me for believing that you could pull it off!”
“Have we given you cause to doubt our abilities?” Thatcher asked.
“Not at all.” Artum shook his head “But even you must admit it’s an ambitious plan.”
“And you’re an ambitious man.” Asami grinned up at him. “Seems like a match made in heaven.”
Grinning down at her as he caressed her hip Artum said “Very well then. What’s the next step?”
“First you choose who you want running Kranii’s gang so we can free up Vic. Then we go on the offensive; we need the latest intel you have on the rest of the gangs specifically where to find them. With any luck our reputation will precede us and they’ll fall into line easily enough.”
“I’ll see that you get what you need.” he said as he stood up only for Asami to grab him by the wrist.
“There’s no rush is there? We can sort all that stuff out tomorrow.” she proposed with a suggestive smile.
Staring down at her with a hungry look in his eyes Artum nodded his head and sat back down next to her “I’m sure you could all use a break after working so hard. We’ll go over the details in the morning.”
“Great.” Tucker grinned “I’m gonna go see if those girls Asami chased off are still around.” he said eagerly as he made his way to the door.
“And I’ll go make sure he doesn’t do something stupid.” Thatcher sighed.
“Have fun with that.” Asami replied absently all the while staring deeply into Artum’s eyes. Once her two companions had left Asami pounced on top of Artum; straddling his lap she grabbed hold of his head and forced her lips against his. Feeling his hands slide over her hips to squeeze her shapely ass Asami moaned into his mouth and breathily murmured “mmm, that feels so good, Pirate Lord Artum.” seeing his eyes widen and feeling him pull her harder against his body Asami grinned and said “You like that baby? You like me calling you Pirate Lord Artum?” Getting a throaty growl in response Asami grinned and pulled off her shirt to expose her breasts to him. “Good, because I’m going to be screaming it later.” she promised as she pulled his head against her chest, giggling as his fur tickled her before gasping as his lips found her nipple. Seeing him start to pull off his coat Asami grasped his wrists and pushed him back against the chair. “Don’t even think about removing that coat.” she growled lustfully.
Seeing the intensity in her eyes Artum removed his hands from the leather duster and returned them to Asami’s body. Picking her up Artum carried her towards the bed intending to throw her down on top of it only for her to swing them around at the last minute so that she lay on top of him. Running her fingers through the fur on his chest Asami grinned down lewdly at him and said “I hope you don’t have any early morning appointments tomorrow. Because you’re not going to be in any condition to make them.”
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I'mma head out

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temporary ten tend tendency tennis tension tent term terms terrible territory terror terrorism terrorist test testify testimony testing text than thank thanks that the theater their them theme themselves then theory therapy there therefore these they thick thin thing think thinking third thirty this those though thought thousand threat threaten three throat through throughout throw thus ticket tie tight time tiny tip tire tired tissue title to tobacco today toe together tomato tomorrow tone tongue tonight too tool tooth top topic toss total totally touch tough tour tourist tournament toward towards tower town toy trace track trade tradition traditional traffic tragedy trail train training transfer transform transformation transition translate transportation travel treat treatment treaty tree tremendous trend trial tribe trick trip troop trouble truck true truly trust truth try tube tunnel turn TV twelve twenty twice twin two type typical typically ugly ultimate ultimately unable uncle under undergo understand understanding unfortunately uniform union unique unit United universal universe university unknown unless unlike unlikely until unusual up upon upper urban urge us use used useful user usual usually utility vacation valley valuable value variable variation variety various vary vast vegetable vehicle venture version versus very vessel veteran via victim victory video view viewer village violate violation violence violent virtually virtue virus visible vision visit visitor visual vital voice volume volunteer vote voter vs vulnerable wage wait wake walk wall wander want war warm warn warning wash waste watch water wave way we weak wealth wealthy weapon wear weather wedding week weekend weekly weigh weight welcome welfare well west western wet what whatever wheel when whenever where whereas whether which while whisper white who whole whom whose why wide widely widespread wife wild will willing win wind window wine wing winner winter wipe wire wisdom wise wish with withdraw within without witness woman wonder wonderful wood wooden word work worker working works workshop world worried worry worth would wound wrap write writer writing wrong yard yeah year yell yellow yes yesterday yet yield you young your yours yourself youth zone
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Top Betting Mistakes

The first step to formulating a solution, is to define the problem.
The following points are areas of betting where many punters often get it wrong. My views arise from long personal experience and years of communication with successful and unsuccessful punters alike.
My aim here is to highlight these common areas of failure in the hope that I can speed up your learning curve towards successful betting.
