Everyone who has played a strategy game knows that some factions are playable and others are not playable. The French under Charlemagne are playable, but the Vichy French are unplayable. Joan of Arc’s resistance is playable, but the British who burned her are unplayable. Russians, Prussians and Turks are playable; Polish, post-classical Greeks and Belgians are all unplayable factions.
The NHL has its share of playable and unplayable factions. Today we will focus on the unplayable factions in the NHL.
Faction: San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are the AI controlled opponent who are in the game to make you falsely believe that the AI is quite powerful, while also giving you an easy path to success. They are like the first or second to last boss in any adventure or role-playing game. They are not the final challenge but they are a pretty serious threat.
AI difficulty: Medium
Are you bad at video games? Are you the Vancouver Canucks of 2013, are you the Detroit Red Wings when their player resigned and ceded control to an easy-level AI? You will lose the to the San Jose Sharks. If you are a player-controlled team like Chicago you will crush them, and you will have fun doing it because they scare you just a little bit.
Faction: St. Louis Blues
Have you ever played a game where there is some red target on the enemy boss, like all of the bosses in Twilight Princess? The St. Louis Blues are that boss, and the target is their shabby goaltending.
AI difficulty: Easy
If you are a serious noob you will attack the dragon with a big red circle on the back of its neck on its belly, or its wings, and you will be destroyed. If you are not a noob you will attack the target and feel guilt that you are still playing a game designed to teach children basic motor skills.
Faction: Vancouver Canucks
There are some opponents or bosses in games with no obvious weakness. In KOTOR, this is when you are put in a room after a dialogue exchange and forced to fight a ton of different enemies. There is no dangling red target or cut-scene to show a weakness.
AI difficulty: Hard
You play them the first time and you try to do what you always do. You lose and reload the game. You lose again and you smash your controller against the ground. You talk to your friend who tells you that the opponent is not that hard, which infuriates you more. After a few more tries you get the trick of very carefully thinking out what you are going to do before you begin the battle. Then you win easily
Remember kids, even AI with the hard difficulty look easily beatable in hindsight, just like the Vancouver Canucks.