Read the following thoughts and you may be able to side step many of the pot holes others have fallen into in the past.
1) Failure to Use Betting Banks
Most gamblers fail to understand that the best method of achieving a healthy and sustained long term profit from racing is to set aside a sum of money away from your main finances, solely for the betting of horses. Whatever method or system you are using, whoever you are following or subscribing to or however your own bets are calculated, you are better off with a "Betting Bank" that has built -in advantages that can help you. It needs to be independent from your own personal finances and needs to be protected from factors that can threaten it. This can take a lot of emotion out of the decision making process. Emotion is a factor that threatens all punters. The size of your betting bank will of course be dependent upon your own individual circumstances and free capital available.
An analogy to the world of shares perhaps may be that no financial advisor worth his salt would advise you throw all your capital into the stock market alone. The vast majority of punters fail to use any form of set aside bank. They bet randomly with what ever money they have in their pocket at the end of the week or go in too deep with stakes far in excess of their personal safety levels. A punter with a professional attitude will set aside what he can comfortably afford to invest and then determine the best use he can make of that fixed sum of capital. With a fixed sum of capital available you now move on to the next reason for failure.
2) Failure to Stake Correctly
It is vital that you consider your betting bank as capped in amount. You do not have an endless pool of resources to dip into. Betting by its nature carries inherent risks. These risks include periods of low strike rates and long losing runs. Your betting bank and staking should be adapted for the method you use. You must in advance, prepare yourself for the possibility of a worse than average sequence of losers through adoption of a sufficient number of units in your betting bank. Correct methodical staking in addition to the mathematical advantage, can also help overcome the risk of emotional reaction to a sequence of unusually positive or negative results. Take the Pricewise column in the racing post as an example.
Long term if you could get on at the advised prices, it would have returned a decent profit overall. During this time however followers would have to have endured runs of up to 40 losers in a row! Despite the overall long term profit I suspect the vast majority of Pricewise followers would have been terminated either by a failure to set aside a sufficient amount of points or through failure to cope with the emotion of the losing run. We have long since established here a strike rate of about 35% on our Best Bet selections and at an average S.P. of over 5/2 for each winning bet.
We feel able to protect clients banks as long losing runs haven't happened and the strike rate and odds have been more than enough to ensure long steady and safe growth for your betting profits. That is in essence the key to winning money. Manage your accounts in a way that protects them as far as possible from the element of risk that the game presents you.
3) Chasing Losses
Chasing losses at first sight may appear to be an easy way to guarantee an eventual profit but the true story is it is a game for fools and statistically will not work unless you generate an overall level stakes profit. Chasing losses is a game for the ill informed who do not want to make the effort to seek value in their bets. Bookmakers have to price up every race. Punters don't have to play in every race, they can pick the races they want to bet in,and that is the main edge that people fail to understand.
If you have had a losing day, by attempting to chasing your losses you give up that advantage and bet in the races that you should not be betting in. You are therefore betting the way bookmakers want you to and not in the way to win. Many punters will alter their stakes in the last race either to "chase" losses or "play up" winnings. Its no coincidence that the bookmakers have ensured that the last race on each day is often a handicap or one of the hardest races that day. There will be more racing the next day and the day after that.
The secret is waiting for opportunities and only betting when you know you have circumstances which favour you and not the bookmakers. You must never change your approach, or deviate from sensible staking as there is no such things as "The Last Race".
4) Lack of Value Appreciation
Appreciation of "value" in a bet is core to long term success. To profit over a long series of bets you must be betting at odds greater than the true chance of winning your selection have. To do this however over the long term, you need to concentrate on each race individually and seek the value bet in that race. There is value to be had in every race. The key to it is understanding where that value is. Many times a punter will screw up a losing betting slip and say "At least I had some value".
There is absolutely NO relationship between value and prices. A 33/1 chance may be diabolical value yet a very short priced favorite may be supreme value. It does not follow that the bigger the price you take the better "value" you have. The value is sometimes clear but more often well hidden and it takes a trained eye to see that. Everyone has this "Foresight" on occasions, it is a game about opinions after all and nobody is always right or wrong. Value can be the most expensive word in racing if you can't bet winner. The old cliche is that value is about betting a horse whose true chance is better than its price reflects.
That's only a small part of it. You also have to make sure that you bet in the right way and in the right races as that is the only way you can keep strike rates high and protect a betting bank. You should continually strive to increase value in your bets. Once you have a selection you feel is value do not just take the first acceptable price that comes along. Seek to improve it by shopping around the various bookmakers or try and top the best bookmakers price by looking to the betting exchanges. Marginal improvements on odds on each bet you make can have a dramatic effect on long term profits.
5) Greed For Instant Wealth
Many punters seek the thrill of a life changing bet that will produce huge gains of instant wealth for a small outlay. Bookmakers play on your natural desire and go out of their way to encourage you to bet exotic multiple selection bets that can in one hit, turn a small stake into a large sum. Professionals however rarely bet in multiples. Most professionals bet singles and steer away from the multiple bets. Bookmakers relentlessly promote a host of multiple bets with exotic names such as Yankee, Lucky 15, and Goliath.
The reason they are heavily touted is the profit margin in the bookmaker's favour increases the more selections you add to your multiple bet. Say you select any random 5/1 selection. If you bet this as a single the bookmaker may have a theoretical edge in his favor of 15%. Taking two such selections however and betting them in a win double, the bookmakers profit margin rises to about 30% ! Yes your win double can produce a much bigger win from the same stake however over the long term the bookmaker is eating away at your capital at a much faster rate.
It is a waste of time debating which type of multiple bet is 'best'. Unless your prediction skills are supernatural or you are incredibly lucky, then betting in singles is more often the best option. You may say that many "Pros," do bet in multiples in bets like The Scoop 6 or the Jackpot, but that's only because they know there is plenty of "Dead" money in any given Pool and they are betting against people who don't understand the dynamics of those types of bet. There are times you should bet in multiples but in truth they are few and far between.
You can't approach this as a "Get Rich Quick " scheme. It is a long slow process of serious and sustained profit and not a game for Get Rich Quick schemers. If you go Into any Betting shop, have a look at all the posters on the wall offering "special offers", "enhanced terms " and "bonus offers". You will see they are all multiple bets. Bookmakers want you betting in multiples and it is easy to see why. They carve most profit from them. You never see a Bookmakers promotion offering extra's on a win or each way single. Ask yourself why.
6) Lack of Discipline
Lack of Discipline is the big hurdle for punters trying to turn a losing hobby into a winning one. Bookmakers know that. That's why in every betting office you can bet on numbers, lotteries, ball games, racing from all over the globe with horses nobody has heard of before and even now computer animated, or as they call it, virtual racing. Bookmakers just believe that its a case of punters sitting all day betting on what ever is put in front of them and sadly they are right in many cases. They are simply thrill seeking and don't care what they bet on, as long as they can bet.
There is no methodology at all and many betting office regulars are simply a bunch of headless chickens prepared to pay long term for the warming buzz of the occasional win. Even more experienced regular gamblers who are savvy enough to turn down bets that they know are stupid always let themselves down by continually bleeding their profits with a fun tenner here and a fun tenner there. It takes great discipline to NOT bet at times. It takes discipline to walk away from a horse when the price isn't right. It takes discipline to say no to that small fun bet.
It takes discipline to keep your money in your pocket and deny yourself the emotional buzz of watching your runner. Punters come in all shapes and sizes. Even the shrewder punters who could win at the game, fall into the trap of lack of discipline of study. After a winning period they forget that what made them winners in the first place, was the effort they put in. They fall victim to over confidence, laziness and indiscipline. Being a long term successful punter is like swimming against the tide. It takes an effort to stay still, even greater effort to move ahead and as soon as you relax or slack off you start to go backwards.
7) Emotion
Betting is a lonely game. Its also a highly skilled game. Emotion undermines success in many ways. There is comfort in knowing that as a sheep when you are wrong it is not your fault as you were simply doing what everyone else was doing. With betting, the laws of market supply and demand, dictate that long term, the sheep will get fleeced. Emotion neutralises discipline and long proven successful practices. The result of any isolated race has little or no relation to races just before that or just after that. Races should be viewed in isolation from each other. We are all emotional in betting but the players at the top of the tree have this down to a fine art and can control those emotions.
Other punters have long since been conditioned by bookmakers to EXPECT to lose rather than win. They have an in built psychological factor that makes them feel like losers and they have been conditioned to losing by years of doing so. Over 95% of punters are flawed emotionally. Examples of emotive gambling include punters following a horse,trainer or a jockey blind. The "Hype" horses are cannon fodder for emotional punters. They may also follow tipsters blind as they "hate" the thought of missing out on a winner. They pay no attention to the changing conditions of a race that may follow non runners or the ground changing. They misunderstand confidence and can't cope with a lack of confidence.
Emotion also prevents people from advanced betting subjects such laying, hedging and arbitrages. Emotion forces some punters to bet horses with certain names that remind them of loved ones. Names such as "Long Tall Sally " and "Susan's Pride " attract many to them just for a name that's relevant to them. Most punters have a grudge against their own money and winning and being successful is alien to them. Emotional punters lose their heads in barren times and fail to capitalise on winning runs. They mess about with systems and staking plans that make no sense.
The more emotion you can rule out of your betting, the more successful you will become. You have to view everyone in the game as your enemy and as people trying to take your hard earned money away from you in the same way as you would a pickpocket. Once you can master your emotions you have made the first big step to betting profitably.
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I am about to post the 3000 most common words in the English lexicon. Wish me luck...

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statement station statistics status stay steady steal steel step stick still stir stock stomach stone stop storage store storm story straight strange stranger strategic strategy stream street strength strengthen stress stretch strike string strip stroke strong strongly structure struggle student studio study stuff stupid style subject submit subsequent substance substantial succeed success successful successfully such sudden suddenly sue suffer sufficient sugar suggest suggestion suicide suit summer summit sun super supply support supporter suppose supposed Supreme sure surely surface surgery surprise surprised surprising surprisingly surround survey survival survive survivor suspect sustain swear sweep sweet swim swing switch symbol symptom system table tablespoon tactic tail take tale talent talk tall tank tap tape target task taste tax taxpayer tea teach teacher teaching team tear teaspoon technical technique technology teen teenager telephone telescope television tell temperature temporary ten tend tendency tennis tension tent term terms terrible territory terror terrorism terrorist test testify testimony testing text than thank thanks that the theater their them theme themselves then theory therapy there therefore these they thick thin thing think thinking third thirty this those though thought thousand threat threaten three throat through throughout throw thus ticket tie tight time tiny tip tire tired tissue title to tobacco today toe together tomato tomorrow tone tongue tonight too tool tooth top topic toss total totally touch tough tour tourist tournament toward towards tower town toy trace track trade tradition traditional traffic tragedy trail train training transfer transform transformation transition translate transportation travel treat treatment treaty tree tremendous trend trial tribe trick trip troop trouble truck true truly trust truth try tube tunnel turn TV twelve twenty twice twin two type typical typically ugly ultimate ultimately unable uncle under undergo understand understanding unfortunately uniform union unique unit United universal universe university unknown unless unlike unlikely until unusual up upon upper urban urge us use used useful user usual usually utility vacation valley valuable value variable variation variety various vary vast vegetable vehicle venture version versus very vessel veteran via victim victory video view viewer village violate violation violence violent virtually virtue virus visible vision visit visitor visual vital voice volume volunteer vote voter vs vulnerable wage wait wake walk wall wander want war warm warn warning wash waste watch water wave way we weak wealth wealthy weapon wear weather wedding week weekend weekly weigh weight welcome welfare well west western wet what whatever wheel when whenever where whereas whether which while whisper white who whole whom whose why wide widely widespread wife wild will willing win wind window wine wing winner winter wipe wire wisdom wise wish with withdraw within without witness woman wonder wonderful wood wooden word work worker working works workshop world worried worry worth would wound wrap write writer writing wrong yard yeah year yell yellow yes yesterday yet yield you young your yours yourself youth zone
submitted by TheCoderAndAvatar to OneWordBan [link] [comments]

This staking method can be quite aggressive and as such is probably best to individuals with an intricate knowledge of value. So, Which is the Best? Ultimately, there is no absolute standout staking method that can be prescribed to punters. Staking plans are dependent upon individual risk tolerance, betting preferences, and knowledge of the game. The Benchmark Is the Level Risk Staking Plan. A level risk staking plan means risking a fixed stake or ‘unit’ per bet (e.g. £5 stakes throughout my Mug Betting Experiment).A selection system that doesn’t produce a profit on a level stake basis won’t profit under any staking plan. Fundamentally it needs to have a positive edge.. There are two types of level-risk staking plans: 3. Once you have a great system, use ratcheted staking. This means betting with a set percentage of your bank, in such a way that your stakes grow gradually as your bank balance rises. For a low-risk system (e.g. betting at short prices), 5% is an acceptable figure. For higher risk methods, you may wish to consider 3%, or even 2%. The Kelly Staking Plan is based on using the ‘Kelly Constant’. Kelly Criteria was developed in 1956 by John L. Kelly. Kelly Criteria was developed in 1956 by John L. Kelly. It was designed to maximize the growth of your bank-roll over the long term, by determining the optimal stake on a bet. Profiting from sports betting is a long-term slog. The right betting strategy simply reduce the risks and helps maximise your future ROIs. Individual staking plans won’t always offer years of success. As with all aspects of betting, adaptation can be crucial as your bankroll and gambling goals evolve. Staking plans won’t bring any rewards

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